785 million people in the world cannot read
That’s 1 in 5 people worldwide, with two-thirds being women. Literacy is a luxury that many of us take for granted. Look around you, words are everywhere. We depend on written communication for information, guidance, well-being, and security. Yet nearly a billion around the world people can’t read, and are denied access to some of life’s most essential necessities like heath care, education, job training. In fact, poverty and disease correlate directly with low literacy, and life expectancy is lowest where people cannot read. Sadly, the cycle perpetuates, as parents are unable to teach their children to read, more and more kids grow up without the ability to read.
But access to critical information means better health, education, and income – especially for women and children.
A Book that Speaks to You
It’s exactly what it sounds like…a customizable book that actually talks to the person in his or her local language, delivering critical information in an interactive, relevant and educational way. Arming the world’s most impoverished communities with critical, life-saving knowledge that can help them to live a better life.
Speaking Books can be seen, read, heard,
and understood, delivering unprecedented value
to low-literacy communities around the world.
Bridge the Communication Gap
Global illiteracy prevents many organizations from effectively educating and informing communities about critical health and wellness issues. It’s time to rethink pamphlets and brochures and distribute knowledge to all people, in a way that is relevant for them, literate or not. Speaking Books are designed to communicate important information in a format that is easy to understand and process.
Illiteracy impacts some of the most critical parts of life such as understanding medical instruction, applying for a loan, signing a contract, or getting basic job training. These life-altering situations are often the path to a better life, and by enabling people to actually understand instructions and information, we can empower them to take control of their lives and end the cycle of poverty and illness.
By reducing misunderstanding and confusion of health care instructions and by learning about sanitation, vaccination, and disease prevention, people can dramatically improve their health and the well-being of their families for generations to come.
Access to information that can save and improve lives, gives people hope in a better tomorrow. Knowing how to prevent diseases or being able to learn a new skill, gives people the confidence necessary for a productive and sustainable life.
How do we overcome the illiteracy epidemic?
We work with leading global health and development organizations to create and distribute Speaking Books around the world. Our partners are experts in their fields and geographic locations, and we rely on their knowledge to create relevant and meaningful content for each book. Through our extensive network, we find local celebrities to record the voice behind the Speaking Book to ensure all the information is conveyed through the voice of a trusted authority. Our partners ensure that the books are distributed in the designated communities and supported by community workers for sustainable and long-term education.
Word on the street“The site would like to take this opportunity to thank you for making the Speaking Books available to our participants. The first set of books were received at the site in 2008 and have been invaluable to our participants in understanding clinical trials. They have made good and thorough use of the books both in their own time as they are available in our patient’s waiting area as well as with our staff members if we identify a potential participant that needs additional assistance in understanding what trials are about.”
Amori Whitton – Site Operations Coordinator
Wits Clinical Research
Word on the street“I think the books are brilliant! I also let my kids look at them and even though this specific book wasn’t designed for a child audience, my 9 year old said ‘mom, now I know what you do for a living.”
Bray Patrick-Lake – President & CEO
PFO Research Foundation
Word on the street“Thank you for the Speaking Books on HIV/AIDS and Suicide. They are wonderful tools to reduce the stigma of mental illnesses and promote awareness of mental health, and I am pleased to have them.”
Rosalynn Carter – USA First Lady
Word on the street“We encounter many infected and affected that don’t understand HIV and AIDS. There are many barriers in conveying the correct information, of which language is the greatest. The ‘SPEAKING BOOK’ would allow us to convey important information in the language of the infected and affected. We regard this as a breakthrough and cannot find words to describe the impact this could have!”
Wessie Wessels – Pastor
Uniting Reformed Church Ennerdale
Word on the street“There is a need for informing people with limited literacy skills on how clinical trials work, and by using the Speaking Book it has made it possible for us to deliver simple messages that will be seen, read, heard and understood. We first introduced the Speaking Books with WMA for Africa, followed by India in Hindi and Telugu, and now the next in our series being an anti-smoking Speaking Book recorded in Mandarin focusing on Chinese youth”
Dr. Soeren Rasmussen
Senior Director for Pfizer Inc. and responsible for implementing Pfizer’s Speaking Book program
Word on the street“The situation we face in rural South Africa is the same in any other SADC or African country – low literacy, compounded by lack of access to services and affordable health care. This means that patients are often not able to get help for many health problems. We believe that this interactive, durable, high quality, hardcover book engages the reader and allows them to build self confidence and skills with a simple action plan.”
Founder and CEO of SADAG
Word on the street“At the core of what we strive for is that our medicines are used safely and effectively. The problem is how to reach low income, illiterate populations? This book which focuses on Anglophile Africa, does a great deal to reach this population. The training of community workers, caregivers and patients will benefit greatly from this book.”
Director, External Medical Division of Pfizer (USA)
Word on the street“It’s vital for us to get the information and message to as many people as possible. You’ve only done half of the job by producing the medicine, although that’s a very important half. The second thing is making sure they get to the right people and they understand their safe and proper use. This is a wonderful book. I received my first copy in my office in Manhattan and when I turned it on I was immediately in the environment it was designed for. That’s the power of the speaking book!”
Vice President of External Medical Affairs of Pfizer in New York
Word on the street“The most exciting part of this is that it adds another dimension to what we do. We are striving to give as many people access to our medicines and help reach our full potential as a nation. We want to reach physicians, nurses and pharmacists with this book, to educate and build relationships by offering educational opportunities. This book adds a totally different dimension by reaching out to people on how to take medicines. With the high rate of illiteracy in these areas pamphlets just don’t work.”
CEO of Pfizer South Africa
Word on the street“More than ever it is necessary to do research, with, in and – most important – for poor populations. I applaud the production of the speaking book, because it means paying more attention to the poorer communities of this world instead of abandoning them or just ignoring their needs.”
Dr. Edward Hill
Chair of Council, WMA