In the early 1990s, two young teenagers created a writing system for Pular/Fulfulde, the language of the Fulani people, which is spoken by tens of millions across the Sahel of Africa. Their work became Bindi Pulaar and eventually Adlam, the “Alphabet that Will Save a People from Disappearing”. The authors describe how their invention of this writing system quickly spread across many African countries, first written by hand, then implemented as a font encoding. Now standardized as part of Unicode, Adlam is enabling literacy, education, commerce, public signage and publishing in Pular from Guinea to Sudan. In this session, Adlam’s inventors share their personal story of developing the alphabet, the long road to Unicode and exciting new developments as Adlam implementation in mobile technology makes the language available to millions of new users.
Takeaways: Attendees will learn about Adlam, a writing system for Pular, a language used by millions across Africa; recently standardized in Unicode, Adlam fosters literacy and educational opportunities for millions of people in this previously underserved language community; and although challenges remain, the use of Adlam is rapidly growing, accelerated by its support in mobile device and computer technologies.