Literacy Bridge is a Seattle and Ghana-based non-profit organization dedicated to connecting poor, rural communities with the locally relevant knowledge they need to improve their lives. At the heart of Literacy Bridge’s programs is the Talking Book, an innovative low-cost audio computer designed to deliver this vital knowledge to illiterate populations living in the world’s poorest areas.

A wealth of crucial knowledge is already available within developing countries; the challenge is reaching those who cannot read and live without electricity. More than 750 million adults are illiterate and 800 million rely on farming to feed their families on less than $1 per day. For illiterate populations living in remote areas of developing nations, opportunities to access knowledge and acquire new skills are virtually non-existent, until now.

Designed to address the short and long-term needs of those it serves, the Talking Book saves lives and improves the livelihoods of destitute families by delivering relevant and practical information on key health practices and sustainable farming methods. Literacy Bridge partners with local experts to produce, record, and distribute content in native languages and dialects through the Talking Book. These simple and actionable instructional messages can be played whenever needed, allowing people to learn and adopt life-saving and life-changing behaviors.

Users of the Talking Book navigate audio menus to listen to the information they are interested in, from 35 to 140 hours. Anyone can record their own audio to share new information, expand on existing ideas, or provide feedback to the organizations that provided the devices. Any two Talking Books can be connected to copy audio from one another, with no additional services or technology. And because the Talking Book is small and portable, it is easy to carry and share.

Since Literacy Bridge’s inception in 2007, the Talking Book has delivered over 250,000 on-demand health and farming lessons to 20,000 of the poorest people in Ghana. The winners of “2012 Best Beans Farmer” and “2012 Best Peanut Farmer” learned exclusively from the device.