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Unicode Launches Adopt-a-Character Campaign to Support the World’s “Digitally Disadvantaged” Living Languages

Karl Williamson
December 17, 2015 06:30
Unicode Launches Adopt-a-Character Campaign to Support the World’s “Digitally Disadvantaged” Living Languages
Message ID:
/Non-profit consortium invites public to adopt any emoji, letter or 
symbol as fun, meaningful gifts that fund research and coding needed to 
support minority languages/

WIRE)—Unicode Consortium, the 501(c)(3) non-profit that standardizes the 
way computers represent text in all languages – including emoji 
characters – today announced its Adopt-a-Character campaign. The new 
program is an opportunity to adopt and dedicate an emoji, letter or any 
symbol on the keyboard to help Unicode’s important work of supporting 
the world’s languages in digital form. Adoption options are available at 
$100, $1,000 and $5,000 levels and make meaningful and fun gifts for the 
holidays or any occasion. Adoption donations are tax deductible in the U.S.

Funds raised will be used to support Unicode’s core mission of 
developing and extending the necessary standards, data and software to 
support the world’s living languages. Unicode works with linguists, 
experts, cultural leaders and technologists to create coding standards 
to support minority languages in digital form.

“Beyond our work standardizing emoji, Unicode is tackling some big 
challenges that might surprise many people,” said Mark Davis, co-founder 
and president of the Unicode Consortium and an internationalization 
expert at Google. “The vast majority of the world’s living languages, 
close to 98 percent, are ‘digitally disadvantaged’ – meaning they are 
not supported on the most popular devices, operating systems, browsers 
and mobile applications. For example, only a handful of African 
languages have adequate digital support. The funds from our new 
Adopt-a-Character campaign will help us continue the important 
standardization work that is best done by a neutral organization like 

      Ensuring Digital Vitality, from Cherokee to N’Ko

So far, Unicode’s resources have been focused on the most-prominent 
scripts and languages of the world. Gathering information for 
less-prominent scripts and languages – such as Berber, Balinese, 
Cherokee, Javanese, N’Ko, Pahawh Hmong and Kashmiri – is often more 
difficult, requiring travel, research, engineering resources and 
software tooling.

Just 15 years ago, Cherokee was not available digitally and now as a 
result of Unicode’s work it can be found on computers, mobile devices 
such as the iPhone and iPad, and on Gmail. Because of Unicode’s work 
standardizing N’Ko – a script used to write a number of the West African 
Mande languages, with a population of over 20 million people – 
publishers are now able to modernize their operations, print in multiple 
locations and reach a broader audience.

“The Internet has made us all more acutely aware of how small our world 
is and how rich the creations of its inhabitants are,” said Greg Welch, 
a Unicode board member and Senior Director, Strategic Marketing, Mobile 
Client Platforms at Intel. “As we become a more connected and paperless 
global society, we cannot leave minority and digitally disadvantaged 
languages behind. It’s vital to ensure that the text on which a 
culture’s propagation depends makes it across the digital divide.”

      How to Adopt-a-Character

More information about Adopt-a-Character can be found at

      About Unicode Consortium

The Unicode Consortium’s mission is to lay a solid foundation for 
digital support of the world’s languages. If you've used any computer or 
smartphone, then you're using Unicode and have benefited from the 
consortium’s work. The consortium – whose members include companies such 
as Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft and more – is a 
501(c)(3) non-profit that emerged from the technology industry’s effort 
to standardize the way computers represent text (including emoji) in all 
languages – from English to Chinese to Zulu – across different devices 
and operating systems. The group operates largely as a volunteer 
organization that is funded by membership fees and donations. A full 
list of members is on Perl Programming lists via nntp and http.
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