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Posted on March 29, 2023

The recent earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria has caused significant damage to infrastructure, leaving many people homeless and without access to basic necessities.

This has led to a refugee crisis in the affected areas, with many families seeking shelter and aid in nearby countries, including those with health conditions or disabilities.

More than 125 million people were affected by the earthquake, and it’s estimated that over 5 million people need some form of emergency shelter as a result. Many of these individuals will have language barriers, and some may have communication difficulties.

One of the challenges facing aid workers and volunteers is communication with refugees who may not speak the same language or who cannot easily verbalise their needs.

To help address this issue, the World Health Organization (WHO) reached out to seek support in creating simple communication boards in Arabic, to include in their emergency relief packs.

The boards will help those in need more easily communicate with relief workers providing aid, healthcare, and shelter in nearby locations.

Based on Grid AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) software, the communication boards were quickly created using grid sets for communicating healthcare and basic needs.

Helping those with disabilities to communicate more easily and advocate for their needs during the most difficult circumstances.

Arabic communication resources

Download Arabic communication boards core words
Download Arabic medical communication boards

Those affected may be experiencing trauma, and find communicating their needs verbally more difficult. By using communication boards, aid workers can quickly interpret what an individual with a language or communication barrier may need, and provide the necessary care.

Moreover, the use of communication boards in Arabic will also help to promote inclusivity and support cultural sensitivity. By creating materials that are specifically tailored to Arabic-speaking refugees, trust can be built to provide reassurance that culture and language are valued and respected.

Symbol-based communication alongside translated grid sets in Arabic will be provided in every relief pack, to help people with communication challenges and disabilities to access the same level of support as others.

Symbol-based core words communication board

Arabic core word communication board

The bilingual grid sets, translated with support from WHO, use a symbol-based vocabulary for core words, healthcare and wellbeing, and help communicate medical needs. The content was specifically chosen to be of most use within the emergency relief packs provided to the most vulnerable individuals affected by the earthquake.

An Arabic keyboard has also been created for more complex words and vocabulary, without symbols.

New Arabic keyboard

Arabic keyboard

Brian Shulman, President of the IALP (International Association of Communication Sciences and Disorders) shared his feedback in support of our joint efforts.

“On behalf of the members of the IALP Executive Committee, Board, and membership worldwide, I offer you our many thanks for your partnership on such an important initiative. One of IALP’s purposes is to provide assistance to colleagues worldwide who may, in part, have challenges in providing services to the communication challenged. Smartbox’s partnership with IALP is a testimony that you also share this goal.”

The Arabic grid sets are also available in Grid and can be downloaded via Online Grids. Please note that in the interest of providing these grid sets as urgently as possible, the translation is currently male-gendered.

Now available in Grid

Download new Arabic grid sets via Online Grids.

Arabic Core Words grid set

Arabic Medical grid set  

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