Supporting and fixing North American Indigenous languages in technology

This recent blog post from font maker Typotheque has a video explaining the work involved to support an under-/unrepresented language in technology:

It shows the added challenges for a language when it is spoken in rural areas by dwindling numbers due to a history of active suppression by the government in charge (in this case, the Canadian government). The sounds of First Nations languages like this are fascinating. What’s also neat is to see how these efforts materialize via the Unicode Consortium into the official technology standards that all major hardware and software companies subsequently implement to make it real. This is the proposal to add the needed characters to the Unified Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics block, and this is the proposal to fix up the standard’s documentation so that the example display of characters appear correctly for these languages. There is a lot of other technical work that goes on behind the scenes to make this useful in a practical sense — ex: a language-specific (smartphone) keyboard, or the software that helps your phone/computer know how to handle text layout and display for any language. The video above shows the real impact of this unseen work by the people around me.

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