What impact have you had?
The Speaking Books are effective for a number of reasons: visual messages accompanied by sound are doubly effective at conveying accurate messages and messages that are heard as well as seen are more readily retained; in the absence of trained personnel, the Speaking Books allow information dissemination and open discussion on stigmatized health care; the Speaking Book is not dependent on electricity or transmission range, and battery availability is high; the Speaking Books are user-driven and can be played and re-played at any time, and as often as required to reinforce the message; and messages are relevant, readily available and don’t expire, and may offer answers to questions the listener hasn’t yet asked. Each book reaches 27 other people.
In South Africa, 9.5% of all teen deaths being due to suicide. Our Book “Suicide Shouldn’t be a Secret” is targeted at children and the response has been very enthusiastic and it is interactive and educates yet doesn’t judge – and 82.1% of learners found the book helpful and easy to understand. “It is fun to listen to. When I feel lonely it keeps me company – I love it. I wish you could make more of them, they really help”, said a 15-year-old Limpopo girl. Research of our teen suicide prevention book, showed a 58% knowledge gain and empowerment of where to get help. The Speaking Book is totally free standing and effective. This is very important for areas that can’t afford trainers and where there are no other services.
It’s not just South Africans who are benefiting - the world over, immigrants, rural uneducated people are ignored or by-passed on the road to health; in every city, in every country, there are those who are unable to access or understand basic healthcare. It is for those people the Speaking Book was created. SADAG has worked with national governments and departments, companies like Publicis, Merck, Lilly, Anglo Gold, AED, and De Beers, and other NGOs to create Speaking Books on topics from HIV and Depression, to road safety, and the importance of vaccinations. Our Books have reached markets from Sub-Saharan Africa, to Asia, and South America, and have been recorded in 10 languages.
The Speaking Book offers – and delivers – an innovative, interactive, and influential alternative to patient awareness and learning. Through the medium of a hard-covered, 16-page book with an accompanying 30-second-per-page audio track, the Speaking Book literally talks to the ‘reader’, in his own language, about vital health care issues. Local celebrities lend their voices, and status, to this innovation giving it even more authority among locals, and the Books are recorded in various languages to meet the need of the community they will be serving. They’re pretty, colourful, interactive, multi-lingual … the Speaking Book is a tool that can be seen, read, heard and understood regardless of reading ability. And being battery operated, they’re not dependent on electricity either. Finally, thanks to a tiny, gutsy NGO, everyone can have access to critical healthcare information – and have their questions about health and treatment answered even in the absence of trained professionals.
What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.
1st Year: Designing the messages, content, approval from stakeholders, designing the artwork, identifying the voice, recording the voice, creating the sound chip, designing the mould, printing and production of the books, shipping from China, drawing up a distribution plan, drafting the presentation to demonstrate the book to the communities and identifying the target groups in the communities.
2nd Year: distribution of the books in the identified target areas, keep a register of distribution, designing measurable research tools to ascertain the impact and effectiveness evaluation. Then administer a random field study in selected communities
3rd Year: analysis of the data, compiling of the research findings, planning workshops to disseminate the findings of the impact and effectiveness of the speaking books. Identifying stake holders such as NGO’s, Government departments, support group leaders, leaders of community based organizations, sponsors and other interested agencies.
What would prevent your project from being a success?
The speaking books would be easily distributed free of charge to disadvantaged communities with low literacy levels. By building partnerships with other NGO’s, we would be able to reach a larger spectrum of the population who would be able to benefit from the books. One of the only challenges would be the lack of access to replace the batteries for the speaking books in rural communities if not supplied by the government or other NGO’s. Since we would be distributing the speaking books to remote communities in rural areas, having to rely on the local postal services will also be a challenge as the South African Postal Services can be unreliable at times.