Language often acts as a barrier for meaningful integration – especially in a country as diverse as South Africa, where few people are fluent in more than two languages, including the one they grew up with.

Native VML saw an opportunity to put the 10 seconds it takes the average person to complete a CAPTCHA (a challenge-response test to determine whether or not a user is a human) to better use. In partnership with the free multilingual online dictionary Bilingo, they’ve created iCAPTCHA, which incorporates words from SA’s 11 official languages.

It works like this: when prompted, users see the word, hear it and type it back. “And if people want to learn more, or know a word already, they can simply try another one. The core purpose of this new development is to begin to teach people in a way that is familiar and does not overwhelm them,” the agency says.

What would normally be a routine exercise to verify whether you’re a human or a robot has been cleverly turned into a chance to learn new words in Zulu, Ndebele, English, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Afrikaans, and Xhosa.

The best part? The software is open-source and is easy to install. Site developers can go to the iCAPTCHA site to learn how.

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One Comment

  1. Smart. Nice one.