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UNESCO Seed Funding for Universal Scripts Project Complemented US Research Grant

24-12-2004 (Paris)
The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a two-year grant to the University of California at Berkeley for the Universal Scripts Project, a project that will support authoring of sixteen Unicode script proposals. The NEH grant represents complements seed-funding from UNESCO’s Initiative B@bel, which has funded work on the N’ko and Balinese scripts.
The grant, totalling $217,700 in outright funds and $40,000 in federal matching funds, will run from January 2005 through December 2006 and will be led by Deborah Anderson. The Universal Scripts Project is a continuation of the Script Encoding Initiative established at UC Berkeley in 2002.

Five historic scripts are earmarked for immediate work on this project, including the basic set of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Eleven modern scripts will also be prepared for encoding. The modern scripts are used by minorities in Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and Africa. The number of minority language users of these scripts is over 20 million.

Currently, users of writing systems not in the Unicode Standard must rely on non-standard fonts, specialty software, and other work-arounds to be able to use their script in email, on web pages, and in electronic documents generally. As a result of the Universal Scripts Project, users will have digital access to their written cultural and historical resources and not be “locked out” of the digital world. It also will enable libraries and companies currently involved in scanning multilingual texts and making them available electronically to index the texts and make them searchable over the Internet.

This project will significantly speed up the progress of encoding the over eighty scripts not yet in Unicode, and represents part of a long-range effort to promote the encoding of all the world’s writing systems into Unicode. The project will work closely with individuals, groups, and governments on proposals and also encourages other groups to work on proposals.
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      · Multilingualism in Cyberspace: News Archives 2004
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