We were inspired by a class one of our team members took this semester on endangered languages. This course not only highlighted the unique and impactful elements of several lesser-known languages spoken across the world, but explained how preserving linguistic diversity can promote important cultural elements and allow for different modes of cognition. We wanted to create an initiative to spread awareness of the importance of these critically endangered languages and help educate people by showing off some of their distinctive features.

What it does

Our project is the ELPTA (Endangered Language Preservation and Transcription Association) website. The project aims to educate and bring awareness to endangered languages by providing information about such languages on our website. The information is not only present on the web pages, but also incorporates the usage of an interactive map to increase engagement. The historic, geographic and linguistic information about the language help to bring heightened awareness to these endangered languages and highlight how widespread the phenomena of endangered languages, an integral part of many cultures, is. The website is unique in that it also has a way for individuals to get involved and contribute to the preservation of these endangered languages from the comfort of their own homes. This is done through the transcription feature where members of the community can help transcribe documents written in endangered languages. This is then sent to our team for review and streamlines the transcription and preservation process.

How we built it

We built this website from scratch using HTML/CSS and JavaScript. We used HTML to build the framework for the website, and used CSS to style and format the website. JavaScript was used so that the client can interact with elements of the website, such as being able to select languages from drop down menus and submitting their transcriptions in a form for review by the team’s editors. The site is being hosted on GitHub Pages which we chose because it was easy, free, and accessible to all. As a result, we also used Github extensively for version control and collaboration.

Challenges we ran into

One of our biggest challenges was (for the most part) learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript on the fly.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

This was our first hackathon and we managed to create a working product. It was a really cool experience for us and we got to learn a lot throughout the course of this event.

What we learned

Web-development is relatively new for our team so this experience allowed us to work closely with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and become more familiar with how the three interact to create websites that are not only functional, but aesthetically pleasing. This project also caused us to consider UI design and how to improve the user experience, and we redesigned several elements in the pursuit of that goal. In the forming of our interactive map page, we also got practice working with the Google Maps API and learned how to embed Google Maps onto a webpage, add location markers, and attach descriptions to these markers. The site is being hosted on GitHub Pages which also gave all of our team members more practice using Git.

What's next for ELPTA

In the future, we aim to make the website be able to bring awareness to a much wider variety of endangered languages, perhaps through transitioning to a wiki-based format where users would submit transcriptions that would be reviewed by a grassroots team of moderators. We are diligently working to make sure that the transcription process is effective and efficient, so when there is a larger influx of transcription documents we seek to store the documents on an actual database. We are always working to improve through feedback, and we are excited about the future.

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