These awesome cards will help you communicate with refugees in your own language

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Thursday 17 September 2015 13:00

Europeans have looked on in horror this summer as the conflicts across North Africa and the Middle East have driven more and more desperate people to our shores.

Many have expressed anger at their governments for not doing more to help provide shelter and safety for these families - and even actively turning them away.

Despite callous responses to the plight of people fleeing war at home from right wing media and politicians, many normal people have been doing what they can to help. As well as campaigning and volunteering their time and money, people have been donating clothes, phones and medical supplies to charities.

There are hundreds of grassroots crowd funding campaigns, and many people have pledged to take in refugees in their own homes.

While these efforts are heartwarming, language barriers are often proving a problem for exhausted refugees and aid workers, and for local communities who just want to help.

Luckily, the folks at Tobii Dynavox, an alternative communication company that works with people who can't express themselves normally because of medical conditions like paralysis and stroke, has come up with a great idea to help stop meaning getting lost in translation:

Each communication board has the Arabic for basic needs and feelings things people might want to express, such as being hungry or in pain, complete with translations into European languages and helpful illustrations so everyone, even small children, knows exactly what's being said.

You can download and save it to your phone for reference, or print off and distribute copies for more people.

So far the boards are available in Arabic to English, French, German, Norwegian, Swedish and Hungarian. If you'd like to help out by offering translations in another language, you can head to Boardmaker Online to create and share your own.

"The response has been really positive," Hector Minto, a spokesperson for Tobii Dynavox told

People around the world use our symbols already. It just seemed like a natural step in how we keep people safe.

"Please share this page," the website says.

Together we can make a small difference in someone’s life.

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