SpeakEZ (Karen)

Project Description:

Syracuse, New York is home to 12,000 resettled refugees from 16 different countries, and this population continues to grow. The Onondaga Citizens League, a local civic group, released an influential report (The World at our Doorstep, 2012-13) on this population and recommended creation of a “single location …for information” and other resources to facilitate refugee resettlement. Our surveys and focus group sessions since 2013 with the Burmese Karen, who are part of the area’s largest single refugee group, underline the value of a one-stop resources and services center.

These refugee groups have limited English literacy, which would limit the value of a web-based portal. Computer access and digital literacy are low, as is textual literacy in their own language. Access to public transportation is a problem, so the appeal of a brick-and-mortar one-stop shop is limited. On the plus side, a technology that is nearly ubiquitous is the simple mobile phone. Using an open source interactive voice response (IVR) platform, SpeakEZ is being developed as an easy-to-use communication and information system designed for textually-illiterate Karen with a mobile phone-based voice interface to facilitate one-stop access to a broad range of assistive resources and services (Karen-sourced and other) necessary for successful resettlement.


  1. Dionne Noella Barretto
  2. Seyram Samklu
  3. Sagar Dherai
  4. Aakash Mody
  5. Nick Lehrman

Project Sponsor Prof. Murali Venkatesh
Technical Lead Prof. Bahram Attaie

Click the link below for the project presentation slides.
SpeakEZ (Karen)