Working Group 3:

Language rights

Exponential progress in technological development gives rise to questions regarding how language rights keep pace with techno-societal advancements. What are the fundamental issues posed by emerging technology in relation to access, equity, participation and well-being among people of language minorities? In addition to foundational humanitarian issues regarding linguistic equality in relation to technology, other burning matters have risen to the fore and are particularly exacerbated by current global developments (pandemics, war, natural disasters, and other forms of crises). 

In light of the importance of communication and access to information, the activities of WG3 delve into questions such as: How technology impacts access to information during crises and in disaster response? What potential do various forms of technological intervention, e.g., Machine Translation, offer  Deaf people, migrants and refugees, and other communities with limited access to communication, education, and other aspects of social life? And/or, when considering “Nothing about us, without us” how is involvement of impacted stakeholders accommodated for in the development of language-oriented technology?  Is there really a need for these technological developments, or is language-tech simply the embodiment of a new commercially driven ableism? How will the human-machine era impact the speakers of technologically less-resourced languages compared to highly-resourced languages?

The human-machine era that promises intelligent earpieces and glasses, followed, in the foreseeable future, by micro-miniaturised eye and brain interfaces alongside interactive natural language bots may find us unprepared. Speaking through and to emerging technologies has the potential to enable better inter-lingual communication and may promote participation in civic debate and democracy. But it bears certain risks as well. The ethical and rights implications of Artificial Intelligence are equally highlighted as an area in need of research and teaching development.

The Language Rights working group has two main aims:

  • to work with computational linguists and data scientists to raise linguists’ awareness of likely near-future emerging technologies, to spur innovations in theory and methods
  • to develop dialogue between linguists technology developers and other potential stakeholders, in the interests of better, safer, more equitable and accessible language technologies for disadvantaged or underrepresented communities (or people)

Follow our 2023 – 2024 (last year of LITHME) online talks with experts from academia, international organisations, think tanks, communities, and IT companies.


Crisis communication, disaster response, accessibility, underrepresented groups, minority language rights, inclusivity, ethical implications

WG chairs:

Angela Soltan

angela [ a t ]

Rebekah Rousi

rebekah.rousi [ a t ]

Lucía Ruiz Rosendo

lucia.ruiz [ a t ]

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