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MRU student-designed AR app provides Blackfoot language translation

Augmented reality is helping preserve the Blackfoot language through a student-developed app at Mount Royal University.

The app allows users to capture the Blackfoot wayfinding signage in the Riddell Library and Learning Centre and have it translated into English. It also has pronunciation prompts.

MRU library media designer, Matt Laidlow, said the augmented reality allows the user to access more information about the Blackfoot word and the language than would be allowed on the smaller signs.

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“For a lot of the translations there’s not a one-to-one English to Blackfoot word, so it’s more about the concept,” Laidlow said, in a prepared release.  

The app, developed by third-year Information Design student Chase Schrader, is called DeciphAP and has a pronunciation guide, a video with Elder Leo Fox from the Red Crow College in Lethbridge and has descriptions of the terms on the signs. It also has a quiz for users to test their knowledge on the Blackfoot language.

Schrader said the app is an opportunity to raise awareness and provide information for those curious about learning more about the Blackfoot signs.

The app was produced in partnership with Red Crow College.

Blackfoot wayfinding helps with Indigenous placemaking

DeciphAR includes a video from elder Leo Fox from Red Crow College in Lethbridge. Anna Nuhn, Jessie Loyer (left) and Chase Schrader (right) record the video with Fox. CONTRIBUTED

MRU librarian Jessie Loyer, Cree-Metis and a member of the Michel First Nation, said having the signage and the app help with placemaking at the university.

“Blackfoot signage right now runs the risk of becoming museum-ified, as if they are a fun little art piece. But we want it to be used,” Loyer said.

“We want people to not be afraid of the pronunciation, to feel that they can use these words and know how to pronounce them so it’s less of an obstacle and more of an opportunity.”

The app was tested on campus and feedback from users was applied to the final product.

The app is available for Apple iPhone and Google Android devices.