Promoting digital inclusion with bilingual keyboard

(Last Updated On: June 21, 2023)

Lenovo has unveiled a new bilingual keyboard, which will be available soon on ThinkPad and Yoga 13W devices. Developed in collaboration with AMD, the aim behind it is to allow students and teachers to easily type the macrons required when writing te reo Māori.

Libby Macgregor at the unveiling of Lenovo’s Bilingual Keyboard

On 21 March, the Nga Whare Waatea Marae in Māngere, Auckland, hosted Lenovo’s unveiling of its ground-breaking Aotearoa New Zealand bilingual keyboard. INTERFACE was invited to attend and heard how the idea came about thanks to Lenovo New Zealand Country Manager Libby Macgregor’s eight-year-old son Felix, who was beginning to learn te reo Māori in school and questioned why there wasn’t hardware available to support his learning.

“He came home one day and asked me ‘Mum, why can’t I find the keys on the keyboard to type in te reo Māori?’ It was then I realised we didn’t have the hardware to make this as easy as it should be,” explained Macgregor. “Lenovo has an incredible Product Diversity Office, and it was in consultation with this team that we created something that could support the learning and use of te reo Māori. This is why this launch is a particularly meaningful one for me, personally.”

“Digital devices in countries with large English-speaking populations often miss out on products with alternate characters for languages. This results in a digital divide for consumers who do not have a viable solution to use technology the way they want to, impacting their daily use of preferred languages.

Everyday lives

“Māori is a culture that stays alive predominantly through use of the language. A number of organisations are leading this important Kaupapa, however, the journey is ongoing. Lenovo wants to contribute by enabling Aotearoa’s rangatahi and professional workforce to utilise te reo Māori with ease in their everyday lives, through the launch of this keyboard.”

In 2020, Lenovo launched its Product Diversity Office to ensure that its solutions are easily accessible, and reflect the diversity needs of its worldwide customer base with a goal to have 75 per cent of all products vetted for inclusion by 2025. The launch of the bilingual keyboard signifies a further step in changing the landscape of digital equity and inclusion, through smarter technology for all Aotearoa New Zealand.

Close up of the macrons on the keys.

“Language is fundamental when it comes to culture, preserving it allows us to pass on history and traditions for generations to come.”, said Peter Chambers, Managing Director, Sales, AMD Asia Pacific & Japan. “We, at AMD, are active champions of diversity and inclusion. Our relentless drive to innovate means we always seek to redefine the status quo. Today, it is through the launch of the Lenovo Aotearoa New Zealand bilingual keyboard in select ThinkPad and Education laptop devices. We are incredibly thrilled to be a part of this significant step forward in promoting greater diversity in education”.

Indigenous languages

The launch of the bilingual keyboard follows Lenovo’s ongoing investment into the preservation of indigenous cultures through its Lenovo Foundation, which has most recently seen Motorola partnering with UNESCO to conduct further research on the impact and potential of digitising endangered indigenous languages.

“Together with the Lenovo Foundation, Motorola is proud to be partnering with UNESCO to digitise endangered indigenous languages over the next 10 years. Our plans to include te ao Māori on the handset user interface of all Motorola devices this year further highlights Lenovo and Motorola’s commitment to help close the gap in digitally inclusive technology,” said Kurt Bonnici, Head of Motorola, Australia and New Zealand.

The Aotearoa New Zealand bilingual keyboard will be available soon on selected ThinkPad and Yoga 13W devices, for use in learning environments – including through the TELA+ scheme. Lenovo plans to release the device to consumer customers at a later date.

INTERFACE March 2023

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