Migration, Education

Sustainable communication tools for refugees and … shortlist


Who is behind this?

Markus Neuschäfer

Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland e.V.



Who is joining forces?

ARSIS-Association for the social support of Youth



Willem de Kooning Academy's Hybrid Publishing Practice



Flüchtlingsrat NRW



Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. supports funding of wikibooks-related print versions; German Alliance for Civilian Assistance e.V. ( http://german-alliance.org ) and Open Knowledge Greece (http://okfn.gr/ ) support distribution with their network, as well as many volunteer initiatives organized on facebook.

Idea Sketch | Proposal


Idea pitch

New languages arrive in Europe, how can we build an open culture? Refugeephrasebook.de organises volunteer translations and distributes useful information. Together with partner institutions in Germany, Greece and the Netherlands, we develop sustainable communication tools to share phrases, icons and helpful links. All materials are adaptable for local needs and distributed with open licenses to foster communication between refugees, citizens and helpers all over Europe.

Where will your idea take place?

Austria, Balkan region, Germany, Greece, UK (currently most volunteers request and distribute phrasebooks here)

Why does Europe need your idea?

Refugees arriving in Europe face huge challenges. Often, they are held in places without adequate shelter, translators or internet access compounded with the uncertainty as to whether or not they can stay in a country for days, weeks or longer. Online resources are often unknown and inaccessible among people who just arrived. Conflicting policies and different languages create barriers to integration and basic communication. This creates tensions between groups and further silences victims.

What is your impact?

Our goal is to empower refugees all across Europe to communicate and voice their needs, independently of network access and battery life, even if they can only stay in a country for a limited time. With adaptable designs and collections of important phrases, helpful links and essential information, we aim to connect and support initiatives with refugee groups, to foster a sustainable culture of welcome combined with the values of an open society.

How do you get there?

Through workshops and surveys coordinated with our network of cooperation partners in Greece, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, we plan to compile useful translated phrases, information and links to include in specific regional versions. A first collection of useful content for regional booklets should be finished by the end of July. Meanwhile WDK Amsterdam already creates layouts for adaptable and reusable designs.

As the most helpful content is agreed upon with stakeholders, we finalize the designs and start printing and distributing phrasebooks in Greece (arsis.gr), the Netherlands (WDK) and Germany (OKF). We also translate the website and enhance usability. We iterate this approach to gather further feedback, create and promote phrasebooks.

What is your story?


Who are you doing it for?

We create adaptable designs of phrasebooks mainly for refugees of all age groups, but our phrasebooks are also a first contact communication tool for volunteer helpers. Reusable icons are an integral part of the planned designs, as an addition to support the communication of minors and those who are illiterate. To foster communication and engagement with new languages in Europe, we also plan to create smaller “conversation” versions for local citizens and support initiatives.

What makes your idea stand apart?

Our approach aims to empower refugees and helpers. Unlike in a fixed format, all materials are closely connected to and change in accordance with local demand. Phrases and materials are created with an open license to be freely used and adapted by refugee support initiatives all over Europe. With feedback and the input of our network of volunteer helpers, we already collected and translated >1500 phrases. Since August 2015, volunteers distributed >110.000 phrasebooks all over Europe.

€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Advocate Europe

€ 65000,-

Total budget

Major expenses

Volunteer feedback, Print and distribution (GR) 20.000 EUR; coordination, outreach and web development 17.500 EUR; office, taxes, accounting and workshops (Berlin) 6000 EUR, workshops with refugee representatives and helpers (Ruhr area) 4.000 EUR, reuseable and adaptable design solutions 2500 €

What do you need from the Advocate Europe community?

If there is a demand for Refugee Phrasebook in your community or to collaborate on a local version, please reach out at info@refugeephrasebook.de .



Idea created on March 8, 2016
Last edit on Oct. 30, 2017

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