Speaking Books

Speaking Books

Cape Town , South AfricaCape Town , South Africa
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Dementia SA is the leading provider of awareness, information, education and support services to all those affected by dementia.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The term dementia refers to a degenerative brain syndrome involving gradual deterioration in multiple areas of cognitive functioning.Dementia damages brain cells, or the connections between brain cells, and impairs an individual’s ability to communicate, behave and make decisions. Dementia is chronic, progressive and terminal. Dementia SA aim to meet the need of those who can not read but need to understand dementia through the Speaking Book "What is dementia". Books of Hope has revolutionized health communication with people who can not read. Illiteracy severely reduces the effectiveness of any literature distributed to the many thousands in need of health care education. The Speaking Book is a world first, and has received many awards and nominations.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Books of Hope partnered with SADAG, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, to design and produce interactive, multilingual Speaking Books that can be seen, read, heard and understood by the reader regardless of their reading ability. Dementia SA with production assistance from SADAG will produce 5000 Speaking Books "What is dementia" to distribute to Xhosa speaking communities. Funding is our only challenge to see this project come to fruition to benefit thousands of rural people affected by dementia.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

“Persons with dementia cannot advocate for themselves. The human race is biologically wired to care for helpless babies to ensure their survival. The human race lacks the same genetic and societal motivation to care for helpless adults, especially women. It is often said that the true measure of any society is how it treats all its most vulnerable members”. Dementia SA was formally registered in 2006 as a non-profit organisation and was awarded Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) status and holds B-BBEE status level 4. Dementia SA is also registered with the USA and UK Charities Trust and has (501 (c) 3) status. Dementia SA is proud of our regular unqualified audits by an internationally recognised audit firm and the Western Cape Department of Social Development. Dementia SA is able to issue current Tax Clearance certificates and Section 18A certificates for donations received.Older persons are a vulnerable population group in South Africa. Older persons with dementia (and persons of any age with dementia, for that matter) are amongst the most vulnerable, subject to financial exploitation, abuse and neglect by family members and caregivers. South Africa’s transformed health care system has no chance of attaining the equity it aspires to if persons with dementia are not specifically included and covered. What we do at Dementia SA: Capacity and community development through awareness raising,training,support groups,skills development, family counselling, support groups and advocacy (influencing those in power to take up a cause for the greater good of the citizens.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are over 100 different types of Dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most commonly known form. South Africa has unfortunately not clearly identified Dementia as either a mental health disorder or a neurological disorder and it is classed in the two categories causing confusion and resulting in few resources being allocated to this disease. Of particular concern, is the lack of resources allocated to the elderly as dementia is perceived to be a disease of the elderly. However, AIDS Dementia complex is rapidly increasing in the country and responsible for the growing number of persons with early onset dementia in their 40’s. 1 in 3 people with HIV/AIDS will develop AIDS Dementia Complex.

Founding Story

Our Executive Director had an "Aha!!" moment when she first saw the Speaking Books which SADAG produced. It was the perfect solution of how to reach some of the communities we serve who can not read. Our Executive Director met with SADAG to look at the possibility of producing a Speaking Book "What is dementia". SADAG will work hand in glove with Dementia SA, once we have obtained the required funding, to produce the first batch of Xhosa Speaking Books "What is dementia". We are all looking forward to the day when Dementia SA will be able to produce "What is dementia" to our vulnerable communities who can not read.
About You
Dementia SA
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Dementia SA

Organization Country

, WC, Cape Town

Country where this project is creating social impact

, WC, Cape Town

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for more than 5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two


Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

Within one year of commencing the project Dementia SA would have reached 5000 individuals directly and 50 000 to 100 000 indirectly with the first intended language Speaking Book in Xhosa. As funding becomes available Dementia SA will produce a re-run depending on the evaluation and need, and roll out the project to include additional languages for different communities. We have 11 official languages in South Africa.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Due to our partnership with SADAG we have their expertise in producing the Speaking Books to draw on. Although this will be a first for Dementia SA we have the co-operation and assistance from theSADAG.In an amazing show of appreciation for patient education in Africa, the UN and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) awarded SADAG the information and communication technology prize for their health innovation, the Speaking Book (May 2011). SADAG triumphed over 1 400 participants from 80 countries. The awards are given in recognition of initiatives that develop and take advantage of information and communication technologies for education in Africa. The Speaking Book was created to allow critical health care information to reach even the most rural and illiterate communities. Africa has some of the poorest communities in the world, some of the worst health care facilities and in many areas, people need to travel up to 80 km to reach a clinic that is often over-crowded and under-serviced.

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

The Speaking Books, once available, will enhance our existing projects in that we will be able to reach a far wider audience. Funding to produce the books is our only major constraint. Once we start producing the books in different languages (Xhosa, Zulu and Sesotho being the first three languages it will be produced in) as funding becomes available we will be able to produce it in more languages for South Africa and eventually to other neighbouring countries as well as abroad. We envisage only 5000 Xhosa Speaking Books for year one. As the product shows value we believe more funders will come aboard making it easier to achieve our target of one additional language per year. Adding one language per year by year 5 this means Dementia SA will have a range of 5 different languages.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

One of the potential risks is the delay in getting the books out to district clinics. We have considered the provincial Department of Health to assist us with this and once funding is confirmed we believe we will have their full co-operation. The organisation has a good relationship with both the Minister’s of Health and Social Development in the Western Cape who would endorse the project.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

We will evaluate our project for progress at regular monthly intervals as we do all our projects via our statistical gathering.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

To produce the 5000 books we need 90 days from date of receiving the funding.

Task 2

Within the 90 days in Task 1 we need to ensure relevant key messages witgh assistance from our medical experts.

Task 3

Community level distribution. Communites as identified to start receiving books.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

To have reached 5000 people direct and 50 000 to 100 000 indirect.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

To produce the 5000 books we need 90 days from date of receiving the funding.

Task 2

Within the 90 days in Task 1 we need to ensure relevant key messages witgh assistance from our medical experts.

Task 3

Starting the distribution of books will be within the 6-month milestone. The balance of books to be distributed.

Tell us about your partnerships

Western Cape Dept of Social Development:Collaboration with district offices to render training and referral of abused cases requiring intervention. Dementia UK: dementia-training specialists came to South Africa in 2007 and 2010 to give the Dementia SA team hands-on training. Dis-Chem Pharmacies: trained pharmacists regarding dementia and during events are involved with awareness stands in the pharmacies. STTOP - Sector Task Team for Older Persons:to profile and advocate on behalf of older persons sector organisations within South Africa.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your innovation? If so, where and why?

We intend concentrating on South Africa and obtain funding to translate the Speaking Books in as many of the local languages as possible (depending on funding. The same book can be re-done in one or more different languages within the same country, stripping out the text and redoing the recording. This new book will be produced in the same time frame and at similar cost as a new book, minus the cost of design and illustration. Once the first 5000 Speaking Books are produced, Dementia SA will through this alone raise its profile and attract more funding.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

Dementia SA, the South African leader in dementia, has valuable partnerships with organisations, doctors, other non-profit organisations, clinics and relevant stakeholders. These channels have been identified in the different communities for distribution. Our Social worker and Support Groups will be able to identify families and communities in need of the books.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list