When they were 10 and 14, brothers Abdoulaye and Ibrahima Barry set out to invent an alphabet for their native language, Fulfulde, which had been spoken by millions of people for centuries but never had its own writing system.
But the Fulbhe people never developed a script for their language, instead using Arabic and sometimes Latin characters to write in their native tongue, also known as Fulani, Pular and Fula.
The brothers’ script found a champion in Glass, who had developed Windows keyboards for several languages and worked on supporting various writing systems in Microsoft technology.
Glass told others at Microsoft about ADLaM and helped connect the Barry brothers to the right people at the company.
Microsoft worked with two type designers in Maine, Mark Jamra and Neil Patel, to develop an ADLaM component for Windows and Office within Microsoft’s existing Ebrima font, which also supports other African writing systems.