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Call for Participation: Workshop on Internationalized Domains Names (IDNs) in Africa

The Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will be hosting a workshop on Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) from 26-27 November 2015 in Point- Noire, Congo, prior to the AFRINIC-23 meeting. Building on ICANN's Africa Strategy, which was launched three years ago, and with the support of ICANN's IDN program, this new workshop will focus on IDNs in the context of African languages and scripts. It will introduce the IDN Program at ICANN and the work being done by the script based Generation Panels.

The objective of this workshop is to galvanize the African community's support and encourage them to participate in the necessary script-based work that is already underway. By contributing to this ongoing effort, participants will help promote IDNs in indigenous African scripts (e.g. Ethiopic) and the use of Latin script for African languages.

Participants are expected to actively contribute to the discussions during the workshop, and are expected to volunteer for script-based panels - Latin or other scripts – that may be set up to support African scripts. Language experts, ccTLD managers, computer specialists and other community members interested in lDNs are invited to attend.

Those interested in participating and contributing should send an email to yaovi.atohoun@icann.org (with CC to pierre.dandjinou@icann.org) no later than 15 October 2015.

Candidates should indicate if they are able to fund their participation. There is limited logistical support available for participation from ICANN, and support will be based on the following criteria:

  • Relevant qualifications and experience;
  • Confirmation that you will volunteer for a script based Panel (specify Latin or other script);
  • Extent of support needed (travel or accommodation logistics, or both; candidates with at least partial support will be given preference).

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Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."