I learned about this very interesting website called Qwiki that reads text to its users. A Qwiki is basically a piece of textual information that is mainly derived from Wikipedia (think of it as a Wikipedia page itself). A Qwiki usually consists of several other Qwikis as well. A user goes to Qwiki’s website and either searches for a topic or selects one of the featured Qwikis. Once selected, the Qwiki is read aloud to the user (in a rather pleasant ,voice). The speech runs in the background and the many images from the Qwiki are shown to the users along with the text that is being read (which can be considered as captions). Here is an example.

This is the main Qwiki website. Notice that it has a “Enter a Topic” text box that lets you search for topics, and a “Featured Qwikis” section.


Selecting one starts playing the contents of the Qwiki. As you can see in the next screen, it shows not only pictures related to the topic (red arrows; which are a part of that Qwiki), but also the text that is being read aloud (blue arrow).

Click the button below to listen to the audio (apologies for the quality and volume of the audio):


As I mentioned earlier, A Qwiki consists of several other Qwikis as well, Just like a Wikipedia page consists of links to other broader topics. Clicking the “Contents” tab on the top (red arrow) reveals all the other Qwiki a certain Qwiki may contain (blue arrow).

These Qwikis can be improved by users and also shared on popular social networking sites.

This looks like a great tool for students with disabilities who may not have access to their own computer that has text to speech software installed. Consider a student with low vision who is at the library without their personal laptop. In such a situation, they can just go to this website and listen to the millions of articles that are available to be read aloud. Also, a student with hearing impairment may just read the scrolling text that is displayed in a slightly bigger font. One great thing about Qwiki is that it displays only two lines of text at a time, which can be beneficial for students with learning disabilities (especially those who struggle with basic reading skills). They can pause the Qwiki whenever they want to and just focus on the pictures, and the text, and move to the next two lines whenever they are ready.

Hit the source link at the bottom of this post to see a demo of Qwiki by its creators. The demo also shows a Qwiki phone app with an alarm. A person would wake up to the Qwiki app alarm which would tell them the time, date, current weather conditions with highs and lows, and reads all their appointments to them. Not having to access a computer to get all that information would definitely be appreciated by people with disabilities!

Qwiki is still in Alpha.

Source: TechCrunch


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