When it comes to developing new solutions, we focus on our current products and how to make them better but also on new ideas that sometimes become part of our portfolio. Some products become successful and others don’t get the market acceptance we thought they would. It’s a trial and error process that we have encouraged ever since starting ReadSpeaker back in 1999.
Parallel to this, we also want to try experimental stuff that we consider more as lab type projects that sit apart from our commercial products. One of the them that just went live is a new experimental way of listening to Wikipedia. We were always surprised that there has never been a readily available audio access for such a text-rich site that so many users depend on to gather knowledge. So we came up with a solution to solve this problem notably for all those that have reading disabilities. The United Nations estimates that approximately 15% or 1 billion people in the world live with some form of disability. Many of these include reading disabilities such as illiteracy and dyslexia for example. Unicef estimated that 1 billion will enter the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. Adding an audio version of text content also helps users with low vision, language learners or anyone who just wants to listen in addition to reading. Any simple and easy-to-use tool that can help users get better access to information is a step in the right direction.
So we decided to develop a floating audio player that Wikipedia readers can now use to listen to any English-language article (more languages could be speech-enabled in the future).
The audio player is by default always on the lower right-hand side of the screen but you can move it anywhere you want. The audio player gives users several options such as switching to text mode only or keeping the page in the original layout mode. There is also a settings button which enables users to select the type of highlighting and the reading speed so as to provide an even more customizable listening and reading experience. The listen button in the panel will read the entire page. You can also choose to only listen to part of any article by simply selecting text which will trigger a pop-up Listen button.
We’d love to get your feedback on this type of approach to making Wikipedia content more easily accessible for users so please reach out to us here on our blog or on our different social feeds.
So if you want to listen to Wikipedia, try it out now!
You can easily listen to any Wikipedia article by adding the service as a bookmark.
Drag this button to your bookmarks: Listen to Wikipedia