- For an in-depth description what this project will include, see Wikispeech/Pilot study. For the extension itself, see Extension:Wikispeech.
The Wikispeech project aims to create an open source text-to-speech tool. Wikispeech will make Wikimedia's projects more accessible for people that have difficulties reading for different reasons. Wikispeech will be available as a MediaWiki extension. It will be a server based solution, which means that it can be used without having to install any software locally (something that is not possible on all devices used to access the Internet). All components will be open source and all data and documentation will be under a free license so that it can also be included on other platforms. The development of a text-to-speech extension for MediaWiki has been carefully investigated and planed during a pilot study in Autumn 2015. Existing solutions available under suitable free licences that could be integrated, and what still needed development were identified at this stage.
During the initial part of the project, lasting from March 2015 – September 2017 and financed by the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS), the necessary structures will be put in place and Wikispeech will be working in Swedish and English, and will be possible to use also in Arabic (a Right-to-left language). We have seen a great interest from universities to be involved and work with us to develop different parts.
The Wikispeech extension will be built in a way that makes it possible to add new components and more languages over time and it will become increasingly better through crowdsourcing. Anyone interested can help to make the text-to-speech work better by improving the lexicon with new words, point out mistakes and so forth.
With the help of synthetic speech, people who find it easier to assimilate information through speech than text can get equal access to the information. In the long run the open nature of the project will make it possible to develop new ways of presenting spoken information, e.g. through a player intended for mobile phones. This could include those with visual impairment, dyslexia or who are not literate. The approximately 25% of people who find it easier to learn from spoken text could utilize this functionality as well as those who wish to learn at the same time as they do something else (e.g. driving). 25% of the readers of Wikipedia would mean that approximately 115–125 million people would benefit from the project in the long run.
Those who have received a medical diagnosis regarding limitations in reading comprehension (e.g. dyslexia, visual impairment or cognitive impairment) often have access to technological aids. This however very often requires a diagnosis, that you live in a high income country and that the language you speak has working text-to-speech for this to be a solution to the accessibility problem. People with poor reading comprehension (from unaccustomed readers to analfabets) also have limited access to commercial tools even if this would improve their understanding. This is especially true if they do not wish to share their data with one of the IT behemoths. To conclude, the assessment is that a very large group would benefit from built in text-to-speech on Wikipedia. Making all of the websites which use MediaWiki more accessible to those who find it hard to assimilate written information is therefore incredibly important.
The project will increase the accessibility of one of the most important websites. All other platforms using MediaWiki will be able to make use of the technical solutions which are developed during the project. That is several thousand websites which quick and easy will be able to activate text-to-speech.
An example how Wikispeech is likely to sound.
- 15 March 2015: The work with the pilot study is initiated, outlining the work needed and creating an external grant application.
- 10 March 2016: A press release about the project is sent out. Over 60 newspaper articles are published about the project.
- 15 March 2016: The project is officially launched.
- 8 April 2016: A developer, Sebastian Berlin is hired and start working full time with the MediaWiki integration.
I like this project...
... and I would like to help out
Please add yourself below if you are interested in helping out with the project. Please specify who you are and your areas of interest and any relevant expertise.
- YOUR NAME − WHAT YOU CAN HELP WITH
- Heath Ahrens (hahrens at ispeech dot org)- can help with text to speech in 27 languages. Founder of http://www.iSpeech.org
- brion (talk) - browser side stuff and mediawiki integration :)
- Pawel Cyrta – ex-Samsung s-voice tts engineer for european languages
- Andrew Krizhanovsky – can test application in Russian language with my students
- High-five for bringing such an amazing project. Would love to contribute for the Odia language. --Psubhashish (talk) 11:07, 22 December 2016 (UTC)
- Bodhisattwa - Interested to have this feature for Bengali language wikis.
- Arabic --Zack (talk) 15:26, 2 January 2017 (UTC)
- Dr Mel Ganus - working with American Foundation for the Blind - community building and engagement --DrMel (talk) 19:53, 17 January 2017 (UTC)
- Alangi Derick (alangiderick at gmail dot com) - I would like to help out as a volunteer developer on the project. --Alangi derick (talk) 12:09, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
- I love this project and will contribute in Telugu language. --Pavan santhosh.s (talk) 06:28, 20 March 2017 (UTC)
... and I would like to endorse it
Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project in the list below. Other feedback, questions or concerns from community members are also highly valued, but please post them on the talk page.
- YOUR NAME − WHY YOU THINK THIS IS IMPORTANT
- Awesome ! Best news emerging from the Wikimedia movement in the recent times!--Ravidreams (talk) 07:09, 21 December 2016 (UTC)
- a worthy effort. Can we expect it to work in Hebrew as well, not only Arabic? Esh77 (talk) 10:05, 23 December 2016 (UTC)
- Yes - Endorse! Delighted to see you've already gotten so much done - keep up the good work! I hope to connect with you all soon! DrMel (talk) 19:53, 17 January 2017 (UTC)
- Yes - I totally Endorse this project. This will go a long way to make even the visually impaired read Wikipedia (which they are a percentage of the society out there). This is a great initiative --Alangi derick (talk) 19:16, 21 February 2017 (UTC)
- Support, Recording Audio is time consuming and developing a TTS would improve accessibility. Will there be considerations made for other projects with specalist markup like Wikisource? (A lot of formatting in templates for example).
I'll also note that IIRC Edinburgh Universaity had done a LOT of work of so called voice banking, so they may be a useful academic partner to approach. ShakespeareFan00 (talk) 13:10, 9 February 2017 (UTC)
For more information on Wikispeech and its design process, see these directory pages:
- Blog post about Dr. Nawar Halabi and the Arabic voice for Wikispeech
- Accessibility/m:Accessibility for the general efforts in this area
- Extension:PronunciationRecording (for Wiktionary)