Grants:IdeaLab/A "Listen" Button

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
A "Listen" Button
Add a listen button that uses a text-to-speech program to read the article
contact emailjmh649(_AT_)
idea creator
Doc James
community organizer
Doc James
HakanISTK CMSMapleSyrupRainSamaldis
this project needs...
project manager
created on04:19, 25 January 2015 (UTC)

Project idea[edit]

What is the problem you're trying to solve?[edit]

Many people have a limited ability to read or want to listen to content while doing other things. To improve the accessibility and utility of Wikipedia allowing people to simply listen to the content will help.

While human spoken articles are often better they exist for very few articles. They often also become quickly out of date and do not reflect new changes since their creation.

What is your solution?[edit]

There are a lot of open-source text-to-speech programs. One claims to function in 50 languages. 37 are listed here [1].


  • Spoken articles have a major accessibility dimension, making Wikipedia content available to those who can understand an Indian Language or English but cannot read it.
  • Users can listen to Wikipedia articles while they perform tasks that exclude reading but not concentration (such as running, or housework), thus making the process more fun.
  • Such audio articles are a valuable learning tool for those who are learning English. If a link is given to the version of the page that was recorded, users may listen to the words while reading them.
  • Spoken articles are a valuable learning tool for auditory learners (people who learn most effectively by listening to information delivered orally).
  • Some may find it easier to concentrate on an article while listening to it, especially in an environment with distracting sounds (with the use of headphones).
  • By hearing articles read aloud, readers can catch inconsistencies, redundancies, and awkward phrases not noticed by other editors, thus improving the written version of Wikipedia.

Project goals[edit]

The goal is a "listen" button beside the "read" button at the top of all Wikipedia articles.

Get involved[edit]

I am looking for someone interested in taking on this idea. Will require some programming abilities which I am lacking. Happy to help with the development of consensus. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 04:21, 25 January 2015 (UTC)

Does this idea need funding? Learn more about WMF grantmaking. Or, expand to turn this idea into an Individual Engagement Grant proposal
Step 1. Change your infobox from IdeaLab to IEG:

Step 2. Create the rest of your IEG proposal:

Ready to create the rest of your proposal?
Use the button below just once to create the remaining sections you'll need!

Other products[edit]


Per a survey done in Kenya 82% of people want spoken content

Contribution - Sam Aldis[edit]

Looking into using Browsers SpeachAPIMDN to do the work, then its just the matter of having a button that would execute the javascript.


  • WMSE has explored this idea and found that there is a need for such a tool. Ainali (talk) 08:29, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Endorse. I'm actually surprised that this doesn't exist and it'd definitely be useful. I don't have any programming skills, but I'm willing to help where I can. 03:28, 9 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I support this 100%. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 23:33, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Great idea for many reasons, including but not limited to: People who are audio-based learners, People who would prefer to listen than read (in car, doing housework), People who do not use vision to access information, Helping people learn English by listening while reading Leerwesen (talk) 23:44, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Since 2005 there has been a project on wiki dedicated to reading pages and saving them WP:SPOKEN. Now with newer technology lets move the onerous from individual editors to an automatic system. If you check there page they also give great reasons. --Frederika Eilers (talk) 14:46, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
  • This sounds like a great idea. Chess (talk) 11:58, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
It really speaks to me. Chess (talk) 02:25, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
  • I endorse this idea, I tried to convince an Italian University to release a TTSL (Text to Sign Language) converter that they developed (after the project was over), but unfortunately they said in the end that changing the license was too complicated. --CristianCantoro (talk) 10:41, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Support - but with a caveat that there would need to be encouragment of native speakers to develop phoneme rules for various languages/scripts. ShakespeareFan00 (talk) 16:25, 18 December 2015 (UTC)
  • This function could be very helpfull. Lionel Allorge (talk) 19:31, 22 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Great idea. I support it. Zygimantus (talk) 16:35, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I strongly support this idea. Thanks to spoken articles, Wikipedia content would be available to those cannot read it, improving accesibility. Rodelar (talk) 10:40, 16 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Brilliant idea. The spoken recordings are good, but are almost always reading a years-old version. LoudLizard (talk) 18:12, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
  • Having more spoken articles would allow people to learn interesting things about a topic while doing other things. CoolieCoolster (talk) 18:40, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
  • I believe for long commutes or general learning this could create a very useful tool for those who just want to expand their knowledge

But it will also be of use in the emerging markets or developing nations in which perhaps literacy rates are much lower.

With google working on replicating the human voice through advancements in neural-networks etc and actually creating the voice from pure sound output instead of pre-recorded speech this could be much easier to listen to as well. Samaldis (talk) 02:20, 17 September 2018 (UTC)

  • Being able to listen to wikipedia as a STANDARD without extra apps would make my (and I'm sure a lot of other peoples) life easier - in my case just learning on the go without an extra app - but in terms of acessability, aria is the standard for html, I think a wikimedia markdown version (without html, and possibly automatically added) of this should at LEAST be implemented, but better would be as mentioned in the solution a button for all users would make learning a lot easier! Samaldis (talk) 19:51, 26 October 2018 (UTC)


  • Community organizer Would love to join this amazing project. AbhiSuryawanshi (talk) 18:21, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
Great. We need to see if we can get support for this. Will need someone technical to implement Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:11, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
I did not know about this initiative until today, but I am very happy to find out about it! For the last months I have been working on an application for external funding with a team of Text-to-Speech researchers at a Swedish university and STTS, a small Text-to-Speech company.
We are very likely to receive substantial funding during this year for the development of the technical infrastructure. The idea is that we will start with a pilot project specifying what technical development that we need to do, and see if WMF are willing to be involved and to what extent. If everything works smoothly we will then start the development in 2016. Community involvement from the start is as always central and we would love to discuss all aspects with anyone interested. John Andersson (WMSE) (talk) 15:17, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Volunteer Hello, I've msc degree on computer engineering and currently leading a software development team in a turkish university, I've good command in both english and turkish, I'm happy to help in anyway I can. HakanIST (talk) 19:24, 5 September 2015 (UTC)
Great thanks. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 21:23, 5 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Developer The idea looks very interesting for me. I am a software developer with some experience in NLP, and the idea of using something with voice such as TTS engines looks very interesting for me.

I have experience with several languages that includes C++, python, java, R. I have also experience with collaborative tools such as cvs, subversion, git.

Looking to spend sometime in an interesting project. Rdds (talk) 17:01, 5 December 2015 (UTC)

  • Volunteer I am a fluent speaker and writer of English, picking up foreign accents and improving writing techniques throughout the years. I would like to volunteer as a voice talent, narrating English articles on Wikipedia. The job is particularly interesting considering 2015 (and maybe years before it) was the advent of audio books, rampantly endorsed by YouTube channels. If given a chance, it will definitely make my summer productive. K CMS (talk) 12:07, 22 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer I don't have a ton of programming skills but I'm happy to help however I possibly can. MapleSyrupRain (talk) 20:41, 22 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer 18 years of software engineering, web development, IT security and penetration testing behind me and I would be happy to contribute.

if this is still an active project I would like to help develop it, I believe it could be extended much further than just wikipedia articles (i.e. Courses, Books, etc.) Samaldis (talk) 02:27, 17 September 2018 (UTC)