Friday, May 30, 2008

Embedded Chat Widgets

Although I have found it inconvenient for users (and me) to have interactive widgets on this blog, one of these might be useful for a wiki page as it could be more self-contained.

Suggestions from the Webhead elist include (from Robert Squires):

Yackpack - the Walkie Talkie Widget formerly available directly on PBWiki, and which has Voicegroups.

Meebo - you create your own chatroom and paste the code into the sidebar of your wiki or blog.

Gabbly - the PBWiki default, was mentioned several times as having horrible advertisements that you can't get rid of. However, any person who visits the wiki can chat with other visitors who are there at the same time while with Gtalk or Meebo, the visitors can only chat with the owner of that widget (ie.e, the creator of the wiki) but not with each other (per Negiz in a responding email).

Robert also offered an interesting blog site with a list of ten more chat widgets: ReadWriteWeb.

I followed this breadcrumb trail and found an interesting site, built by Kiernan, that strings together YouTube videos so that you get continuous play, one after another, on a particular subject (in this case rock groups). Anyone can add a video without a password, though this feature might present problems in a school setting. Nice code, though a little removed from the original subject, chat widgets:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Websites for Teaching the Blind

These links are from Dottuta (Kuwait Univ) of the Webheads, based on work with a blind student. The voice potential of the Web (and for Deaf students, the visual/closed captioning potential) should really make a difference. I have added some annotation to the list of sites, which are mainly British and American. The most promising of these is first on the list. I'd love to hear from anyone with information about sites in other languages, or additional English language sites.

Camera Obscura has lists of links to a wide variety of text-to-audio friendly sites, including hypertext archives, museums, query-submission forms for search engines, news readers, government resources, etc. Relatively conveniently organized by type of resource.

WWW Resources and Homepages [for the Blind] - a list of useful links, unfortunately in no particular order, but with helpful descriptions.

The Braille Institute's page of links (alpha-sorted) to various non-profit organizations that assist the blind, with a brief description of the mission of each. It would take some initiative to further explore and sort through the links on each of these pages.

Action for Blind People, according to this site, "is an expert national (UK) organisation, ensuring blind and partially sighted people receive practical support in all aspects of their lives." News and information relevant to issues affecting people with this disability, all with audio recordings. (Wouldn't a podcast feature to be nice?)

Tom Lorimer's Home Page, "has been set up to assist the Visually Impaired computer user locate information and services relating to blindness." The site is mainly focused on computer, software, and Internet issues and resources, but also has links to other useful sites. Useful links, though not well organized.

VIP Games Zone offers "accessible sound games for blinds [sics] and visually impaired people," and includes some free games and an e-list to converse with other players. Appears to be home-made software, but I haven't had a chance to try it out.

And this from Nergiz, also of the Webheads:

Odiogo claims to create text-to-speech podcasts for your blogs with a "Listen Button feature deployed in next to no time for WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, BlogEngine.NET and Terapad platforms."

And see the previous entry also [yeah, here's where I need a wiki instead!]

By the way, this blog also has an audio text-to-speech feature, though it usually takes a few days for the audio to be compiled and linked to my posts.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Oddcast TTS

Text-to-speech (TTS) might be a great way for students to hear what they are trying to say. SitePal now has a version of TTS that sounds pretty authentic. Try it out at

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Dipity has an easy Google-type interface that allows you to create a timeline. This is an example from Michael Coughlan's Life.

Other Webheads have suggested using the interface in a jig-saw activity, where groups of students can add the info they collect as they read or research. You can add info/pix from other sites, such as Twitter and Flickr.