The iQpedia is a wiki dedicated to Cued Speech. A wiki allows users to create and link web pages around related subjects. Unlike traditional website design, wikis let users edit web pages easily through a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) interface. So, web site editing works more like a word processor (like Word).
The goal of the iQpedia is to create an online repository for Cued Speech information. The goal is to gather information on Cued Speech technique, applications, history, etc. from many individuals and make it available to other cuers and the public.
Another way that people try to get advice from cuers is by submitting questions to a forum or Facebook. In a forum, a user submits a question and many different people attach comments in a conversation called a thread. This can be a good way to see the opinions of multiple users, to compare ideas, and get multiple viewpoints. A disadvantage of forums is that when you’re trying to find the same answer, you have to read through what may be a very long thread that may contain lots of irrelevant information and back-and-forth conversation. There is generally no summary of the final consensus. Also, threads can go cold. So, while a thread may have been active in 2004, you might not get much response if you want to add a question or clarify a particular point.
Facebook offers an active community of people to respond to questions through comments. However, one finds the same lack of organization and conversation-like responses that hinder getting a quick answer. Also, Facebook posts migrate down your newsfeed after commenting slows, so it is unlikely that others would find the question when they need it.
A wiki is similar to a forum in a number of ways. However, instead of adding points in a linear, separate thread, users collaborate on a single answer. The final product of ongoing wiki editing is an organized article reached through consensus. Points of contention may get re-hashed and edited out, but the final product is generally the points that most people agree with.
A chronic problem for materials developers is finding time. It’s takes time to develop a concept, draft it, get feedback, to edit and revise it, and get it ready for publication. The advantage of the wiki is that one can simply start with a stub (just a very brief article that may only consist of a sentence or two). As others encounter the stub, they can expand it adding what they know. Collaborating on materials is notoriously challenging. However, with a wiki, users can work at their own pace and contribute what they want. The articles develop over time and are never really done.
Funding is another challenge for materials developers. Even if one finds the funding to produce the material, it may be difficult to regain that money or to see a profit. People interested in materials about deafness represent a small portion of the population. Now divide that into those interested in Cued Speech, then transliteration, then down to those seeking national certification. Developing products, especially very specific ones, is challenging because the expense of making products is not likely to be recouped. The advantage in developing the iQpedia is that the site can address a number of topics related to Cued Speech without page limitations and without the need to reprint as field expands. While there are costs involved with creating and maintaining the site, they are used effectively given the scope of topics that can be covered and the ongoing revision that occurs to keep the site current.
How accurate is the information in a wiki? That depends on the users. The goal is that with each revision, articles will be improved. If you encounter what you believe to be an error in an article, you are encouraged to make the correction. If users verify their facts and make revisions, everyone benefits from the collective knowledge of the members. Users should also read with a healthy amount of skepticism. Not everything you encounter is print is correct.
Historically, cuers have been taught that everything they would ever need to know they would learn in an introductory class. That isn’t always the case. Certainly for those who pursue a carreer in cued language transliteration, a great deal more knowledge and skills are required. Then, cuers were encouraged to use outside sources for information and to apply that knowledge to Cued Speech. For example, they are told to use dictionaries, linguistics books, and sign language materials and simply apply that knowledge to cueing. That isn’t always straightforward. The advantage of the iQpedia is that background information about topics like Down syndrome can be provided with specific information about how Cued Speech can be used with that population. Rather than trying to gather information and individually apply it to cueing, we can have a resource to gather what we know about Cued Speech as it applies to many different people and disciplines.
A common concern is that of vandalism. What if someone deliberately deletes articles or maliciously changes content? The iQpedia saves every revision of every article. Every time an article is saved and posted, the previously saved versions are archived. Anyone can revert the article to a previous version if necessary.