The lack of access to visual information like text labels, icons, and colors can cause frustration and decrease independence for blind people. Current access technology uses automatic approaches to address some problems in this space, but the technology is error-prone, limited in scope, and quite expensive. In this paper, we introduce VizWiz, a talking application for mobile phones that offers a new alternative to answering visual questions in nearly real-time-asking multiple people on the web. To support answering questions quickly, we introduce a general approach for intelligently recruiting human workers in advance called quikTurkit so that workers are available when new questions arrive. A field deployment with 11 blind participants illustrates that blind people can effectively use VizWiz to cheaply answer questions in their everyday lives, highlighting issues that automatic approaches will need to address to be useful. Finally, we illus-trate the potential of using VizWiz as part of the participatory design of advanced tools by using it to build and evaluate VizWiz::LocateIt, an interactive mobile tool that helps blind people solve general visual search problems.