Hi Andy, Andy wrote:"I think, while perhaps an old argument, that my mind keeps coming back to the idea of curb cuts. Originally, with curb cuts the idea was to cut in to make curbs accessible to wheelchairs. At first glance, this may sound like a custom change that only helps a small community, although as we now know, it makes bike access, stroller access, and other wheeled access more accessible for all.
I think of the programming tools for the blind in the same way. By studying how we can best represent speech for analyzing state information, control flow, data flow, whatever, and carefully controlling how navigation and other issues work, we might be able to create programming tools that are wildly more effective for the blind and at least potentially more effective in general."
I agree. I think that Marlon's suggestions about navigating by perceptual groups would be a useful idea to explore in this regard. Visually, code is presented in parallel for the most part but it is serialised sometimes. By this I mean that you get multiple code elements on a single page but you get multiple pages with each page being presented serially.
If a perceptual group spans a page then it may be the case that the next perceptual marker that someone wants to move their attention to isn't visible at that time. This would mean that the user would have to scroll the file to find the perceptual marker they were looking for. I suspect that searching for a perceptual marker in this manner not only reduces efficiency, as people can't use the quick cognitive mechanisms of moving attentional focus, but also raises the cognitive workload as the user would have to perform comparison operations on the code elements to discover whether they were the target of their search. As the target is likely to be identifiable based on it's perceptual attributes I don't think the workload introduced by the search would be significant but it would still be an increase.
Speech is serial by nature. So, a lot of the navigation techniques that are designed to overcome the problems inherent in serial speech can be used to overcome navigation problems associated with serialising other sensory stimuli.
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