Re: The top three big problems

  • From: "Will Pearson" <will@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2007 22:41:12 +0100

Hi Marlon,

Marlon wrote:
"1- Non random navegation: A sighted person can scroll quickly the text
of some thousands of lines untill they see a green color then they
know that is a variable declaration or untill they see a idented block
then they know that uge if statement opened 200 lines ago is closed.
We can't. Having commands like next declaration, next definition, next
block and their previous conter parts would greatly emprove navegation
speed."

Good suggestion. I might also add a spatialised audio display using sound beacons, as this would facilitate target selection without a serial ordering, but these are still pretty much research toys.

The efficiency with which a user of a speech based UI can navigate and process information has been an interest of mine since 2003, when Chris Hofstader first asked me to take a look at making Visio accessible. It's something that is often neglected and this leaves a user of a speech based UI at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to performing tasks. I think there are two reasons why it's a neglected topic. Firstly, we don't really know why navigation using a speech based UI takes longer we just know that it does. There hasn't been much research published on the topic and the research that has been published has tended to focus on web pages and not on how the speech itself is implemented, which is where I think the problem lies. The second problem is that I think we're still stuck twenty years in the past when it comes to designing software and services for the blind. I once read a message on one of the ACM's email lists that discuss human computer interaction. The message came from a Canadian human factors expert who made a very good point. If you are designing things for people who have a lot of spare time that they can use for training then you don't necessarily need to worry about making things easy to use and learn because your target users can afford to spend time learning it. I think we're taking this approach to designing software and services for blind people. The problem is that the expectations of blind people have grown over the past ten or twenty years. The types of work that blind people want to undertake have changed and along with this the demands that a blind person faces have changed. Also, blind people now expect promotions to higher positions within companies and this also increases the demands on a blind person. So, the amount of time that a typical blind person has to work have increased but the software and services designed for blind people haven't taken this into account. The software and services are still designed with the assumption that the user spends most of their time sitting at home doing nothing and they therefore have plenty of time to spend training. You can tell this by the fact that Eric Damery refers to usability issues as "training issues", or at least he did when I contracted for FS. This doesn't just apply to software but it also applies to other services. If someone's working can they really afford to take four weeks off work to train with a guide dog? Will their employer even let them take that sort of time off? I think we need to reconsider just how much spare time blind people have and what they want to do with that spare time when designing things for blind people. This assumption that blind people have plenty of time to spend on training makes it harder for blind people to get jobs and for those of us who have jobs to retain them. Whilst the situation at the moment may be accessible it certainly isn't equal.

Will __________ View the list's information and change your settings at //www.freelists.org/list/programmingblind

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