Monday, February 19, 2018

Smart Speakers, Speech Recognition, and Accessibility

Steven Aquino:

Smart speakers are a unique product, accessibility-wise, insofar as the voice-first interaction model presents an interesting set of conditions. You can accommodate for blindness and low vision with adjustable font sizes and screen readers. You can accommodate physical motor delays with switches. You can accommodate deafness and hard-of-hearing with closed captioning and using the camera’s flash for alerts.

But how do you accommodate for a speech impairment?

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As a deaf person myself, I'm really glad to see some folks starting to question this. In addition, with the explosion of videos and podcasts, we seem to be left further and further behind in this part of the "revolution." I've broached this in several areas but it fell on deaf ears, pun intended. ; )

On an aside, I wrote this on my blog about those smart speakers and how they would impact me:

"Picture me trying those new-fangled “smart” speakers: I tell it to turn my lamp on, it turns my coffee maker on. I try to eludicate more clearly, it flushes the toilet. Then I try saying it louder and I feel music suddenly blaring from the speakers. Frustrated, I yell that I’m deaf and can’t hear shit and it turns everything off, plunging the house into darkness. For those of us with speech defects, comically useless. ; )"

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