An Empirical Evaluation of a Vocal User Interface for Programming by Voice

An Empirical Evaluation of a Vocal User Interface for Programming by Voice

Amber Wagner (University of Alabama, USA) and Jeff Gray (The University of Alabama, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1759-7.ch012


Although Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) often improve usability, individuals with physical disabilities may be unable to use a mouse and keyboard to navigate through a GUI-based application. In such situations, a Vocal User Interface (VUI) may be a viable alternative. Existing vocal tools (e.g., Vocal Joystick) can be integrated into software applications; however, integrating an assistive technology into a legacy application may require tedious and manual adaptation. Furthermore, the challenges are deeper for an application whose GUI changes dynamically (e.g., based on the context of the program) and evolves with each new application release. This paper provides a discussion of challenges observed while mapping a GUI to a VUI. The context of the authors' examples and evaluation are taken from Myna, which is the VUI that is mapped to the Scratch programming environment. Initial user studies on the effectiveness of Myna are also presented in the paper.
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GUIs typically require usage of the keyboard and mouse for input, which can be difficult for users with motor impairments. A suggested solution is to provide vocal input, which has proven to be successful in some cases (Begel, 2005; Dai et al., 2004; Désilets et al., 2006; Harada et al., 2009; Shaik et al., 2003). While many tools (e.g., Vocal Joystick) are advantageous and users find them beneficial (Harada et al., 2009), they may not be as helpful when manipulating objects within a GUI, such as in an IPE like Scratch (2015). Such programs require navigation in addition to manipulation of objects on the screen. Beyond providing a means for navigation, we believe that new accessibility tools should be created using ability-based design as described by Wobbrock et al. (2011), which is explained further in the rest of this section.

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