[GlobalPreferences] Consulting with users

Shari Trewin trewin at us.ibm.com
Thu Jun 13 13:03:02 EDT 2013

I visited United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) last week, and spoke with three
clients.  I had hoped to meet with more people, but the weather prevented
me from staying longer!

These were all people I know quite well.  I asked the suggested questions
about their needs and preferences. Here is some feedback that I hope will
be useful.

One owns a desktop PC and an iPad.  He hardly uses the PC since he got the
iPad as it is easier to use.  The second owns a desktop PC and an iPad
Mini.  She also uses computers in the library.  The third has a (fairly
new) laptop.  All of them have access to computers at UCP and occasionally
use them. These computers are 10 years old.

1.  These potential users do not differentiate between accessibility
features and other computer features. When I asked what would make
computers, smartphones or tablets easier for them to use, the things they
brought up were mostly not related to accessibility, but to everyday
challenges and frustrations with using technology.  For example, one person
wanted "more gigabytes for less money", and another suggested that "more
ports" would make his computer more useful.

2. The only things that people felt were stopping them from using their
technology were: 1) that the desktop PC is limited to one location and
takes up a lot of room, and 2) that the iPad cannot play Flash-based games.
Again, the broader technical and physical context is what comes to mind for
these users.

3. They found it difficult to answer the question about what settings they
had changed, and also the one about settings they could imagine that would
make their experience better.  They just don't think in these terms.  One
person said "when I need the question mark I press Shift five times".  She
knew that this was called 'Sticky Keys' (because I had told her about it
years ago), but she did not know how to turn it on and off. Another person
was able to list some features he liked to use. In general, they had been
given help in setting up their devices, and once this was done, they used
the devices as they were.

4. The features they did mention (in their own words) were:

	electronic speech
	when you start a word it gives you a list of words (referring to word
	when a word is wrong it tells you by a red line (referring to
spelling checker)
	spell check
	larger and smaller print
	large text
	black and white like print on paper
	big pointer
	beeps ... the sounds (referring to an audible click when a key is
	sticky keys (2 people)
	voice recognition
	bigger screens
	the keys bigger (on an on-screen keyboard)
	touch screens
	the speed of the mouse
	make it slower (referring to response time allowed by a program)

5. I know from past experience that if presented with a set of font size
options, or if given a demonstration of a feature, these individuals would
have no trouble understanding it and making a decision, although their
initial decision may not be optimal.  If the preference editor provides
examples and demonstrations, and allows people to try options before making
a decision, it would be usable by all of these people.  Abstract questions
would be difficult for them to respond to.  No matter how carefully we
choose the vocabulary, some of it will be unfamiliar.

All of them have used accessibilityWorks (browser-based page transformation
and physical access preferences) when it was available, and found the
preferences there very helpful in improving their web access.  Some of the
preferences I have seen these individuals use are: large fonts, speak text,
line spacing, page linearization, large cursor, key beeps, Sticky Keys,
steady clicks, and a long key repeat delay.  It has been a while since they
used accessibilityWorks, as it is not currently available for them.

I think these people would be fantastic testers for any prototype or
design.  One does not read easily, and one is legally blind but can work
with speech output or very large text.  None are technical, and all of them
have preferences that are very important for their level of access, but are
not easily able to articulate them when asked an abstract question.

Shari Trewin
Usability and Accessibility Research
IBM T.J. Watson Research Center
P.O. Box 218, Yorktown, NY  10598

             Dana Ayotte                                                   
             <dana.ayotte at gmai                                             
             l.com>                                                     To 
                                       Shari Trewin/Watson/IBM at IBMUS       
             06/06/2013 04:34                                           cc 
             PM                        globalpreferences at fluidproject.org  
                                       Re: [GlobalPreferences] Consulting  
                                       with users                          

Hi Shari,

We discussed this at today's meeting and we felt that it is a bit too soon
to present our interface designs, but we did come up with some questions
that we thought might be useful to ask.  These are listed below.  We are
hoping to provide some context and get people thinking about settings and
preferences in general before asking a specific question about language. We
also hope that some of the language will become apparent in answering all
of the questions.
      What would you change about computers, tablets or smartphones that
      would make them easier for you to use?
      What stops you from using a computer, tablet or smartphone?
      Have you ever changed your system settings or application settings on
      your computer, tablet or smartphone?
            What settings or preferences did you change and was this
      If you have never changed your settings, can you imagine any settings
      that might make your experience better? (for example, using a screen
      reader, increasing the size of images and text, not having to use a
      mouse, access to a dictionary, word prediction while typing, voice
      commands, etc)
      Can you describe a positive experience that you've had using an
      application or a website?  What was it about the application or
      website that made it fun and easy to use?
      If you were going to do a search (like a Google search) for settings
      or preferences that you think might help you, what search words would
      you enter?

On 2013-06-05, at 4:17 PM, Shari Trewin wrote:

      Hi folks,

      As I mentioned in last week's design meeting, I'll be meeting with
      clients and staff at a Cerebral Palsy Center on Friday this week, to
      gather input on the language they use for talking about their needs
      and preferences for computer access.

      If you have specific questions you'd like me to ask, please let me
      know.  I will meet with people with a range of physical, sensory and
      cognitive impairments (the center serves people with many different
      developmental disabilities, not just cerebral palsy).

      Are there user interface designs that you'd like me to show them?

      Apologies - I won't be able to make tomorrow's design meeting.

      Best regards,

      Shari Trewin
      Usability and Accessibility Research
      IBM T.J. Watson Research Center
      P.O. Box 218, Yorktown, NY  10598

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