AVoS user study
It is essential to include the users's wants and needs in the development process of AVoS. We have conducted a user survey amongst visually impaired adults to enquire about their habits concerning the study of vocabulary. The survey took place in January 2011. The results are summarised in the following paper: Verena Stein, Robert Neßelrath Jan Alexandersson, and Johannes Tröger. Designing with and for the Visually Impaired: Vocabulary, Spelling and the Screen Reader, February 2011.
Please continue for a short summary of the results.
Who took part in the AVoS user study?
The survey could be accessed online and was send out via several mailing lists for visually impaired people in Germany. 77 persons completed the online survey. The youngest participant was 10 years and the oldest was 74 year old. The mean age was 38.4 years old. The majority of test subjects had achieved a university degree (29.5 %) or completed high school (16.7 %). Also, most participants specified their braille literacy as "very good" (67.9 %).
What are typical vocabulary study and computer usage habits among visually impaired language learners?
- Learners with visual impairments struggle significantly more with acquiring spelling in a foreign language than with acquiring word definitions.
- Participants form the survey indicated that they generally find spelling mistakes in a text on a computer screen from the misprounciation of the text-to-speech synthesis rather than finding it with the braille display.
- There is a statistically significant correlation between how well visually impaired people know the braille script and how much they like to engage in foreign language study.
Which features are desirable in an auditory vocabulary and spelling trainer among adult learners?
68 test subjects answered this question and mentioned the following features as making a vocabulary trainer usable for them.
- pronounciation help 48.5%
- orthographic feedback 30.9%
- screen-reader friendly 25%
- context of the vocabulary item 20.6%
- flash card method 23.5%
- simplicity of the program 19.1%
- braille line access 17.6%
- some test participants noted grammar help, display of progress, online dictionary, free of charge, and rich contrast for the display.
How can the findings from the user survey be implemented into the AVoS prototype?
- Pronounciation help: Provide formant text-to-speech synthesis in the according language to allow a more natural pronounciation.
- Intermediate pronounciation: Include a function to listen to the word 'so far'. Visually impaired people can easily pick out spelling errors from the misprounounciation of their screen reader. This feature could help them to verify their input easily before submitting their answer.
- Braille line access: Usability for screen reader and braille display. While the screen reader is often prefered, good accessibility via braille line is also needed.
- Context: Present vocabulary in the context of a sample sentence. This could be achieved via external links to online dictionaries.