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A listening keyboard for users with motor impairments—A usability study

Manaris Bill, Macgyvers Valanne, Lagoudakis Michael

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Year 2002
Type of Item Peer-Reviewed Journal Publication
Bibliographic Citation B. Manaris, V. Macgyvers and M. Lagoudakis, "A listening keyboard for users with motor impairments—A usability study," International Journal of Speech Technology, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 371-388, Nov. 2002. doi: 10.1023/A:1020917210165
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Computer users with motor impairments find it difficult and, in many cases, impossible to access PC functionality through the physical keyboard-and-mouse interface. Studies show that even able-bodied users experience similar difficulties when interacting with mobile devices; this is due to the reduced size/usability of the input interfaces. Advances in speech recognition have made it possible to design speech interfaces for alphanumeric data entry and indirect manipulation (cursor control). Although several related commercial applications exist, such systems do not provide a complete solution for arbitrary keyboard and mouse access, such as the access needed for, say, typing, compiling, and executing a C++ program.We carried out a usability study to support the development of a speech user interface for arbitrary keyboard access and mouse control. The study showed that speech interaction with an ideal listening keyboard is better for users with motor impairments than handstick, in terms of task completion time (37% better), typing rate (74% better), and error rates (63% better). We believe that these results apply to both permanent and task-induced motor impairments. In particular, a follow-up experiment showed that handstick approximates conventional modes of alphanumeric input available on mobile devices (e.g., PDAs, cellular phones, and personal organizers). These modes of input include miniaturized keyboards, stylus “soft” keyboards, cellular phone numberpads, and handwriting recognition software. This result suggests that a listening keyboard would be an effective mode for alphanumeric input on future mobile devices.This study contributed to the development of SUITEKeys—a speech user interface for arbitrary keyboard and mouse access available for MS platforms as freeware.