|For software makers who want their applications to
take full advantage of speech control
Utter Command makes every element of every program accessible by speech,
usually faster than the keyboard and mouse.
Not all programs are created equal, however. Programs that follow good
usability and user interface design principles are generally easier to
use by speech. Some interface design flaws -- like focus -- are more obvious
when you're using speech. Making software work well for speech makes it
better for everyone. There are some basics below.
Redstart Systems also provides consulting services for software
makers who want to make their programs easier to use and faster for speech
and non-speech users. For more information contact us at info@ this website
1. Make program functions
accessible by keystroke
2. Use standard keyboard shortcuts
3. Make lists accessible by
4. Keep names of program functions
on menus, shortcuts and dialog boxes consistent, succinct and pronounceable
1. Make program functions accessible by keystroke
This includes every function. Every menu item should be accessible
by alternate keyboard shortcuts that appear as underlined letters for
every menu in a program -- including menus accessed by a right mouse click.
Every function that appears in any circumstance should be accessible.
This also includes functions only available through toolbar buttons and
other graphical elements, including user-defined elements.
One good example of an accessible user-defined graphical element
is Eudora's folders. Even though the folder names can be variable they
are accessible via keystroke because there is a top-level menu that lists
them, and you can get to any item on the list by starting to spell it.
2. Use standard keyboard shortcuts when possible
Here are some examples: Open File - Ctrl+o
Save - Ctrl+s
Save As - Alt+f, a
Copy All - Ctrl+a
Print - Ctrl+p
Find - Ctrl+f
Replace - Ctrl+r
Rename - F2
Undo - Ctrl+z
Redo - Shift+Ctrl+z
Access to recently-opened documents - Alt+f, 1-9
3. Make lists accessible by keystroke
Typing or saying "ab", for instance, should highlight the first
item on a list that begins with "ab".
4. Keep names of program functions on menus, shortcuts and
dialog boxes consistent, succinct and pronounceable
One of the keys to a successful speech interface is making sure
users know what to say. There's nothing much more frustrating than knowing
what you want to do but not how to do it. One key to making sure users
know what to say is making sure the words they constantly see on the screen
are consistent, succinct and pronounceable.
Consistent, succinct wording
Much of the time you don't need anything but an object. Words
like "Show", "View", and "Open" are usually unnecessary.
The words "View", "New" and "Individual", and "Improve My" are
redundant in the following examples from the NaturallySpeaking 5.0 menu:
View Recognition History
Add New Command
Add Individual Word
Improve My Accuracy
Inconsistencies within programs
Menus, dialog box names, and shortcut buttons are your opportunity
to organize the interface for the user. The more consistent, logical and
organized the structure, the easier it will be for the user to remember
Users unconsciously learn every time they see these elements.
Make it easy for them. Having multiple names for functions slows down
the learning process dramatically. Even if one of the labels is longer,
it is important that at least the first word of the same function is the
same on all menus, shortcuts and dialog boxes.
Here are some examples of inconsistencies in today's programs:
Eudora: Sorting email through the menus is Edit/Sort/Sender,
with an underlined e as the keyboard shortcut at this point, but the shortcut
button is Who, with an underlined o as the keyboard shortcut
NaturallySpeaking 5.0: Tools/Add New Command in the menus
is MyCommands Editor in the dialog box
Words/Train in the menus is Training in the dialog box
Words/View Recognition History in the menus is Recognition History
in the dialog box
Words/New in the menus is Add Individual Word in the dialog
Words/View-Edit in the menus is Vocabulary Editor in the
Help/Improve My Accuracy in the menus is Accuracy Assistant
in the dialog box
Help/Performance Assistant in the menus is Dragon NaturallySpeaking
Help in the dialog box
Keep in mind that acronyms pronounced as letters have one syllable per
letter, and so can get relatively long to pronounce even though they're
succinctly written. Words without a space between them are also not well-recognized
by speech engines unless they are very common.
This top-level menu entry from a speech utility combines the worst
of both worlds: