Re: Sound events and GnomeMeeting

On Mon, 2003-11-17 at 13:20, Jeff Waugh wrote:

> Why? I'm surprised you've raised this as an a11y issue. I've asked a number
> of blind friends if they use aural feedback - beyond speech synthesis, they
> expressed, um... pent up frustration at the idea blind users wanted their
> computers making noises at them.

This is interesting... perhaps this is because they're not currently
able to get the right *sort* of noises out of their computer, though?

I ask only because one of the major Windows screenreaders is about to
launch with a new feature that allows different types of object to emit
different sounds in addition to speech (for example, an email with an
attachment might make a distinct 'beep' when focused, in addition to
having its author and subject read out), and from what I've read, its
users seem to like it a lot.  Humans are good at discerning different
sounds even when they're all played together, so by layering different
types of 'beep' on top of each other (e.g. 'attachment', 'high
priority', 'sent today') you can potentially convey a lot of information
to a blind user more efficiently than by reading it all out.  Throw
stereo positioning into the mix and you open up all sorts of
possibilities :)

Then there's the more general area of 'earcons'[1], which aren't just
useful for blind users... e.g. using different pitches of sound to
indicate file sizes, number of files in a directory etc... maybe GNOME
could innovate a bit here rather than just doing the boring old
"event=sound" stuff :)


[1] et al.
CALUM BENSON, Usability Engineer       Sun Microsystems Ireland
mailto:calum benson sun com            GNOME Desktop Group                      +353 1 819 9771

Any opinions are personal and not necessarily those of Sun Microsystems

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