Voice Interfaces like Alexa and Siri are a Revolution for the Visually Impaired

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

Alexa Is a Revelation for the Blind - The Atlantic

Maybe he doesn’t know how to interact with a machine pretending to be human—especially after he missed the evolution of personal computing because of his disability. Watching him try to use the Echo made me realize just how much technology forms the basis of contemporary life—and how thoroughly Dad had been sidelined from it.

This is quite the amazing piece by Ian Bogost about his father. So many of us talk about voice interfaces as a “nice to have” or a “distraction from visual interfaces,” but we often forget that accessibility means something different to everyone.

iOS has long been praised for it’s wonderful accessibility features, especially for the visual impaired. But even the Voice Over features of iOS don’t have anything on a voice first interaction for someone who can not see.

The ideal future is not about all voice or all visual interfaces, it’s about letting people do as many things by as many means possible. Those of us who are able to pick and choose what interactions work best at any given time are spoiled, and that’s easy to overlook.