RE: Apologies for next meeting + Naur Scope and Format

Thank you, John, for your thoughtful comments and contributions, which are guaranteed to stimulate discussion at the meeting even in your absence this week.

From: John Paton <>
Sent: Friday, 19 March 2021 8:55
To: White, Jason J <>; Joshue O'Connor <>
Subject: Apologies for next meeting + Naur Scope and Format

Dear all,

I’m on holiday next week so I’ll send my apologies in advance.

In terms of the Naur Scope and format can we change the wording of Req 3 and 4 to
“Support multiple input devices and methods either within the natural language interface/s or via alternatives.” And
“Support multiple output devices and methods either within the natural language interface/s or via alternatives.”

The document needs to be usable for a designer of smart speakers and without the clarification it sounds like the speaker itself needs to support visual/keyboard access rather than the service the speaker provides access to. If you take Echo as the example then enabling users to type natural language queries into the Alexa app satisfies the accessibility requirements and is likely to be more acceptable to users than having to have an external keyboard plugged into the Echo (some of which don’t have screens).

If the document is then divided into modality for inputs and modality for outputs then it may help. Ie.

User need
User has sight loss and so cannot use visual output
NLI (Natural Language Interface) Speech output or
NLI Braille output or
Alternative communication method (outside scope)

User need
User cannot see controls to use them [needs better wording]
NLI Speech input or
Alternative input method (outside scope)

User need
Hearing impairment user prefers to read
NLI Text output or
Alternative communication method (outside scope)

User need
Hearing impairment user prefers captioned speech
NLI Captioned speech output or
Alternative communication method (outside scope)


User need
Deaf sign language user cannot speak to device
NLI Sign language input (preferred) or
NLI Text input  or
Alternative communication method (outside scope)


Otherwise almost any combination of X input + y output above is conceivable and you can get in a tangle trying to enumerate them all. By labelling the alternative communication methods as being out of scope we can contain the scope of this document (and maybe usefully signpost to where users should be looking). This means that if a natural language interface is being used for the speech but not the visual interface (such as in a Smart TV) it doesn’t feel like we are trying to force a natural language interface for the visual I/O if one doesn’t make sense. Smart televisions could currently implement a typed command structure similar to Alexa and I suspect that the reason this doesn’t happen is because it doesn’t make sense in the context rather than a lack of a11y awareness (and I can’t see that television accessibility for people with hearing loss has suffered).

It also frees us up to talk about user needs for sign language natural language interfaces despite the fact we are likely a long way from seeing any usable ones. If we have text NLI and “Alternative communication method” as an option then we can alert the reader that a sign language option is preferable while still allowing a text or alternative option until technology catches up. We can then cover alternative word orders and simplified written language structures for signers in the text input section.

We can then handle the user needs for each modality in their own section.

Speech input
User needs include: accents, dialects, speech impediments, etc
Speech output
User needs include: repeat function, etc
Text input
User needs include: textspeak + emojis, spelling, Dyslexia and print disabilities, Signer being forced to use text etc
Text output
User needs include: large fonts, etc
Captioned speech output
User needs include: synchronisation (signpost to media synchronisation?),etc
Braille Output
User needs include: contracted vs uncontracted Braille, support for different sets of contractions (UEB, SEB) etc
Sign language input
User needs include: fingerspelling (if sign not recognised), dialect selection, etc
Sign Language output
User needs include: fingerspelling (if sign not recognised), Large/small signer (for deafblind signers with tunnel vision), dialect selection, etc
Symbol sets and diagrammatical communication
Features related to memory
Simple interfaces structures and commands

This started off simple and got more complicated as I wrote it but I think it handles the issues of 1, clear scope, 2, pan accessibility, 3, advising on user needs without dictating design. It should also still be humanly readable without a separate map.

Best regards,


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Received on Friday, 19 March 2021 13:29:46 UTC