Device Specificity Is Lacking In Our Specs

As we continue development of Web 2.0 functionality, there's at least
one key requirement I believe we've left unaddressed. I do not see that
we've provided for the very real possibility that our user devices might
have more than one audio device. And, which audio device should be used
for particular kinds of content is likely to matter a great deal to the

While I do think this requirement is generalizable to all input/output
modalities, I want to outline a couple use cases specifically for audio
device differentiation.  I must also point out that it's not just our
web specs that don't seem to support directing audio to one particular
out of several available devices. OS specificity in this regard is also
less than adequate, in my experience. Of course, for device specificity
in web specs to succeed, OS support would also need hardening.

1.)	Vo/IP

Users of Skype, SIP and IAX services are very likely to use a headset
device. This will often be a second audio device on the host system,
and not just another input/output option to the default audio device on
that system (especially when that user relies on a screen reader).

2.)	High End Media Access

Professional musicians and consumers invested in high quality audio (and
multimedia) experiences will often add higher quality audio devices to
their systems with the intention that certain media types be directed to
those devices.

	*	The parent setting up a movie for the family to watch
	*	will probably not want the screen reader mixed into the
	*	movie's audio output. Indeed, some might wish audio
	*	description routed to only certain devices, and not
	*	others.

	*	The musician studying (or creating) a particular
	*	composition will certainly not want screen reading (or
	*	system sonicons) mixed in that composition.

There are other examples, but I expect these will serve to illustrate my
point. We need the ability to direct certain media types to particular
devices. When these exist on user systems, they exist for a reason, and
those reasons must be honored for applications to succeed.


Janina Sajka,	Phone:	+1.202.595.7777;
Partner, Capital Accessibility LLC	http://CapitalAccessibility.Com

Marketing the Owasys 22C talking screenless cell phone in the U.S. and Canada
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Chair, Open Accessibility	
Linux Foundation

Received on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 18:14:33 UTC