I have just read an extremely interesting report by Mashael that looks into the issues around creating an Arabic speech recognition module for the ATbar and ATKit. The report has a very useful analysis about the tools available and some important considerations which we will cover in more detail in the future.
Mashael collected data from 41 Arabic speaking post-graduate, under-graduate and secondary school students. In brief the results showed that this group of users tended to browse for text (44%) and multimedia content (42%) with only 14% games or shopping and using social networks etc. Few seemed to know or use off line services (90%) and this was commented upon in the conclusion as being a useful way of working with the toolbar when off line and should be considered in a similar way to the Silverlight approach – saving useful dictation results or working with forms at a later date.
Speech recognition command and control was not felt to always be useful and the group surveyed did not specify a need due to a disability, in fact 80% said they were happy to use the mouse and keyboard for browser control. However, 35 of the users said they would use speech recognition for language learning, 20 selected translation, 16 school work, 15 web activities and 10 for work based reports. High accuracy rates were required (90%) with the use of diacritics, despite the fact that these can cause problems for those with visual impairment and for the elderly. 61% felt that it would be useful to save dictated data for re-use.
Other research that Seb found showed that only 1% of websites are available in Arabic and Mashael found that 44% of her participants wanted to be able to use both English and Arabic for data entry and over half (59%) wanted to have text to speech to read back content. They appeared to require accuracy over a large vocabulary in terms of speech dictation and its use on the web.
Although several users of the prototype ATbar shown by Mashael in the video below wanted extra features most were happy with the basic version and were content with the design and core functionality. Mashael highlighted the usefulness of the kit approach with the introduction of a Braille API and the need for a flexible approach to language support.