Gathering User Preferences

From Cognitive Accessibility Task Force

Technology holds the promise of being extremely flexible and the design of many systems includes the expectation that users will be able to optimise their interaction experience according to their personal preferences or accessibility requirements. Typical configurable features include adjustments such as colours, text and icon size, sounds or mouse double click speed. More comprehensive preferences include enabling different input methods such as speech recognition or Assistive Technology like screen readers. Other preferences such as language or regional conventions also effect the user's interactions.

Preference selection is nearly always implemented by providing a range of forms with controls for enabling or choosing options for each preferences. These forms can be complex in detail such audio configuration, or complex by fact of their sheer size. A specific preference can be hard to locate in control panels with many options even if both search and browsing are provided as with Windows control Panel.

Another issue is that changes to settings may not take immediate effect, or if they do, it may be difficult to roll back from a setting that was tried out of curiosity but is unsuitable for the user.

As a result people with cognitive disabilities can be become daunted, or worse, completely unable to select their desired preferences. Indeed depending on the indiviual and the technology being used it may be impossible with a supporter's assistance

So specific problems for people with cognitive disabilities include:

  • Too many settings and/or options for each
  • Not knowing what their preferences are in terms of the available technical solutions
  • Not being aware of possible solutions

In fact, many of these options effect a wide range of users, not just those with cognitive disabilities.

The GPII Cloud4All project includes research and development to provide tools to address many of these issues. Its is also involved in standardisation work including ISO/IEC 24751, Individualized adaptability and accessibility in e-learning, education and training

 #Is there any inoperable user settings that can be pulled across browsers and across clouds?
 #Are any in use in any well know browsers or clouds?
 #Do they enable things that we need such as;
  ##-  the symbols I use
  ##- the help system i prefer
  ##- Language preference including simplified with exceptions such as jargon I am familiar with
  ##- the number of features I prefer on the screen at the same time
  ##- the security systems I can use
  ##- Comprehension aids, such as synchronized text highlighting, breadcrumbs
  ##- Interface components I know how to use such as: a video play, link, menu, and dialog presentations
  ##- Can I cope with interruptions such as: live help messages, tooltips

Gathering and setting user preferences are difficult for COGA users. Therefore we must have portable user setting across the different clouds and applications. For example, if they are set for google docs, and the user is now on MS word, the google preferences can be easily imported.

What is needed for portable preferences.

  1. We need to identify (as coga) what function requirements people may prefer
  2. We need to have semantics for encoding preferences
  3. We need an API layer for accessing preferences across the cloud
  4. We need to be able to identify the user across the clouds (such as an email address or facebook) WITH room for errors and changes.

We may want some browser setting or operating system setting to allow the saving and interoperability of preferences. So that any time a user enters a preference on any application, and user success with an interface component is known, that setting can be added to their interoprable profile. This setting needs to be done with consent only for privacy reasons. Question: how well are the above supported in GPII and to what level of maturity?