EXPLORING THE ACCESSIBILITY OF HOME-BASED, VOICE-CONTROLLED INTELLIGENT PERSONAL ASSISTANTS
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From an accessibility perspective, home-based, voice-controlled intelligent personal assistants (IPAs) have the potential to greatly expand speech interaction beyond dictation and screenreader output. This research examines the accessibility of off-the-shelf IPAs (e.g., Amazon Echo) by conducting two exploratory studies. To explore the use of IPAs by people with disabilities, we analyzed 346 Amazon Echo reviews mentioning users with disabilities, followed by interviews with 16 visually impaired IPA users. Although some accessibility challenges exist, individuals with a range of disabilities are using IPAs, including unexpected uses such as speech therapy and memory aids. The second study involved a three-week deployment of Echo Dot, a popular IPA, with five older adults who use technology infrequently. Findings indicate preferences for using IPAs over traditional computing devices. We identify design implications to improve IPAs for this population. Both studies highlight issues of discoverability and the need for feature-rich voice-based applications. The findings of this research can inform future work on accessible voice-based IPAs.