Voice Technology for People of All Abilities

Steve Adubato goes on-location to the VOICE Summit at NJIT to sit down with Cathy Pearl, Head of Conversation Design Outreach, Google and author, "Designing Voice User Interfaces," who talks about the ways voice technology has become more inclusive so that individuals with all abilities can use it.

10/26/19 #119






"Welcome to the Voice Summit. We're coming to you from the campus of NJIT in beautiful Brick City, Newark, New Jersey. This is the Voice Summit Number Two. This is the biggest Voice Summit in the world. No, I'm not exaggerating. It's not hyperbole. It's true. And one of the guests that's joining us to break a lot of what's going on here down is Cathy Pearl, Head of Conversation Design Outreach at a little company called Google. And author of the book Designing Voice User Interfaces. How you doing? I'm good. Glad to be here. Because? Because this is the world's biggest Voice Summit, and so much of it is about seeing people, maybe I've met online, or talking to people who are doing interesting things in the field, really getting that energy of how people are applying this technology to the future. Google cares because of? Well you know, our mission statement is about making the world's information accessible to everyone, and voice is one channel for making that happen. You know, we were talking right before we got on the air, on the whole question of people that have certain challenges, impairments, and you... at one point, you said that we all have impairments at some point. But the question of making voice technology more inclusive? Yeah. I mean, to me, voice, first of all, is really great for people who really need it the most, which could be people who have visual impairments, motor impairments, cognitive impairments, but I don't want us to think of that as like just designing for certain groups of people with certain things. It's really about inclusive design, which is about all of us. Because all of us have impairments, situational impairments, from time to time. Whether it's because I'm walking inside carrying groceries and I can't use my hands briefly, I don't have my reading glasses and I want to see the text message on my phone, or what if I fall and break my arm? Or have a stroke? This is really about designing for everyone. But how do you design for everyone? And are there those in the voice arena who don't design for everyone, and design for a, frankly, more niche market that they feel may be more profitable? Well, I mean it's certainly not simple to design for as many people as you possibly can that makes... If it were simple, everybody would do it? Right? Yeah. It takes more time, more planning, more testing, and you just have to, you know, really broaden your user base. But to me, it's just something to strive for it, because what could be better than enabling..."