Friday, August 26, 2016

Dragon Naturally Speaking Accessibility Lapse

The Theme of RantWoman's day: Seemingly small matters that wind up being a giant pain in the neck for a small but crucial segment of one's customer base.

The first object of RantWoman's thematic focus Dragon Naturally Speaking version 13 and higher.

Some exuberant reviews

The problems:
Dragon and its parent company Nuance advertise Dragon as an accessibility tool BUT a change starting with version 13 makes the product completely inaccessible to one category of users and dangerous for other users who rely on multiple accessibility tools.

The change: The newest versions of Dragon turn off the microphone before the program goes completely through its shutdown routine. That means if one WANTS to review the check boxes about whether or not to save one's speech file and one is working hands-free, because of an injury, because one's hands to not work or one does not have hands or all the reasons people need to work hands free. once the microphone is off one no longer has control of the software.

RantWoman does not even want to speculate about whether this change is some thoughtless coding oversight or the result of testing only with users who do not rely on the product for accessibility. Frankly, why is a metaphysical question and RantWoman would just like the developers to rid the software of this accessibility lapse as quickly as possible.

The STAR Center  resident Dragon expert has spent hours on the phone with tech support. He reports that the helpdesk had to be induced to try the situation on their own computers. He also reports that so far he has heard NO offers to revisit the problem to fix this accessibility barrier say in an interim update.

So RantWoman will be adding her voice to objections AND seeing whether others who rely on Dragon for accessibility can also be encouraged to weigh in.

RantWoman's situation would be as follows.

RantWoman actually has considered Dragon. RantWoman, partly for lousy childhood emotional reasons is a lousy typist. RantWoman loves the idea of high-end users being able to feed Dragon a corpus of their writings so that Dragon can more easily match words regularly used with the voice training algorithms. RantWoman thinks this COULD be a giant boon to her own productivity.

RantWoman can actually use Dragon without the expensive and technically clunky add-in that keep Dragon and screen readers from frying each others' circuits. But this means relying on RantWoman's wonky eyeballs. News flash: rantWoman uses screen reading software BECAUSE her wonky eyeballs are not reliable. RantWoman would have visions of trying to shut down Dragon, not seeing whatever final exit checkboxes come up, leaving Dragon on, turning on her screen reader, and quickly making Dragon, the screen reader, and her computer completely unusable! That is the accessibility problem as hazard to some users issue!

In any case, RantWoman has not persuaded herself that the productivity enhancement would justify the cost and training time required for this software. There is a chicken and egg aspect of this problem: If RantWoman could get more done with less typing, she probably would be more productive in a work environment. However, RantWoman in self-employment mode feels too financially shaky to take on the technological risk.

Nor unfortunately does this accessibility lapse increase the odds that Rantwoman will offer unqualified positive buzz when talking to others about accessibility options. When do people really need Dragon? When will competition from Siri....?
Grrrr. Not like RantWoman has nothing else to do with her day besides document accessibility issues!

Now, though RantWoman will see whether her social media streams and limited capacity to do social media analytics will help her find others vexed by this accessibility lapse!

Stay tuned.

#a11y  #DNS  #accessibility #inclusion #employment

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