Helping Persons with Cognitive Disabilities using Voice-Activated Personal Assistants

Title: Helping Persons with Cognitive Disabilities using Voice-Activated Personal Assistants
Authors: Lewis, Lundy
Vellino, Andre
Date: 2021
Abstract: The objective of this study was to determine whether Canadians with cognitive disabilities such as autism could benefit from voice-activated intelligent personal assistants to access digital services and increase their participation in the digital economy. We recruited 24 participants aged 18 to 64 with a cognitive disability to serve as advisors in this study. They were each given an Amazon Echo Dot free of charge to use in their home environments for a month and then interviewed to determine their likes, dislikes, intentions, and whatever new ideas they had for improving the Echo Dot applications. Video recordings of interviews with advisors and/or caregivers were collected for offline analysis. We found that the advisors were overwhelmingly positive about using the Dot for variety of information-retrieval tasks ranging from asking for weather reports to satisfying more serious information needs such as answering health-related questions and planning public transportation routes. Both Advisors and their caregivers found that alarms, reminders and Alexa “routines” were particularly helpful features. Alexa skills available in French are not as numerous or varied as those in English and bilingual advisors often interacted with Alexa in English more than in French.
CollectionInstitut de recherche sur la science, la société et la politique publique - Publications // Institute for Science, Society and Policy - Publications