Monday, June 02, 2008

My Job

I guess I have not written that much about what I do for work. Well I'm the new guy so I get to work on the projects that no one else wants. I built a database for HR and worked for quite a while trying to add speech recognition to a program with an under-powered engine.
The department I work in tries to create software for people with disabilities. I know, I've got one of those jobs where I can say "Well at least I'm making a difference." Then laugh under my breath because of the bureaucracy. Since the biggest demand is to help companies this translates into helping older workers work longer. While this may sound like a terrible thing to be part of but when I do any testing of the software with older adults they are thrilled to have it so I guess its more along the lines of helping people to be more productive as they get older.
Since my area is Human-Computer Interaction I am the one in charge of re-designing the user interface. When I started working there I basically declared it needed to be done and assigned myself to it. I guess its a good thing my boss agreed with me.
It is an add-on for Firefox to make text bigger, more contrast, speak to you, steady mouse movements, add sound to the buttons, space out words, and a bunch of other things. Since it has to be so customizable the user interface is pretty complex so it makes it interesting to work on but also takes a long time. The bureaucracy steps in when they want to expand it to as many groups as possible. Dyslexic kids, low vision adults, those with cognitive problems, and a group with motor problems like MS to name a few. They all have little things they want and need and sometimes they conflict (It is impossible to have "Universal Accessibility") so making it easy for all the groups to use it and understand everything gets exponentially harder as they add each group. Everyone is all smiles and has a list of things they want to add when I have done user testing so I guess I am doing something right though.

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