PCPs, PMTs, etc

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User Activities for adjusting preferences

In the service of creating tools for users to explore, declare and manage preferences, the design team has articulated the following user activities that must be supported. These are the things the user will do, activities the user will perform. Though there will be great diversity and uniqueness in each individual experience, this list identifies the possible activities users will perform in preference editing:

  • First-Create  -  Creating the essential first set of needs & preferences for people who do not yet have any access.
  • Capture - Saving the current settings of a device as a preference set. (As the default set, or a set just for this context)
    • Capture can also be used as a quick ‘first-create’ for users who already are using AT or access features.
  • Explore -  Exploring new settings to see if a user want to add them to their preference set(s)
  • Adjust  - Changing a single or a few preferences  
  • Manage – Viewing and editing preference sets as sets. Can include managing any and all aspects of their preferences – providing complete control over preferences and use.  Can also include simplified viewers/editors.

These activity spaces don’t represent a linear progression through a chain of activities, but rather are different options that a person may use to initially create – or to change their preferences.   For example, new users will start with First-Create while existing AT users would start with Capture.

There may be single function tools that enable the user to perform just one of these activities (for simplicity) while other tools may allow the user to do all of the activities from a single tool (for advanced users).

Separating the activities from the Tools, and having different types of tools for different users reflects the importance of preference editing being user-centric, user powered, and user-driven. These activity spaces ensure that the design thinking keeps the user central and creates tools that will meet them where they are and empower them to interact with new tools regardless of their expertise, abilities, or any other factor that makes them unique.   It also emphasizes that there are no RIGHT tools and WRONG tools, just different forms of tools for different users.

Below are a number of different types of tools for creating, capturing, exploring, adjusting, or managing preferences.  Some tools focus on one activity while others may support several of these activities.

Settings vs Preferences

First, in understanding the Tools (especially the PCP) it is important to distinguish between SETTINGS and PREFERENCES.

  • By settings we are referring to the current state of the settings on a device or software package. For example, the current volume, speech-rate, status of captions (on or off) etc.
  • By preferences we mean the stored preference that a user has for some setting. For example, they may prefer that the captions be on whenever available, or they may prefer that captions be turned on whenever the volume in the room is above a certain level. These are preferences – or desires that are stored somewhere. When the preferences are applied to a device or software, they change the settings of the device or software to what the person prefers.

If we design this correctly however, users will not need to make this distinction. They can think of them all as settings that are saved and applied the way they prefer and when they prefer.

Collaborative Development of Interoperable and Compatible Tools

There are a number of projects (Cloud4All, Prosperity4All FLOE, Preferences for Global Access, and other projects) working together collaboratively to develop a set of preference tools (editors, exploration tools, and first discovery tools), including different versions of each tool. The tools are all built on top of a common architecture that is designed to support building personalized, customized, contextualized, and adaptable user interfaces to meet the needs of individuals in preference first-creation, capture, exploration, adjusting, and managing. The Tools all use common technologies to facilitate re-use of code across the tools, to enhance interoperability, and to facilitate long-term support of the tools.

PCPs and PTs/PMTs (Personal Control Panels and Preference Tools)

There are two major types of tools being developed: PCPs and PTs.

  • PCPs are PERSONAL (that is -- each person determines what is in their Personal Panel) PANELS (visual or auditory) that contain CONTROLS. PCPs primarily allow users to control the SETTINGS in their devices/software. Hence most of the controls in a PCP are for changing the settings on the device. However, PCPs may also have controls that allow users to save their settings as preferences or to launch preference management tools. As a result, PCPs also have a role in preference management.
  • PTs (Preference Tools) are TOOLS to help a user expand, change or manage their PREFERENCES. There are many different types of Preference Tools. Some for capturing, some for exploring, some for managing.
    • PTs are often just referred to collectively as PMTs though we suggest that ‘PMT’ be reserved for Tools that allow management as discussed below.

Within these two general categories of tools there are many different types of tools. There are also different versions of the tools that are being developed for different types of users (e.g. young, old, visual, non-visual, advanced, beginner, those who handle complexity and those who do not, etc.) Individuals' uniquenesses, context diversity, and content variability present staggering complexity for design -- complexity that can not be solved with one tool. So a diversity of tools are being designed and developed to meet users wherever they are (with respect to abilities, technical literacy, age, etc.) in a convenient, unobtrusive, and understandable way.



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A. PCPs (personal control panels, quick change that is applied immediately)

Personal Control Panels (PCPs) provide users with an easy means to directly adjust the device’s/software’s settings on the fly. When users create their preference set, one option they will have will be to have a personal control panel for quick adjustments to the access settings on their device(s). This tool would always be present on a device. A PCP allows the user to quickly choose "for the moment" settings they may need from a short list of features they feel the need to have quick and constant access to. (This list of settings can be chosen by the user from her preference set, or pre-populated with settings the user might find useful). PCPs can also give users the option of saving settings for later use on that device or on other devices. That is, they can have preference saving capability – or they can launch a preference tool to do this.

  • PCPs -- are PANELS (visual or auditory) that contain CONTROLS where the Panels are PERSONAL (that is -- each person determines what is in her Personal Panel).
  • PCPs key role is to allow user to control the settings of the device they are currently using (e.g. turn captions on/off right now -- or change speed of screen reader right now).
  • PCPs are (usually) applications local to a device that allow instant control, not impacted by network delays or connectivity.
  • the PCPs for a single person can be different in different contexts (device, applications, etc.)
  • PCPs can launch PMTs ( e.g. capture, adjust, explore, or manage tools)
  • A PCP could also have an embedded PMT (at this point the PCP blurs with a mini-PMT) though it would usually launch one since PCP usually need to implemented as native application or OS extension and PMTs are usually web based (for multiple reasons)

PCPs are launched (and configured) in the same way as any other AT or access feature. That is, it is created and configured by the GPII launchHandler and settingsHandler on the device based on user preference (default preferences for the PCP or preferences for PCP based the current context).

B. PMTs (preference management tools)

PMTs are preference editors that allow users to create and manage sets of preferences and to manage account settings such as log-in permissions etc. (which are themselves all preferences).

  • PMTs -- are tools that manage preferences, preference sets, and account settings (preferences)
  • PMTs can be full-featured tools that reveal all the complexity of preference management, or they can be much simpler, limited tools that still allow for some management of preference sets. PMTs can have many forms. Mini-PMTs are an example of simpler PMTs.

C. First Discovery Tools (First-Create) (get in the door)

The First Discovery tools are the 'get in the door' tools used to give a user their initial preferences if they do not currently have access to ICT. The primary goal of a First Discovery tool is to discover what the user needs in order to perceive, operate, and understand devices or materials at all. It determines what the individual absolutely needs in order to put the demands of the interface on ICT within the user’s abilities. Once the basic needs of a user are established – they can move on to using other preference tools (explore, adjust, manage) that are appropriate for them.

D. Capture tools

Capture is not usually a tool in itself but a function that can be invoked from another tool to capture the current settings and save them.as a preference set. These can be saved as the user’s Default set, or more often they will be saved as a preference set for a particular context (e.g. when using this program, or when in this location, or “as my ‘Tired’ set”, etc.) One place where a Capture Tool may be used is in creating an initial set of preferences for someone who already has access settings but is new to GPII and does not yet have a Preference Set or Account. A simple Capture Tool that can grab their current settings and help them set up an account could be the most effective way for them to get started.

E. Explore Tools (explore within content, not a standalone application, engaging)

Explore Tools allow users to easily view, adjust, and explore new preferences in a simple and safe way. In an explore tool, the user interacts with actual (sample or real) content and as such can see the effect of each change immediately in context. The tools are unobtrusive yet inviting, gently introducing users to the notion of preferences without assuming technical literacy. The explore tools can play many roles for users of all experience levels

  • The explore tools can be a point of entry for preference management, a first encounter with preference editing tools.
  • They would be the logical next step after the getting-in-the-door First Discovery interaction or a first Capture..
  • They can be a place for experimentation for even the most advanced user.

Explore Tools are powerful ways for users to work with their preferences because they can provide simple, low-risk interactions with immediate feedback.

F. Adjust Tools

Adjust is an activity that usually occurs within other tools rather than being its own tool. However, it is possible that some simple adjust tools (that adjust only one or a few settings) may be created for some users who cannot use any of the PMTs due to complexity. It is also possible that a simple web based “adjust tool” might be created so that it can be launched from a Personal Control Panel (PCP) to give a user an ability to have control over just a single or a few preferences.

How will someone find these tools?

Users are not expected to make sense of all of these tools or know their names and functions. Tools will be introduced to the users as they need them:

  • When they first start out, they will be introduced to the creation tools
    • For those who don’t have any access already – a First-Create tool.
    • For those who already have access a tool with a Capture function can be used to create a first preference set.
    • When users create their first preference set, one preference may be for the creation of a Personal Control Panel (PCP where that is helpful for them and desired).
  • Many users will move directly from CREATE to an EXPLORE tool to discover further options for them. But some users may need to become accustomed to using the first set before they go further, especially people who have never used a computer before.
  • PMT’s would come later for more advanced users who want to go beyond explore tools. Very advanced users however could go from creation of their first set directly into a PMT.

A challenge for the GPII effort will be creating the ecosystem and support system for introducing and supporting these tools as they are needed by users.


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