PsychNology Journal, Volume 1, Number 3, 229 – 241

The Vista Project: Broadening Access To Digital TV Electronic Programme Guides

A. Carmichael
University of Dundee

H. Petrie, F. Hamilton
City University

J. Freeman
Goldsmiths College (University of London)



VISTA is a multidisciplinary/cross-sectoral project aimed at developing a ‘virtual assistant’ embodying a speech based interface between digital television viewers and the content and functions of an electronic programme guide (EPG). While it is anticipated that the resulting interface will make EPG access easier for all, the main target groups are visually impaired (VI) and older viewers who experience disproportionate difficulty using currently popular GUI style EPGs. Despite their great potential for improved usability, speech interfaces are unlikely to prove the ‘universal panacea’ some anticipate. Rather they raise a host of new human factors issues. For example, current technology disallows a truly ‘conversational’ interface, thus a structured dialogue is required which raises issues about keeping users ‘on-script’ (e.g. prompts and other additional support) and providing efficient routes to the information users require. Many of the VI population are elderly and thus also have hearing problems which emphasizes the intelligibility of the synthetic speech output. Qualitative results are presented from iterative evaluations involving (non-VI) elderly users and a wide age range of VI users of a PC based prototype designed to be compatible with digital broadcast technology.



digital television, electronic programme guide, virtual assistant..



Carmichael A., Petrie H., Hamilton F., Freeman J. (2003). The Vista Project: Broadening Access To Digital TV Electronic Programme Guides. PsychNology Journal, 1(3), 229 – 241. Retrieved [month] [day], [year], from

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