Amazon has launched a new accessibility feature for Alexa devices, enabling users to customise how fast the personal assistant speaks.
Announced for the US market today, users will be able to say “Alexa, speak slower,” or “Alexa, speak faster” in order to meet their preference. It’s also possible to say “Alexa, speak at your default rate” to return the assistant to the standard pace of speech.
Amazon says the motivation behind the change is to assist hard of hearing and older Alexa users who often struggle to digest the assistant’s responses.
The company also says those with visual impairments often want Alexa to speak faster to allow them to digest the information more quickly. There are four faster rates and two slower rates to choose from, as well as the standard speech speed.
Amazon is posting case studies form test users explaining how the changes have improved their interactions with the assistant.
“There are many people, including myself, who are hard of hearing and the ability to slow Alexa down changes the way we use and understand her,” said 97-year-old customer ‘Jerry’ in a blog post from Amazon.
“Sometimes, I’d ask about the cast of a movie and she would go way too fast… even when I say “good morning” to her, she talks way too fast. When I ask questions where she has to list things, I would try to avoid those questions. I would consider this new feature of adjusting the speed a real bonus for me.”
The feature’s usefulness will also also extend to every day users who want to speed up Alexa’s speech, for convenience, when they’re getting ready for work in the morning, for example.
It’s usual for Amazon to launch features in the US first, so we’ll keep you posted when the feature rolls out in the United Kingdom.