When a visual menu, such as in a computer, needs to be presented with sound, there is a question about how to best communicate an item that is unavailable. This question was explored in three studies that showed that using a whispered voice for unavailable items was favored over an attenuated voice, saying “unavailable,” or skipping such items. In general, participants preferred a female voice over a male voice. Results are discussed in terms of acoustic theory, cognitive menu selection theory, and user interface accessibility. The authors asserted that designers should go beyond a naïve translation from text into speech when creating auditory systems, thereby creating subjective satisfaction.
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