Beginning today, customers in the UK can ask Alexa to speak slower or speak faster, enabling Alexa to adapt to a diverse set of customer needs. Whether customers ask Alexa for the weather, the latest news, a sports update, about an upcoming event on their calendar, for a definition, and more, they can now choose from seven speeds – Alexa's standard speaking rate, four faster speaking rates, and two slower speaking rates. Simply say "Alexa, speak slower," or "Alexa, speak faster" to adjust Alexa's speech to the preferred pace on any Alexa-enabled device. To reset Alexa's speaking rate, simply say, "Alexa, speak at your default rate."
This is great news from Amazon. We all have our own preferences when it comes to how we take information in so this is a really positive step towards better accessibility and inclusivity.
David Clarke, Director of Services, RNIB said: “Many blind and partially sighted people have told us they’d like the option of increasing the speech speed so we expect this development will be warmly welcomed. We are really pleased to continue to support Amazon in their efforts to create a device which is truly accessible for everyone.”
We care deeply about customer feedback and consider it an essential part of the development process. We always aim to design and build products that are useful and engaging for customers, and we work to incorporate their feedback as we continue to evolve our experiences.
"We heard from customers that they would like the ability to change Alexa's speaking rate for a variety of reasons. Some of our hard of hearing and older customers shared how they love talking to Alexa and how she has become a companion but sometimes they would like her to slow down so they can better understand her responses. On the other hand, some of our customers who are blind or low vision are used to consuming audio content and want to be able to listen more quickly," said Sarah Caplener, Head of Alexa for Everyone. "We’re thrilled to introduce this feature to help customers further personalize their interactions with Alexa, and adapt the experience to best fit their individual needs."
We’re humbled by the initial response to this feature from customers who helped us build this and look forward to continuing to deliver impactful features for all our customers.
We gave a handful of customers and employees early access to the feature and are encouraged by the responses we’ve received thus far.
"I found the increased rate to be very pleasing, and it improved the efficiency of my interactions with Alexa," said Tom, a finance professional in his mid-30s with reduced useful vision due to retinitis pigmentosa, who loves being outdoors and spending time with his wife and kids. "Now that Alexa has the ability to speak faster, my conversations feel more natural. I enjoy more Q&A interactions such as 'Alexa, tell me how old the earth is,' or 'Alexa, tell me about the history of Buddhism.'"
"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 Jerry, a 97 year-old customer. "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."
"When we ask her about the Question of the Day, she goes so fast! We’re impressed at how easy it is to slow her down, so it'll be great not to have to ask her to repeat herself multiple times. We aren't 'techy' people, but we like that we can use our Alexa device and feel connected to her, so we definitely appreciate the ease-of-use of this feature," said Amazon customers Alicia (73 years-old) and Ron (91 years-old).
We look forward to delivering this feature to our customers, and will continue to listen to their feedback and innovate on their behalf.