Spellchecking for Children in Web Search: a Natural Language Interface Case-study

Casey Kennington, Jerry Alan Fails, Katherine Landau Wright, and Maria Soledad Pera. 2021. “Spellchecking for Children in Web Search: a Natural Language Interface Case-study”. In Proceedings of the First Workshop on Bridging Human-Computer Interaction and Natural Language Processing. To appear.


Given the more widespread nature of natural language interfaces, it is increasingly important to understand who are accessing those interfaces, and how those interfaces are being used. In this paper, we explore spellchecking in the context of web search with children as the target audience. In particular, via a systematic literature review of work that illustrate challenges and limitations, we show that, while widely used, popular search tools are ill-designed for children. We then use spellcheckers as a case study to highlight the need for an interdisciplinary approach that brings together natural language processing, education, human-computer interaction to address a known information retrieval problem: query misspelling. We conclude that it is imperative that those for whom the interfaces are designed have a voice in the design process.

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