speech recognition system is another tool for writing. It provides an alternative
option for students unable to use standard methods for computer access to write
more efficiently. It should be viewed as part of a continuum of writing technology
strategies that includes pencils to computer input by voice.
recognition software and computer hardware, a student trains the computer to recognize
her voice for writing or giving computer commands. Students can use voice recognition
to write within a word processor or to create an email message. It can also execute
program commands such as saving or printing or to control the mouse.
Some programs can be used with portable digital recorders to let students
record their speech in multiple environments. The computer then transcribes their
work to text later.
is a rapidly growing and changing technology field. Many companies offer more
than one version of a program; different versions will have different features.
As you investigate these programs look for features that are most beneficial for
- Continuous Speech -- A student
speaks a string of words with a normal rate of speech, not pausing between words.
Word Processor -- A built-in word processor provides the user a quick
- Hands-Free -- A student's voice can create text,
input commands and perform mouse movements. Other programs require using the keyboard/mouse
together with the student's speech.
- Playback - The spoken
text is repeated in the student's voice.
- The produced text is read back with a computer voice. This may make it easier
to identify errors.
- Use Across Applications - Some programs
work with one or two applications, such as word processors. Others work with all
- Customization - A variety of options
should be examined:
- Built-in keyboard commands
- Built-in voice
- Built-in macros
- Macros created by the user
provide opportunities for students to control repetitive tasks, insert pre-determined
text phrases, or create scripts to do things like send e-mail, select and complete
math problems or organize a personal calendar.
are available that provide a range of options. This promising technology will
most likely be the input of choice by a wide range of computer users. Check out
the ATTO Speech
Recognition Software Comparison Chart for additional information on features
appealing to students.
Programs that offer continuous speech
Products using Dragon Naturally Speaking are provided by ScanSoft, Inc. Check their
Feature Matrix on the website to compare models.
Speech - With discrete speech, a student must pause between each spoken
word. This feature was common with the first speech recognition programs. Then
it was limited for a while, but today, the Naturally Speaking products again allow
for "one word at a time" speech. The slow pacing and operation may best
match the student's production style, at least at a certain point in time. Custom
words can be entered into the active vocabulary. This is useful for students whose
voices are not strong or consistent. Programs offering discrete speech include:
- Dragon Dictate (Dragon
- Keystone Screenspeaker (KeySpell)
This training utility for use with Dragon voice recognition software
helps poor readers set up and use their dictation software. It reads your work
back to you as you dictate.
Students who can benefit from
speech recognition vary greatly in their needs. Speech recognition can assist
students who have the following difficulties:
- Students who are unable
to manipulate writing tools and who require an alternative system.
who have difficulty with writing mechanics; those having difficulty with spelling,
- Students who have difficulty with the writing process; with
getting their ideas written down.
use of speech recognition requires certain abilities of student users. The level
of independence will vary with each student. Students must:
- Be able
to complete the voice training program,
- Be able to understand the dictation
- Learn how to use the voice program; be able to repeat phrases
in the same level of intonation
- Remember verbal prompts
the correct spelling of words,
- Identify words as they appear on the screen
and recognize and correct as they occur, and
- Be able to learn how to use
the speech program with other applications.
View our voice
recognition checklist for additional information.
Aids & Supports
Students using speech
recognition will need support from the educational system in terms of:
- Sufficient training for the student with trainer available,
support from persons familiar with the program,
- Adequate release time
for training of technical persons, educators, family members,
- Quiet school
locations where the students can use the system satisfactorily, and
support for the student to progress with writing opportunities.
Voice Recognition Resources
Within this fast changing
field, there are excellent resources to keep you updated:
From the QIAT
listserv, here are Tips
for Using Speech Recognition with Students with Disabilities.
An excellent site for issues related to speech recognition
technology. Join the spk2wrt listserv, explore the message archives
or interact with a variety of materials on this topic.
Read the entire Dragon Naturally Speaking Guide free! All
twenty-one chapters (288 pages) of this top-selling book are yours to read online.
To Write/ Word For Word: An overview of Speech Recognition by Bob Follansbee,
Find out what we really know about speech recognition for students
with LD and how it works or doesn't.
This site offers updates on voice recognition
technology with input from Dr. Bob Follansbee, Director of the Computer Learning
Program at Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.