Your self-directed employment assistant
This past year, I have witnessed an increase in professionals seeking help for writing support. Many businesses have, or are making budget cuts and reducing or removing access to assistants who were essential in helping to edit written-work or communications to clients and customers. If you experience challenges with penmanship, typing, spelling, and or grammar, you will want to read this blog article and future posts in this series.
The past month's blog, I wrote about word prediction programs that can help you spell correctly and type more efficiently. This month I will address speech recognition as a topic. You are probably familiar with and may have even tried some level of this tool if you have ever spoken into a device to have your “dictation” typed onto the device’s screen. Years ago, this tool was very likely used more by individuals who had challenges with the motor aspects of typing and needed to control the computer and keyboard via speech. Many who used this tool then, described it as more difficult and frustrating compared to their experiences with the more current options.
The more current options of speech recognition offered as built-in accessibility options in mobile products (smart-phones and tablets) and computer operating systems do not allow you to “train” your voice and do not allow you to edit with your voice like you can when using the purchased versions of Dragon. Nuance, the manufacturing company, sells Dragon Naturally Speaking for PCs and Dragon for Mac for Macs. These full versions allow you to create a profile that will continue to hone accuracy when the product is used. You can read several passages offered in the voice training option which allows the program to learn how you pronounce phonemes and phonemic blends (basically how you pronounce a word). Therefore, even a user with a speech impediment can have better chances at achieving dictation accuracy. The full versions also offer several voice editing commands that increase proficiency when dictating.
More people are deciding to use speech recognition as a tool to enhance his or her productivity when writing, even if he or she does not experience challenges with spelling or typing. Whatever the reason for considering to use speech recognition, it is important to remember written-work is grammatically different from how most of us speak. To dictate successfully you need to:
1) Establish accuracy in that the program correctly interprets what is dictated
2) Organize your thoughts about what to say prior to dictating
3) You need to dictate the sentence to represent written structure
4) You need to speak punctuation while you are dictating the sentence
5) You need to be able to identify the errors, and make edits
Some individuals may not find this tool the most viable option for them. Some may find the program interprets his or her dictation correctly in printing what was said; however, that individual may not have the executive function skills needed to organize their thoughts and dictate written style sentences with punctuation. On a rare occasion, I have encountered an individual who I could understand clearly (no speech impediments), yet, for some reason; the computer would not understand and not interpret what they said correctly. This is a tool that requires training and time. If done correctly, it can become an essential component for allowing one to get their written-work done efficiently and successfully.
If you are new to speech recognition and would like to consider using it, I encourage you to seek out someone who already implements it or teaches others to use it prior to purchasing it. If you try the free built-in options on any of your devices and find success- that is great! However, if you are frustrated with it, you may still find success with the purchased option.
It is essential you meet the optimal minimum requirements regarding processing speed and memory for speech recognition programs. If you have experienced success using speech recognition in the past and now encounter lessor accuracy, or a lag in the time it takes for the print to show up on the computer screen, it may be your device is not able to meet the demands of the program. Remember the concept is that it will work wherever you are typing on your computer so you want it to integrate with the programs you use at work. You will want to investigate if it works with that system, whether it is Microsoft Word, Pages, Google Docs, or a specialized third party program that hosts client’s info like a medical record system. Furthermore, remember you will be speaking aloud, and you need a noise canceling headset or to be in an area that is quiet. If you need writing supports for spelling and typing but can't be in a quiet area or speak aloud, then look at last month's blog on word prediction.