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BellaOnline's Special Education Editor

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Dragon Naturally Speaking - Voice Recognition Software

Guest Author - Valerie Shoopman

Have you ever gotten writer’s block where you were given a writing assignment but couldn’t think of a thing to write about? I think we have all been there a time or two.

But what if you had tons of great ideas bouncing around in your head and no way to get them out? Now, wouldn’t that be much more frustrating? I certainly think so and many special needs kids are experiencing this same thing everyday in classrooms across the world. Kids who have average to above average IQs along with fine or gross motor issues causing problems with handwriting or keyboarding.

However, technology has definitely come to the rescue in this area with a software product called Dragon Naturally Speaking. Called voice recognition, this software will actually type what you say. The accuracy using this software can approach 95-99% with training.

The person using Dragon Naturally Speaking will need to train the software to recognize their voice quality, level, speech patterns, and pronunciations. The initial training doesn’t take very long, only about 30 minutes. However, to begin to approach the 95-99% accuracy levels, you will need to train the software even more. For example, when the software types what you said incorrectly, you would need to use the software to correct the error so it can then remember how you said that word.

The other training that needs to take place is the student or person using the software needs to get comfortable thinking what they want to say and then talking in a smooth, natural voice. They will also want to be familiar with all the commands. You cannot only have it type what you say, but Dragon Naturally Speaking also understands commands such as punctuation, file open and save commands, and just about anything you can do with the mouse or keyboard.

If a student has a speech impediment or doesn’t pronounce words and syllables the same each time, then using the software can become very frustrating for them because it will never be able to accurately translate and type what they are saying. Dragon Naturally Speaking also will not work well for a student who is easily frustrated or lacks the ability to form ideas and thoughts in their mind first.

I have trained many students and adults to use Dragon Naturally Speaking in the last 8 years. The most successful have been ones who have the ideas and thoughts organized in their mind, can speak clearly and pronounce words the same each time, but just have difficulty writing or typing.

Here is my favorite example of just how Dragon Naturally Speaking can empower a student to take charge of their learning.

I worked with a 6th grader who had Tourette’s Syndrome and had a lot of tics and fine motor issues. We tried to get his keyboarding skills up, but he could never get more than about six words per minute even though he tried his hardest. Writing was even more difficult for him. His first name had only three letters, but even that was difficult for him to write. He had so much knowledge in his head that it was just unbelievable he was unable to produce written work and share it. When he was allowed to verbalize information, he was just amazing, but when asked to produce anything written, he couldn’t get much onto paper in any decent amount of time. Usually he just gave up in frustration.

Then I introduced him to Dragon Naturally Speaking. What an amazing turnaround. He saw for the first time in his life the potential for him to be able to turn in quality written work – what he knew he was really capable of. He spent a tremendous amount of effort training and learning the program.

The first payoff was he won first place in an essay contest. This essay contest was amongst his peers throughout several private schools in regular education!

The second payoff was when he went back to his traditional school, the school district was so impressed with his work ethic, output and knowledge of Dragon Naturally Speaking, that they installed it on the district’s computers for him to use so he didn’t have to lug his laptop back and forth. I was very proud of him for achieving such high goals and showing me the real power technology can give a person.

I have seen tremendous results with Dragon Naturally Speaking giving students the ability to keep up with their peers and produce quality written work time and time again. I highly recommend it.

Buy Dragon Naturally Speaking now and help to empower a child in your life!
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Content copyright © 2014 by Valerie Shoopman. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Valerie Shoopman. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Celestine A. Jones for details.

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