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Voice Recognition - does it work?

Posted on March 8, 2011 at 1:11 PM

In my discussions with the many fabulous people that I have the privilege to work with, one piece of software that comes up time and time again is Voice Recognition. Does it work?, has it improved since I tried it 6 years ago? and many other questions such as these are asked of this technology. The answer  'yes it does definitely work' is true, however, it's not really just a simple yes or no... The answer is generally more a 'yes it does, but'.

Voice Recognition is software designed to allow you to dictate to your computer so that it transcribes your voice into text onto the screen, or carries out navigational or control commands by using your voice. You can enrol by reading a set passage to allow the software to understand your voice and build up your voice file. This does tend to give a better immediate recognition rate, but if reading a passage on the screen is difficult, you don't have to do this and you can just start to use the program straight away.

The nature of the software means that it requires up to the job RAM to run it (depending upon your operating system) and a processor to match, something a user found to their frustration recently when I was asked to do some training for them. The software that they had got would not work on their original machine - it was fine for all the other things they had to do on it, but was approximately 5 years old and has an AMD processor, which the voice recognition definitely did NOT like. So they needed to consider an up to date computer to use the software. Another source of difficulty can be the microphone. If you are going to get good quality recognition out of the software, then you need good quality sound going in... and this means a soundcard that is recommended  with the voice recognition software and is known to give good quality or failing this, where you aren't sure about your soundcard, then a USB microphone is a better bet.

With this type of software, a big consideration is how much time you are wanting to devote to it and how are you going to use it. As a dictation device and alternative to the keyboard, then you may not have to learn too many commands as you would just be dictating and correcting. However, if you are wanting to use it for navigation and more hands free use then there is a steeper learning curve and help and support would be advisable

I would certainly recommend it to people who have physical access needs and whose voice is clear and consistent, sometimes with the consideration of a backup input method if appropriate. It can also be beneficial for people with Dyslexia, to help with getting your ideas onto the computer and not having to consider how to spell words - the software will either get the word right or completely wrong, it will never mis-spell it !

If you aren't sure which type of voice recognition software you might need, or need general advice on whether you feel it would be suitable then contacting someone in the know could save you money and a lot of time and effort - and that is definitely a yes with no buts...!

Categories: Accessibility

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