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How to Train Your Dragon

Training Options for Speech Recognition Software

From the desk of Matthew McCord, M.S., CRC, Consultant – Mobility Team


Speech recognition software is a popular topic we discuss here at JAN. It is an accommodation that can be helpful for many people with a variety of different disabilities ranging from amputations to cumulative trauma disorders to multiple sclerosis. It is also helpful for individuals who work in a wide array of job types, like administrative assistants, health care professionals, and even call center customer service representatives. However, no matter how helpful an accommodation could be, if the individual is not trained in how to use it, then the individual will not be able to benefit from it. There are numerous resources out there that can provide training in the proper use of speech recognition software. Let’s review just a few to help get you started.

The most popular speech recognition software that we receive questions about is Dragon Naturally Speaking for Windows users or Dragon Dictate for Mac users. Both are manufactured by the company Nuance. As a good rule of thumb for any form of accommodation, reaching out to the manufacturer is a good first step in regards to securing training in how to use a product. This is true for Nuance, which has several resources on its website to train users on how to use Nuance software effectively.

However, if the manufacturer does not have resources to help with using its product then it may be best to turn your attention to websites whose primary focus is providing forms of training and education. For instance, the website Lynda.com has a course on the use of Dragon Naturally Speaking. Finally, if you are more of a book person, there are a variety of books out there that can help people get the most benefit out of speech recognition. For instance, this one by Scott Baker is designed to help authors use speech recognition more effectively.

Dragon may be the most common type of speech recognition we get questions about, but it isn’t the only one on the market. In fact, your computer may have a form of speech recognition built into it already as a standard feature. Various forms of accessibility features are often built into our operating systems so it can be helpful to poke around and see what all you already have at your disposal. Windows users, for instance, likely do already have a form of speech recognition built in if they are using a recent version of Windows. Microsoft has also provided resources on its website to assist people in using this software on Windows 7 and 8 as well as Windows 10. In addition to Microsoft having information on the use of its software, you can also find out information from other sources as well. For instance, you can find a discussion on how to help train the Windows software to better understand the user’s voice at thewindowsclub.com.

For more information on Dragon and other speech recognition programs, visit JAN's list of vendors and products

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