2000 Conference Proceedings

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Stop Taking Notes and Still Remember It All, Just Retain It

Neal C. Meskimen, ATS
Concert Assistive Technologies
North Branch, MN
(651) 674-0100
Email: ConcertAT@aol.com

How many times have you wished you could just listen and think about what a speaker is trying to tell us, but afraid you'll forget something if you don't write it down? Both challenged and non challenged learners alike suffer as they attempt to get even key words written while keeping up with a continuous flow of information rushing by your senses. Face it, we all are uniquely challenged in one manner or another, as Archie Bunker so well stated, "There's a little bit of me in all of you". The question begs how can one accomplish both feats while decoding auditory information, while timesharing as we struggle to make our fingers impart relevant information that will make sense to us later on? One or the other typically wins out and much of the time, both processes are compromised which was the opposite outcome you had in mind. What is one to do? There are readers, note takers, recorders and sometime crib notes. Wouldn't it be nice if we could do both without others though? Yeah, that would be cool! Now I'm more like others too. What if we could just listen and think the whole time and still walk away with some cool notes? Better yet, the notes would be what you just heard. That would be way cool. Even better, the "notes" could be in most any format that you learn and retain best by.

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It's a simple solution for the most part. Here's the recipe! One voice recognition system, but not the familiar application most of us think of. As we all know, it's not too cool to have a group of listeners dictating at the same time.

Rule #1 - Only the speaker does the recording, via voice recognition..

Rule #2 - The speaker repeats all questions and/or paraphrases and other comments.

Rule #3 - You, the interested listener, listens and thinks.

Rule #4 - You ask questions so later on you can remember what you didn't understand.

Rule #5 - You only have to remember just one thing - To pick a copy of notes in the format best suited for you.

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Output options:

1. You can take a printed copy of the "notes" providing you are a visual learner.

2. If you are an auditory learner, you need A/T to scan and speak the notes.

3. You can have a cassette tape copy made for use in a tape player.

4. You may do better if you have both visual and auditory feedback by using a computer.

5. There are several text to speech programs that can be configured to ones learning style.

6. Other formats could be Braille, refreshable Braille, large print or contrasting colors.

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There are several methods and approaches to accomplish this task:

1. The speaker wears a microphone connected to a computer with voice recognition software.

2. Or, the speaker wears a microphone connected to a high quality, digital tape recorder.

The second method should provide higher efficiency, as digital memory cards can be used to record and then downloaded quickly into a computer for processing in the required output formats. The higher end digital units allow memory cards to be removed for ease in transcribing thus leaving the recorder free for others to use.

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The fine print:

1. The speaker(s) must have a mature, trained voice file.

2. The speaker(s) must have a working understanding of using voice commands as needed.

3. The speaker(s) should be comfortable using this format understanding the benefit to all.

The inability to learn and communicate effectively is a constant frustration that hundreds of thousands live with each day. It presents difficulties in every aspect of life, and affects the potential to succeed in school, workplace, family life, and society. This new paradigm of Assistive Technology promises to satisfy a basic human need by providing individuals with the monumental achievement of learning and making ones self understood. Those of us who mastered this skill at two years old can never fully appreciate what a watershed event this is in anyone's life.

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Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright.