2003 Conference Proceedings

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Paula Walser, MS/CCC, SLP, ATP
Statewide Consultant
Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative
Cesa 6
PO Box 2568
Oshkosh, WI 54903
Phone: 920-236-0541
Email: pwalser@cesa6.k12.wi.us

Talking to Write. How long have we eagerly waited for the technology to do what we wanted, for a product that school districts could afford, and portable computer technology to support voice recognition technologies? Wait no longer. Voice recognition technology is now affordable, requires operating systems available in most schools and households, and is a viable tool for students struggling with the mechanics of writing. Dragon Naturally Speaking 6.0 released in January, 2002 is voice recognition software which includes the added features of text to speech, and training selections designed for students with marginal reading skills.

Students with mild disabilities often struggle with the mechanics of writing. These are the students who know what they want to say, but are unable to demonstrate the coordination of putting the pen/pencil to paper or the fingers to the keyboard. Voice recognition is one of many types of assistive technology that can assist and become the pen/pencil for these students.

What is voice recognition technology? It is a computer application that allows input via voice. Speech replaces the keyboard. Users can execute commands and write in conjunction with a word processing program. It works on both Mac and PC platforms, on both laptops and desktop machines. Historically, we have had two types of voice recognition: discrete and continuous. Discrete requires the user to speak one- word- at- a- time. Continuous allows the user to speak in a continuous manner.

An important consideration for selecting students for voice recognition is the fact that dictation is a new and different skill than writing. Many of the students we are attempting to use voice recognition with have never been successful with written language. They may have in fact never received instruction in written language that they were able to process and use. In some cases, we also need to teach these students composition of written language, dictation skills, and how to use the voice recognition software.

Within the state of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative has provided regional full day workshops on the topic of voice recognition. These workshops have been well attended by parents, students, teachers, and therapists of all kinds. Individuals who attend the workshop participate in a lecture about voice recognition. Then the participants train their own voice files using the software. This is followed by a tutorial on the features of the software. A majority of the teachers who attend the workshop leave with different students in mind for use of the technology. They also report feeling like they have a plan for implementation and places to go for support when using voice recognition technology.

Research supporting the use of voice recognition with students with mild disabilities will be reviewed and a thorough bibliography of resources for using voice recognition within the schools and training voice recognition technologies will be provided.

Various commercial training tools have recently become available. Speaking Solutions has published The Nifty Fifty Training Capsules for Dragon NaturallySpeaking 6.0. The training capsules are short lessons that train every aspect of Dragon Naturally Speaking 6.0. They are designed for use by business education professionals within the schools. LAB Resources of Wisconsin also offers LAB lessons for Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred and Professional Editions and also for Using the Dragon NaturallyMobile Digital Recorder with Dragon Naturally Speaking Ver 6.0. These lab lessons are colorful and easy to follow. The LAB Lessons are excellent hands-on handouts for workshops. (Sample pages from the LAB lesson will be provided within the handout.)

A series of training cd's have been created by Dan Neuman (author of the manual of DNS) called The Dragon Naturally Speaking 6 Video Guide. This video guide consists of 3 CD's with Dan guiding you visually through key topics and skills, demonstrating expert techniques and insider secrets. The DNS Video Guide sells for $99.95 and is available from various sources including Next Generation Technologies, Inc. Resources including list serv, users groups, and web sites supporting the use of voice recognition for students with disabilities will be made available. Dragon Naturally Speaking 6.0 will be demonstrated.

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