Monday, June 4, 2012

Voice Recognition Software

Voice Recognition Software or speech recognition software translates spoken words into text in regards to computer access or typing on a computer.  It is software that has been around for many years.  It can benefit a large population of individuals; ranging from people suffering with repetitive strain injuries to spinal cord injured individuals.  

Many voice recognition programs require the user to participate in a "training" task.  With this task, the user reads a passage so that the software can "learn" that person's speech patterns and pronunciations of words.  The program might also "read" text that is already saved on the user's computer to see how that individual writes grammatically.  

What are some of the benefits of voice recognition software?

Voice Recognition Software can enable an individual with limited or no upper extremity movement to access their computer independently.  It can be a quick way to get a lot of words on the page possibly decreasing fatigue and pain for certain individuals.  Since we speak faster than we type, once independent in the use, the user could "type" quickly, increasing efficiency and productivity in a work related environment as well as if used for leisure tasks.

What are some of the challenges of voice recognition software?

It can never be 100% accurate.  We have to remember that this is a computer and not a person.  If we say the wrong word, the wrong word will be typed; it cannot infer what was meant.  

Speaking to type is a completely different way of typing and can take some getting used to for an individual that is used to access their computer with their hands.  There can be a higher cognitive load to prepare what you want to say versus just figuring it out as you type.  Extended talking can be very fatiguing.  Often, this type of software would not be best for individuals that fatigue easily or energy conservation is important for their function.

Background noise can affect the accuracy as can if the user has a cold and does not sound like their usual self.  It is best to use this software in a quiet environment.  

It requires quite a bit of memory and processing speed.  If you are thinking of investing in this type of software, be sure to check the specifications required to run this software effectively.  

Finally, there are a large amount of commands that this software requires in order for the user to be completely hands-free.  For an individual with a spinal cord injury, they would need to learn the commands for independence with use.  If the user can access the keyboard, sometimes they choose to use the software to get the words on the page but use the keyboard and the mouse to fix any errors.  The individual has to see what works best for them.

Overall, the use of voice recognition software can be beneficial for the appropriate individual.  As with any assistive technology, there are pros and cons to its use.  It is important to remember that there are many software options available to facilitate independence in an individual.  If voice recognition software is not an appropriate option, there are many other items on the market to try.


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