The new generation of voice recognition software is allowing users to achieve higher recognition accuracy rates with shorter training time. In addition, voice recognition software supports a wider variety of Windows-based applications. Despite these advances, the product remains technically challenging to persons with low vision and the blind. Many users in this population are confused about its efficacy and if voice recognition is appropriate for them.

Dragon Naturally Speaking (DNS) is one popular voice recognition software on the market. This software program is used with learning disabled students, ADD/ADHD. Dyslexia and physical/mobility disabilities. Users should be already proficient using Window based environment including the ability to: navigate menus, select items, and launch applications with ease. DNS is not a product for the beginning or novice computer users. Secondly, users need to have patience and perseverance. DNS technology is not 100% accurate, at least not until the technology is perfected. It would be a good idea to retrain the application after a few weeks and keep the vocabulary list updated with most frequently used words in the user’s documents. There are three versions of this software: Standard, Preferred, and Professional. The Professional version will work with Microsoft PowerPoint.

DNS can be a great tool in certain situations or for certain computer users. Users who have typing difficulties, such as those who have repetitive strain injuries such as tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome, or who perform a lot of typing can use DNS to dictate text into the computer, reducing the frequency of keyboard usage. Also, users who work in the field and need to take notes which later must be entered into the computer may benefit through the using the “transcribe recording” feature of DNS.

Whenever a user issues commands or dictates phrases to the computer, DNS records the user’s records the user’s speech patterns and saves them to a temporary WAVE file. DNS’s “Play That Back” feature is important to beginning users. The user can listen to their own speech patterns; can identify dictation errors and lean proper enunciation techniques. The “Read That” feature, which is only available if users choose to install the text to speech component during the DNS installation process, converts text into synthesized voice. This feature works similarly to that of a screen reader.

Low vision users can use their favorite screen magnification software with DNS. However, the speech component of some screen magnification software may have problems reading information of some dialog boxes during the process of creating a user profile. Some screen readers might not fully support DNS. Blind users may want to take full advantage of DNS hands free operation of the computer by customizing their screen readers and DNS. For example, blind users can use DNS’s “Play That Back” and “Read That” features to review onscreen text.