Assistive Speech Technology Solutions
Whether you are experiencing the first twinges of repetitive stress injury in your upper limbs, are recovering from an accident, or are about to embark on a graduated return to work, speech recognition technology is an integral component to your functionality with a computer.
Voice PC Actions
Quickly perform computer tasks entirely by voice, minimizing the use of mouse and keyboard.
Return to Work
Dragon eases the transition of accommodation and graduated return to work scenarios.
Rapidly create email, documents, and more; high efficiency is within reach.
Dragon Speech Recognition
Dragon Professional is the ideal solution for those with upper limb limitations who are returning to work or require accommodation -— whether temporary or permanent. Speech recognition enables you to interact with your PC by voice – creating text three times faster than typing — with up to 99% accuracy (100% for the most dedicated of you) — and control your PC entirely by voice. Increase productivity and accessibility.
Dragon Speech Recognition in the Real World
Whether you choose to use Dragon speech recognition software to increase your productivity or for the purposes of minimizing keystrokes and mouse clicking, it is very important for both users and employers to understand what is possible with Dragon. Speakeasy Solutions is frequently asked the question: “How long until I will be proficient with Dragon?” Unfortunately, this is not an easy answer as there are far too many variables including:
- the amount Dragon is to be depended upon,
- the programs to be used with Dragon,
- time available for practice,
- level of commitment,
- time available for tweaking/customization,
- having the appropriate equipment (PC that meets minimum specifications, speech recognition software edition, and quality microphone hardware),
- computer and program knowledge prior to embarking upon using Dragon, and so forth.
However, in the more than 19 years that Speakeasy Solutions has been implementing speech recognition solutions across Canada there are several factors that are absolutely key. Those and more are discussed below.
Workplace environment seriously impacts the effective use of Dragon. Initially you may find yourself self-conscious about dictating to the computer should you be in a situation where others overhear you (for example, within cubicles, out in open spaces and so on). Moreover, if your work environment is noisy at any point throughout the day, this noise adversely effects your use of Dragon (high levels of background noise impedes the efficacy of Dragon).
Therefore, if you are in an open space, or in a cubicle surrounded by other individuals, it is prudent to find a quiet place in which to use Dragon. If you must be in such a location, your employer should find the quietest corner of the office in which to work. Also, your coworkers should also be made aware that you are using speech recognition technology, and should respect your need for a quiet workspace.
It is very helpful for people to understand the basics of computer use. For instance, knowledge of keyboard shortcuts, how to select and choose items by keyboard and similar computer functions is extremely useful. Furthermore, understanding the software programs in which Dragon is to be used is also important. However, these prerequisites are not crucial as this information is dispensed during Speakeasy Solutions’ training (although extends training time).
As an aside, learning to use Dragon on an introductory level usually involves approximately 6 to 8 hours of training from Speakeasy Solutions. If basic computer knowledge and software functionality is also dispensed, then this adds the number of training hours required from Speakeasy Solutions.
Hardware & Software Prerequisites
Using the latest version of Dragon® Professional Individual (currently, version 15) is often not enough to be completely successful. A high-quality microphone headset (of which we provide a variety, depending on each individual’s needs) is essential. Moreover, a telephony device allowing you to use the same headset for phone and PC assists tremendously if you spend as much time on the phone as you do the computer. Seamless integration of the hardware is imperative prior to the first training appointment.
Proper installation and setup of Dragon is crucial. Speakeasy Solutions optimizes the software and your computer as well as Dragon’s options at the outset. This installation procedure ensures the best possible chance of success with speech recognition, limiting any potential roadblocks that might result from just a standard installation. Speakeasy Solutions is very happy to work with your IT department to ensure a smooth transition.
Dragon functions in most computer programs and is primarily used in Microsoft Outlook (for e mail), Microsoft Word (for document creation), as well as sundry other programs. If you need to minimize keystrokes and mouse clicks, then Dragon is required within all programs that you use on a day-to-day basis.
Dragon performs two primary functions:
- transcribing your voice into text, and
- controlling the computing environment (i.e. computer and software functions).
Dragon provides built-in commands for use within Microsoft Office applications, Internet Explorer, and basic computer functions.
In order to control other programs by voice, automate repetitive tasks, or perform functions outside of the aforementioned commands, custom commands need be created with Dragon. You are taught how to create commands so that you become independent and able to create productivity commands on an as-needed basis for yourself.
Transcribing your voice into text does not function well in every single program on your computer, but there are workarounds available and are imparted.
Speakeasy Solutions strives to address using Dragon on a global basis, encouraging the use of Dragon overall software applications. Tips and tricks regarding using Dragon in specific programs are discussed in Speakeasy Solutions’ training program.
Dragon is not the be-all and end-all. There are aspects of computer use where Dragon is not as efficient as conventional mouse and keyboard. Such discussions and workarounds are also passed along during training.
With the careful implementation of custom commands, virtually any activity on the computer is emulated more quickly by voice than with mouse and keyboard. It is not unusual for employees who use Dragon effectively to outperform their coworkers who are not using Dragon.
It is important to practice with Dragon as often as possible during the first few weeks. The more time you have available for practice, the more quickly you learn Dragon. Repetitious use of commands and methodology is absolutely vital. Speakeasy Solutions provides voice command reference sheets which should be photocopied and kept at hand.
How much time you devote to practice is entirely up to you. However, if you use Dragon during the course of your normal workday in a non-stressful environment then you have the time that you need to look up commands and not feel rushed. One of the most detrimental factors preventing the learning of Dragon occurs when you are overburdened with work or under deadlines while you are trying to initially use and practice with Dragon. It is imperative in the beginning to have the time that you need to learn to use Dragon at your own pace.
If you feel exasperated with Dragon at any time, stop using the program and use your computer conventionally (if possible). Return to using Dragon several hours or a day later. Exceptional proficiency with Dragon during the first couple of weeks is unlikely. Give yourself some time. Again, the more you practice, the less steep the learning curve, and the quicker you become proficient with Dragon.
If you wish to use Dragon due to physical limitations or a strong desire for productivity enhancement, you are already quite committed in making Dragon work for you. If you continue to fall back on old habits including using the keyboard and mouse where Dragon would actually be faster (often this happens because commands are forgotten), then Dragon is quite simply not effective for you. Some people relegate the use of Dragon to document creation or e mail, but even this is frustrating if time is not taken to learn the finer points of customizing your speech recognition use and workflow.
The effort you put into learning Dragon, as well as customizing your speech recognition experience, definitely pays off. It is entirely possible to dictate up to 160 wpm with an almost 100% accuracy rate. Moreover, taking the time to automate numerous tasks on your computer (i.e. creating new documents based on templates, filling in repetitious information etc.) saves you a tremendous amount of time. Soaring with Dragon is more than possible, but it does depend upon your level of commitment and the time that you have available for setting up your speech recognition environment.
Tweaking & Customization
Learning the basics of Dragon is just one part of the process. Taking the time and effort to customize your vocabulary minimizes speech recognition errors. Tweaking the vocabulary is absolutely essential for quick and effective voice to text. A little bit more time-consuming is the creation of custom commands.
Custom commands involve anything from inserting addresses and other repetitious text (also known as boilerplate, macros etc.) to forwarding a selected email to a specific individual with various instructions by way of a single voice command.
It is important to think about what you do each and every day, and how often you perform those tasks. Any repetitious task, no matter how complex, is often performed more quickly by utilizing a Dragon command. This is where the true power of Dragon lies and where Speakeasy Solutions enjoys assisting their clients the most.
Speakeasy Solutions instructs on the creation of various commands to coincide with your needs and your workflow, allowing you to experience immediate benefits. In reference to complex computer functions requiring advanced command creation, Speakeasy Solutions creates these custom commands on the spot for you.
Most of the tweaking that you do with Dragon occurs during the first couple of weeks of speech recognition use. One of the pitfalls people often find themselves falling in is that they just don’t have the time to make even the smallest of commands, or modify the vocabulary in some way. This is a detriment as Dragon does not function at its peak ability without your input. Please make sure that you do take the time to modify the vocabulary and create any custom commands that assist you. After the first couple of weeks, any customization and tweaking necessary is performed on an as-needed basis.
Initially Dragon seems like this absolutely wonderful new tool. The first couple of days holds much enchantment with Dragon. However, once Dragon is being used on a day-to-day basis, you discover that it requires a little bit more than just simply dictating to the computer. Have patience with both yourself and Dragon. Taking the time to practice and customize your speech recognition use makes all the difference.
Most people tend to become proficient with Dragon anywhere from two weeks to two months after initial training with Speakeasy Solutions. This completely varies depending on many of the above factors (primarily stress levels and time available for practice and customization). As mentioned above, the learning curve diminishes greatly if you have ample time for practice and customization.
If, after one to three months’ time, you find that Dragon is still not “working for you”, please contact Speakeasy Solutions to discuss your situation further. Perhaps there are other factors prohibiting your effective use of speech recognition.
It is absolutely vital for employers to understand that once a user has been trained in the use of Dragon, full functionality with speech recognition does not occur immediately. After the training process it’s important that the user have time to adapt their work habits, learn Dragon, as well as customize their speech recognition environment. Users become proficient from anywhere between two weeks and two months. The learning curve is greatly diminished for those who have a decreased workload, very little stress, support, and ample time for practice and acclimatization.
Employers with any questions or concerns are encouraged to contact Speakeasy Solutions directly. Dragon may not be a cure-all for everything, but it improves accessibility as well as productivity if given sufficient support and time.