assistive technology speech recognition for learning disabilities

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  Assistive Writing

Speech recognition is often considered as an assistive writing tool for people with Learning Disabilities such as:
  • Dyslexia-- a language-based disability in which a person has trouble understanding words, sentences, or paragraphs.
  • Dysgraphia-- a writing disability in which a person finds it hard to form letters correctly or write within a defined space.
A person planning to use speech recognition must be aware he is required to go through an enrollment (training) session. This is a one time reading when the user must read aloud an excerpt of text that is displayed during the training feature of the speech recognition application. (For an example of enrollment text, please see What Is Speech Recognition) Depending upon the speech recognition software, there are several enrollment training excerpts to select from.

I use a technique of assisting people with poor reading skills through the initial enrollment training of speech recognition. I call this technique parroting. When parroting, I read aloud the enrollment text in phrases, consisting of between 3-6 words, and the speech recognition candidate repeats the words I have just spoken.

There is no single determination if speech recognition will, or will not, be appropriate technology for someone with a learning disability. I have learned that there is a degree of motivation required if speech recognition to be used as a writing tool.

I have found that the initial enrollment training, and the (dictation) training afterward to be a key factor to prevent Assistant Technology abandonment.

It's very important to have no delay when dictating, and seeing the word(s) displayed on screen. No delay, and the user is more likely to notice words that have been misrecognized (words misinterpreted by the speech recognition software). This can be accomplished using a high-end computer system:
  • Pentium 4 processor,
  • 2.2 GHz,
  • 512MB RAM

short ruler

The user must cope with the following when considering speech recognition as a successful writing tool:
  • basic computer skills,
  • word processing skills,
  • dictation skills,
  • when/how to use speech recognition commands,
  • and last, but not least-- MOTIVATION.
A comparison using speech recognition.
Think of each of the five skills I mentioned above, as a single strand of string. When intertwined, the strands of string become a strong rope. But-- the rope will (snap) if one or more of these strands of string is frayed.

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