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Assistive Device Technology Voice Recognition Software. Helynn Boughner EDU 674 Prof. Klein. What is Assistive Technology?.

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Assistive Device Technology Voice Recognition Software

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Assistive Device TechnologyVoice Recognition Software


EDU 674

Prof. Klein

What is Assistive Technology?

  • Is any technology that can help a person do a task. It can be ashigh-tech, as a computer system that speaks the words on its screen or as low-tech, as sticking a pen through a tennis ball to make it easier to hold.

  • Technology designed for people with disabilities to level the playing field and make it easier to complete tasks or compete for jobsthat may havepreviously not be open to them.


  • What is Voice Recognition Technology?

  • It is a computer application that lets people control a computer by speaking into it.

  • The student can use a microphone instead of a keyboard to execute commands or write a document.

  • When users speak into the microphone their words appear on the screen in a word processing format.


  • Voice recognition systems are made up of a computer with system software, voice recognition software, a microphone, and usually a sound card. To use voice recognition to word process, a word processing program is also needed. Each software program has different hardware requirements, but generally speaking a more powerful computer is needed--typically with a Pentium or a very fast 486-based CPU and at least 16 MB of RAM.

  • In general, the voice recognition software itself is built on three parts: a large electronic dictionary (e.g., a 150,000 word dictionary from some publisher such as Merriam-Webster), a smaller active dictionary that reflects the user's own usage, and a voice model.

Voice Reconition Systems Defined

  • Voice recognition systems vary along several parameters. First, there are dictation systems with vocabularies of varying size. Large dictation systems have large active vocabularies and enable users to enter large amounts of text with varied vocabulary. Large dictation systems generally have a vocabulary of 20,000 words or more. Smaller dictation systems may have a vocabulary of 10,000 words or less.

  • Second, there are command and control systems which are not designed for text entry, but rather for controlling various applications on the computer or using the computer as a voice-activated environmental control unit for other electronic applications (e.g., answering the phone, turning on the VCR). Typically these systems have vocabularies that are about 1,000 words or commands.

  • Third, systems are sometimes referred to as "speaker dependent" or "speaker independent." Speaker dependent systems cannot be used at all unless they have been trained to recognize an individual speaker's voice. Speaker independent systems claim to have generally high recognition rates "right out of the box" without training. Some training is required, however, to achieve an acceptable level of accuracy

Who Can Benefit from Voice Recognition Software?

  • Voice recognition technology can benefit students with learning disabilities that hinder their ability to spell and write.

  • Students considered to be poor spellers who struggle with standard spell checkers will definitely benefit if they have good oral language skills because voice recognition may enable them to become accomplished writers by circumventing the most frustrating aspects of text generation.


Back in 1988,

the basic system costed $9,000, not including the

computer itself, which had to be a relatively powerful,

and therefore costly, machine. Today, the cost of both the

hardware and software has dropped dramatically and there are

more choices. There are still some powerful voice recognition

options that cost thousands. However, it is now possible to

purchase a beginning-level voice recognition system for $100 or

less, and these will run on a basic multimedia computer.

Once an individual has the computer itself, voice recognition

is no longer an unusually costly option.

Manufacturer Info


  • Assistive Technologies, Inc., located in Naperville, Ill., provides assistive devices to schools and individuals. "The technologies we provide most often to school systems are voice recognition, including products such as DragonDictate and NaturallySpeaking

More Manufacturer Info….

  • ," Don Dalton, president of the company, told Education World. "Other products for people who have learning disabilities, such as Wordsmith, WYNN, and textHELP, are very popular too. Those products help people with learning disabilities read and write more efficiently and productively."

  • Dalton formed Assistive Technologies in 1990 to help disabled people find ways to work and contribute to society more effectively. He knows from experience the problems faced at school and work -- he's been paralyzed from the chest down since an accident at age 26. He formed Assistive Technologies to bring the technology to others, after he learned how to use speech-recognition software in his own business.

What are the leading Voice Recognition Systems on the Market

For IBM and compatible users, the three leading voice recognition systems are DragonDictate,IBM VoiceType, and Kurzweil Applied Intelligence

  • For Macintosh users, the primary system is Power Secretary.



  • As with other technologies, training is essential to successful use. Without training, students cannot use many devices to their full potential.

  • "The devices that help the least, especially in classrooms, are those that the teachers don't understand," Linkhorn says. "Kids have an amazing ability to utilize devices, but if there isn't a high enough level of training for staff, many devices are a waste of time and money."


  • Like all technological solutions, there is no "best" system. Determining the best system depends on the user's needs and the available resources. If the user needs 100% hands-free access to the computer, as of January 1997, DragonDictate is the only program that offers this feature, without having to patch several programs together. Otherwise the preferable system depends on factors such as the type of computer you prefer or have access to, and what kind of support for that system is available.

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