I am one of those fortunate enough to be able to touch type although having seen many people struggle with a keyboard I thought it was about time to discuss using Speech Recognition to ease the burden faced by the two finger typers left in this world. In addition to helping those not familiar with using a keyboard Speech Recognition can also be extremely useful to people that through disability physically have trouble typing. Fortunately getting set up with Speech recognition is completely free for those that have the popular Office XP installed on their machine and to get started simply requires finding a suitable microphone. Although a standard desk microphone would be sufficient it would certainly be worthwhile investing on a dedicated headset. Once this has been sorted the next step is to get the software set up so open any of the Office XP applications then click on ‘Tools’ and ‘Speech’ which will then launch the speech configuration wizard.
If this option isn’t available then you will need to install it by going to the Add/Remove Programs application and changing your Office configuration to ensure that Speech Recognition is present.
The first time you attempt to use Speech recognition you will be required to spend a short time not only setting up the microphone but also training the computer to recognise the sound of your voice and any background noises that may be present. This involves reading a number of passages of text so the computer can get familiar with your accent – as you can imagine it would be difficult to program an application that accurately understands both a Northerner and Southerner without a certain degree of training. Once this step is completed the language bar will be present at the top of the screen so now when you’re ready to start talking click on the ‘dictation button’ and the computer will listen and translate anything you say into written words.
If you want to have a conversation with someone else in the room without the computer taking notes just click the same button again to stop the computer from listening. Whilst the speech engine is generally pretty accurate it does have a problem with words that sound alike such as ‘their’ and ‘there’ but these can easily be corrected by selecting the rather imaginatively titled ‘correction option’ from the language bar. Common grammar can also be easily inserted, for example simply say ‘comma’, ‘period’, ‘semi-colon’, ‘question mark’ and so on to have them translated in to your document.
A nice addition to configuring voice recognition is that you will also find that this language bar will be present in other compatible applications such as Internet Explorer. This allows not only easy dictation for online forms and the sound but also Voice Commands can be issued rather than using the mouse. If you are a fast typist stick with what you know as voice recognition will certainly just slow you down but if you do find yourself struggling with a keyboard then taking advantage of this included feature is certainly worth a go. If you don’t have Office XP then do have a look on the Internet as there are dozens of extremely low priced and even free applications available for download.