I have worked on a couple different projects to teach younger children (3rd – 5th grade) how to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking both with version 9 and now with the new version 10.  From my experience Version 10 is easier, because it requires less training time.

That said the training environment is not geared towards children and for that matter its not really geared towards those with vision impairments, which is rather odd. 

Frankly, its a definite product short fall that should be corrected in version 11, and preferably in an update to version 10 (where it should have been to begin with).

That said, it is still a very good tool for helping children to learn how to compose their thoughts into text and an even better tool for older users that have visual impairments. 

Its this weird paradox that actually enables me to categorize this article under both Improving Technology and Broken Technology at the same time!

When I served in the military years ago, we used to say that you go to war with the army that you have.  That means both people and equipment.  So I’m not going to belly-ache about the absence of a design that would make this better for young users or the visually impaired.  Instead, I’m offering up some tips to help them get started.

  1. The primary goal for a young user or the visually impaired is to get the minimum training accomplished so that they can then begin to use the product with a program like Microsoft Word.  With that program both groups can increase the zoom up to something that is easier to read.
  2. For children, I recommend that they train with an adult standing by waiting to help them with any words they can not say or can not read.
  3. Alternatively, the text at the bottom of this article has been transcribed from the DNS10 training session from one of the articles written for children.  A user could copy this text and print it out in a large enough font to read.  The problem is that the reading window that Dragon NaturallySpeaking uses for training is too small, has text that is too small, and it can not be resized to fill up the screen.
  4. In addition, a user could set the resolution on their computer at a very low level like 800×600 which will increase the size of the box and the text.
  5. As a final alternative, a user could ask someone else to record the text of the training session, and then they could listen to that recording and speak it while they listen.  Again they may need someone to help them know when to begin speaking and when to stop (in between new windows)

 

These are the segments that you might want to copy and paste into a more readable format.

In this step the computer listens to the sound of your voice and adjust the volume setting of your microphone when the computer is finished adjusting the volume it beeps to signal that the process is complete if you reach the end of this text but you have not heard a beep start reading the text again from the beginning you should only have to read about 10 to 15 seconds

In this step the computer checks the audio input from your sound system having high-quality audio input is very important for good speech recognition or audio input will make it difficult or impossible for the program to recognize your speech accurately when the computer has finished checking the audio quality it beeps to signal that the test is complete if you reach the end of this text but you have not heard a beep start reading the text again from the beginning you should only have to read for about 15 seconds

Welcome to general training

 

training is about to begin

 

You are about to read some short stories. The computer will listen while you read, so they can learn what your voice sounds like. Students at Provo high school wrote these stories for you to read. Michael Rutter and Carl’s Barksdale edited them. We hope you enjoy the stories! Susie, the singing swine by J. E. E. Rockwood once upon a time there was a pig. But this wasn’t any ordinary pig. This pig could talk! Oh it sounds crazy, but it’s true! She could say all the words you and I can, and even some we can’t. Farmer Bill used to come out every day and talk with that pig. It was quite a sight to see. Farmer Bill set on a tree stump with the pig right by him. They talked as though it was the most natural thing in the world for a farmer and his pig to speak with one another. It had never occurred to Bill that most pigs can’t talk. It was quite a shock when it dawned on him. He was talking to his wife, Lucille, during dinner. Bill mentions something his pig had said. Lucille looked up from her plate and stared at Bill. "Pigs can’t talk! They are stupid," she said as she took another bite. Bill thoughtfully chewed his carrot. Obviously not all pigs were too stupid to talk. This pig could talk! Then he thought that if his pig could talk just like people can, maybe she could do other things people can do to. Maybe she could cough, hum, or maybe she could sing! What an idea! The thought kept turning over in Bill’s mind as he finished his supper. He calmly walked out to the pasture and knelt by Susie, the pig. "I have a question," he said. "Can you sing? The pig smiled as well as a pig can smile and said, "of course I can sing!" She started singing the most amazing song, Beethoven’s "ode to Joy." It was the best song bill had ever heard! "That’s amazing!" He said, "can you sing anything else?" Susie pranced around Farmer Bill singing Mozart. "I’ve never heard anyone sing like you before!" Bill patted the pig’s head and smiled warmly before walking back to the house. Once inside, Bill picked up the phone and called an old friend of his from school. This friend happened to run Carnegie Hall. It was the very same Carnegie Hall that all the great musical people have performed an explanation point they had a pleasant conversation before Bill went to bed. A week later a huge crowd gathered at Carnegie Hall. Nobody knew what was going on. They heard that some special performer was out to sing, someone fantastic. But not a single person knew who it was! The mystery only added to the excitement. The crowd became quiet as the orchestra warmed up. They were still as the lights dimmed. There was a long silence as the crowd leaned forward in their chairs and listened to the announcer. "Carnegie Hall is proud to present. Susie!" Farmer Bill walked onto the stage in a suit. Following him on a leash came his amazing pig. She wore a bright pink dress with tiny white polka dots and trimmed in lace. Around her head was a white bow. The crowd sat in surprised silence. They didn’t know if they were supposed to cheer or laugh! Bill remove the leash as Susie sat herself down in front of the orchestra. Bill walked off the stage, leaving Susie alone.

So that’s it so far. This took more effort than I realized to create, and I keep thinking that there must be a better way to go about this. That said, short of combing through Nuance’s job search board or something, it would seem that this function would be best handled by Nuance in house.

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