Voice recognition has improved so much over the past 10 years, that it can now be utilised easily, without a long period spent “training” software to recognise your voice.
I’m sure that you can imagine how this technology can be a really powerful tool for a huge range of children with additional support needs – from reluctant writers, to the visually impaired, to those with a physical impairment – the list goes on. Even children or young people who do not find writing especially challenging but are easily distracted may find that they get more work done using voice recognition.
For iPad users, there are a number of ways that you can use voice recognition listed below. Be aware, however, that all of them require an internet connection.
Siri is Apple’s own voice recognition software, and is built into iPads 3rd generation and above. This means that it is not available to those using iPad 1 or 2. This post on Macworld takes you through how to set up Siri.
You may be familiar with the name Dragon from their “Naturally Speaking” software for PC and Mac. Their app for iPad is free, and pretty decent. It does require clear speech and a quiet-ish environment, and can sometimes struggle with the Scottish accent. Nevertheless, it is easy to use, and has the advantage of working on iPad 2, which many schools have purchased.
This is another free app, with some extra features. With this app you can handwrite on the screen, type or use voice recognition to add text. You can also add post it notes, highlight text or draw circles etc around words. It connects with dropbox, so it would be easy for a pupil to annotate worksheets, for example, or perhaps record their thoughts about their large-print book. Have a look at this video to see it in action.
For any of these options, using a headset with microphone can help cut down on ambient noise, and give a greater chance of success. You should be careful, however, as non-Apple headsets with microphones require an adapter to work with the iPad – if in doubt, contact me before purchasing.
Look out for another post soon, when I’ll be showing you how to set up voice recognition on our BT-managed laptops and desktops.