Freedom from the tyranny of typing

Be warned. This blog post is being done by voice. I’m using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10. According to the blurb, Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 is faster and more accurate than ever.

Well, the words certainly appear quicker. About 50% quicker. It’s also more accurate. A great thing if you can’t spell is that it spells words correctly. It also needs barely any training.

The new version allows you to format text as well as deleting and copying it.

You can use Dragon with just about any program but it does work rather well with Word and Firefox for example. In Firefox you can jump to a hyperlink by just saying part of its name. You can also control Windows itself and other programs with voice commands.

I have to say that, so far, this has been slower than typing but then I am a touch typist. I have also had to make corrections, albeit verbally. For example, ‘but then’ came out as ‘Batman’. It also offered irritating spaces after apostrophes. (I found out later that single quote commands are better.)

Okay, I give up. I resorted to using the keyboard to remove those pesky spaces. Actually I’m still speaking but I’m about to revert to typing.

It’s a strange thing but, even though I said I was going to type, I carried on talking. DNS really is pretty good until you want to do something weird.

For straightforward text entry, it makes few mistakes. And, when it does, you just say the bit it got wrong – my most recent one was ‘typing’, it kept putting it in as ‘type in’. But all I had to say was “select type in” and it threw up a few alternatives. Number one was ‘typing, so I just said “choose one” and the correction was made.

Of course, I had to be near enough to the screen to see when things were going wrong. But, equally, I could have been in a comfortable chair on the other side of the room, assuming I had a wireless headset. I could have tackled any mistakes later.

Some people don’t like typing, some have disabilities which prevent them using their fingers. Either way, Dragon Naturally Speaking, gives them a way of achieving something that was previously difficult or impossible. I spoke to a couple of people recently, one of whom works with Thalidomide victims, the other with people who have spinal injuries. Both reported how previously frustrated individuals had found DNS a great way of participating more fully in life.

This isn’t the prime use of this technology, but it is interesting to see that it can be liberating for people of all abilities. Except, maybe, touch typists.

Retail prices start at £89.99.

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