Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Speech Recognition in Vista

Have you had a chance to explore the latest operating system from Microsoft?

I have yet to try this out for myself as my sense is that schools will be slow to switch over to Vista, Microsoft's new operating system. But....I watched this video from the accessibility lab at Microsoft about the speech recognition features built into Vista and I have to say I'm impressed.
The ease of use (and apparent accuracy) will be incredibly beneficial to our students especially those with physical disabilities that interfere with keyboard and mouse navigation. Besides the number grid feature, this adds another navigation option which shows numbers over icons and seems to facilitate navigation. It also looks much easier to explore the internet independently using the speech recognition built in Vista.

Ease of use. Excellent accuracy. Ability to easily train new words. Simple user interface. Command prompts.

Is this a reason to switch to Vista? It looks like Microsoft got it right this time.

(If you have students with physical disabilities who have tried this, please let me know what they thought. I love to hear the student's perspectives!)


Luis Perez said...

Very cool. I agree with you that this looks very easy to use. I really liked the use of numbers for navigation and the mouse grid.

Unfortunately, I will not have access to Vista until April 1st (contract issues).

I am also very excited about Apple's upcoming OS and the improved voices (which I'm sure you have already checked out here.

Beth Knittle said...


I was taken by the use of the focus on 'physical disabilities'. I agree speech recognition is quite a boon here. But I work with many who feel that these tools can be a godsend to those that have cognitive disabilities. My experience says there can be to great a learning curve to provide the quick success some parents are after. Do you have any thoughts on this or can recommend a speech to text program that is very easy to use and that does not require much training and correction on the part of the user. I just have not yet found anything that fits the bill.

Karen Janowski said...

I can't wait for Leopard to come out also! Thanks for that link to Alex, a new voice with the new OS. That's a huge leap forward in voice quality.

Have you looked into SpeakQ (Windows only)(www.wordq.com). This is an excellent product for younger students and worth trying with students with cognitive disabilities. It combines word prediction with speech recognition and is easier to use than other programs and easy to train.
The cognitive demands of speech recognition are significant as you have noted. I recommend that students have the ability to dictate, have high frustration tolerance, and have the ability to persist with the training and making corrections. There must be adequate hardware and available tech support for when there are technical glitches (as there will be!). Finally, there must be someone knowledgeable and available to help train the student.
The other thing to keep in mind is that SR doesn't have to be all or nothing. Students can train "yes/no," "true/false" or other short phrases.
Thanks for your comment! Hope this helps.