When I was in school, writing papers was incredibly difficult. The only way I could manage was by dictating what I wanted to write to my mother. I was lucky that she understood my dyslexia and had the time to help me. Fortunately, today’s students can be more independent by using speech-to-text writing software.
I’ve tried many different types of speech-to-text software and my favorite is Dragon NaturallySpeaking. (One caveat is that the PC version of the software is much more effective than the Mac version.) What makes Dragon special is that the software creates a unique profile for every user, allowing the program to learn each user’s specific vocabulary, the individual vocal quirks, and even a user’s unique writing style. If you’re looking to try Dragon with your students, check out The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity‘s article: Dragon Naturally Speaking.
While I use Dragon every day, there are plenty of other options to try. I like the built-in speech-to-text software on my phone, laptop, and iPad. If you have students who struggle to write, encourage them to try one of these free options before shelling out for Dragon. Speech-to-text features are common on both Apple and PC products.
No speech-to-text software is perfect, and each comes with its own frustrations. While speech-to-text software never spells a word wrong, which is a great boon for students with dyslexia, it can ‘mishear’ a word and then the writing may not make sense. These mistakes can be hard to find when editing because they are invisible to spellcheck. Also, until you get used to using speech-to-text software, the process can feel slow and finicky. Despite these issues, I find that speech-to-text software is an amazing tool that helps me and many of my students mitigate and control our writing difficulties.
Do any of you use speech-to-text software yourselves or with your students? Let us know the comments!
- Elizabeth Ross, M.A., SMARTS Media Manager