In the past, individuals with disabilities were dependent upon others to perform a basic work-related task. Today with developments in technology, individuals with disabilities can work independently. Dragon Naturally Speaking is really making me more independent.

dragon naturally speaking

Dragon Naturally Speaking

Individuals with disabilities can achieve independence in their work through the use of adaptive technologies such as Dragon Naturally Speaking and Kurzweil Reader 3000. As most of you know, my disability is Cerebral Palsy – as a result, I am unable to read or write by myself without the use of adaptive technologies. These two programs allow me to read whatever and whenever I want to and write something anytime I want.

An Army of Support in Law School

When I was in law school, I had a staff of 30 readers, who help me study from 8 o’clock in the morning until 10 o’clock at night. When I practiced law, I had a constant need for a staff of readers and typist to help me out.  They imported the work that I dictated because speech and reading technology were not fully developed. It had mistakes in the text so I didn’t want that.

The Need for Help Ended My Law Practice

The constant need for staff was one of the reasons why I was unable to make a profit as an attorney. Just before I close my practice in 2010, I was able to dictate documents and correspondence to Dragon Naturally Speaking. The documents required a lot of editing back then recognition capacity was only about 65%. Now through the use of these technologies, I can function independently.

Speech and Reading Technology

Speech technology has really improved over the years. I am a proponent of Dragon Naturally Speaking 15. The training for this product is much simpler than it was in the past. The user had to read long paragraphs from a book or speech in order to train the software with Dragon 15. You now simply read two simple paragraphs to test and set up your audio input system. Periodically, Dragon prompts you to let your profiles learn from new documents or emails. This is a great way to add new words without having to specifically train them. The only difficult thing that I found with learning from emails was when I forgot the password to one of my accounts.

TTY Disability Awareness

Background Noise and Dragon Naturally Speaking

It can be difficult to use Dragon when there is a great amount of background noise. For example, when I worked at Social Security, we had busier times in the office and the software became impossible to use because of the noise. Another problem that occurred, while I was working at Social Security was the Dragon had a lot of difficulty working in Social Security’s mainframe system. I had to stay in spell mode during applications and speak single letters or spell out each word.

Dragon also allows you to use a digital recorder after dictating a document into the digital recorder. You can simply attach it to the computer and the recorded document will be transcribed into the DragonPad. I have difficulty operating the buttons on my digital recorder so it is an option that I do not use often. The Dragon was voted the #1 dictation software in 2017 by Tech Rader. Individuals with a wide variety of disabilities can now use a personal computer.

Input Can be Whatever

Some people can’t type with their hands – so they use other parts of their body. People like Chris, use their heads to type. One person can tell the screen-reading software to read spreadsheet data aloud to her, while a paralyzed programmer can write code by controlling his computer with the subtle movement of his neck muscles. There are a lot of ways to use a computer.

The key is that the PC is a general computing device that’s adaptable to different forms of input and output. The computer doesn’t care, for instance, that the user is controlling the pointer with her feet or eye movements instead of a traditional mouse and keyboard. Touchscreens can take the place of keyboards and mice as sources of control and input. Screen readers like Jaws can assist visually impaired individuals to navigate on the In the past individuals with disabilities were dependent upon others to perform the basic work-related task. Today technology and disability are working together to make people more independent.

Technology has made life for people with disabilities easier. As the technology advances, it will just help us out even more. If you use a program or a device like Dragon Naturally Speaking that helps you to be more independent, please tell us about it in the comments below.

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