How students with dyslexia are spelling out success with speech recognition technology. Mark Geremia, vice president and general manager for Dragon Professional and Consumer, explains.
Studies found that, on average, three children in every classroom are dyslexic and struggle with literacy - which equates to around 1.2 million children that find reading and writing in lessons more difficult than most. Despite their challenges, those students face jumping through the same educational hoops as their peers, which could impact on their psychological well-being. However, it is encouraging that, through recent in-depth studies and research, advances have been made to understand dyslexia more clearly, rather than accepting out-dated misconceptions about what it is and what support should be provided for it. This new awareness makes way for a focus on how it affects individuals differently and what needs to be done to provide them with the right amount of support throughout their time in education.
A technological path to success
With tools like touch screen projectors, tablets, and speech recognition technology available in the classroom, students with dyslexia have an opportunity to excel in learning situations that could have felt daunting before. Speech recognition solutions – like Nuance Communications’ family of Dragon solutions for the PC and Mac - offer a myriad of benefitsover using the keyboard and mouse. Dragon helps those who find it difficult to get thoughts down onto paper, by giving them the ability to articulate ideas through their speech; this provides a much more creative and fluid writing experience. Instead of typing, users of Dragon can simply speak and watch as their thoughts appear as words on the screen while they dictate.
Because high recognition accuracy is the foundation on which today’s speech recognition solutions are built, users have no need to worry about how the words are spelled. The vocabulary in these intelligent systems is very expansive and delivers recognition accuracy of up to 99%. Speech recognition isn’t new of course, and today it can be found in our Smartphones, cars, mobile banking applications and even in healthcare, and the technology is fast becoming the core interface to a growing number of digital assistants.
Advancing academic confidence
In 2018, we’re lucky that we now find that many universities across the UK will readily provide technology to support their dyslexic students. The Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) provides special equipment, such as laptops with Dragon speech recognition installed, in order to dictate to their laptops. One example of how speech recognition software has been implemented successfully is illustrated by UEA student Amy Firth, who explained: “When I got into university, I applied for DSA and finally felt I was getting the right type of help, with software like Dragon speech recognition installed on my laptop and other technology designed to help me with essays. It was also important that the solution was something I could use alone in my room because, in the moments where I feel I do need help, I want it to be autonomous.”
Going through the education system with a learning difficulty can be alienating, and for people like Amy, having the capability to work through things on their own terms with software that adapts to them the more they use it, makes getting the help they need not only less daunting, but stops them from feeling isolated from the rest of their peers. Today, Amy and other user’s can benefit from Dragon’s high accuracy rates, with the ability to transcribe at up to 160 words per minute, meaning the conversion of thoughts into words, speech to screen, is now easier and quicker than ever before.
Harnessing students potential
Evie Bruton, a Dragon user and University student who suffers from dyslexia, explained her experiences: “Dragon made getting my thoughts onto paper so much easier, it got used to my voice and became more accurate the more I used it, plus it cut the time I was taking to write essays by at least half; it changed the way I worked at University.” It is this free-flowing of ideas that speech recognition offers the user and with the ability to playback dictated content, editing becomes easier still, where users can ask Dragon to playback their dictated text and edit, making for faster and more efficient proofreading.