Guest blog - Speech recognition: dealing with the problems

by Rhodri Buttrick on 21 May 2010

The main problem with speech recognition is that although many charities are advising dyslexics to use the software, it does not specifically cater for a dyslexic market. As far as I can tell, the program is aimed at the office worker market.

When you first install your speech recognition software you need to complete the training process. This involves reading extracts form books into the machine. I was nine at the time and, being severely dyslexic, I could barely read. The training text is displayed on a very small panel and you are unable to increase the size of the font. My reading was so poor that the only way I could struggle through the training process was to have my mother or father whisper a sentence into my ear for me to repeat back into my microphone. As you can imagine this took hours.

There is also the issue that speech recognition is actually quite a bizarre skill and is very different from dictating to a human being. Speech Recognition can only write down what it hears, so if you slur your words or leave some out altogether, then you are going to have accuracy problems. However this doesn’t mean you have to speak like the Queen, as long as your pronunciation and diction is consistent, the software will grow used to the way you speak.

Another problem is that many people give up on speech recognition because they don’t get into good habits. This is perfectly understandable that if no one had explained to me what these habits involved, I would not be able to follow them. A vital good habit is using the “correct that” feature. If you find a word is consistently appearing wrong you can use the “correct” function to type in what the word is meant to be. This way the software continuously learns thus making the recognition even better.

One final note. With speech recognition being advised as a key way to increase accessibility in schools and universities, it is important to remember that it is not a fix all solution. It may have been the right approach for me but you must consider very carefully after trying it whether it is really the right method for you.

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