Tips on Teaching Speech to Text as Writing

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I have recently received an influx of students who are learning to write for professional jobs and college level papers using speech to text.  As I have been perusing as many resources as I could find to really figure out to no just to teach these clients on how to use Dragon Naturally Speak but also learn the exercises they are going to need to use to learn to write using dictation.  If any AT Trainer reading this has ever had the revelation that their client is going to have to learn the art of WRITTEN EXPRESSION while TALKING while training on Dragon or any other Speech to Text software, you will probably understand this can be a hard skill to tell your client AND then to teach.  However, I have recently come across some great resources and exercises on teaching Speech to Text as a written expression.  From my professional experiences, most of my focus has been on teaching the client to use Dragon Naturally Speaking.  However, for a client to really learn to Dragon Naturally Speaking, they are going to have to learn the art of dictation as a form of written expression just like keyboarding or handwriting.  This is another mode of written expression.  Here are a few exercises and resources I have shared on the Adapted Innovation Facebook Page and Pinterest Board as I was having this professional awakening.

Tips on Introducing a Client to Speech to Text:

1. Focus on teaching dictation before teaching written expression:  For many clients telling them that dictation is not talking came as a surprise to them.  Much like writing, in order to dictate, the client must learn to speak clearly, project and write expressively at the same time. At this stage in the training process, it is necessary for the client to focus on dictating correctly, not editing his or her text.  In order to teach the fine art of dictation, consider the following exercises:

*Have the student or client read one sentence out loud from his or her favorite magazine and then have them repeat the sentence on a different line until they dictate it with correctly.

*Reading names and phone numbers of people out of the phone book.  Again, have them repeat each name and number until they dictate it correctly.  This exercise also teaches the client about switching between Dictation Mode and Spell Mode if you work training on Dragon Naturally Speaking

*Consider having the client get used to dictating on status updates on Facebook or Twitter.

*Consider introducing the client to Speech to Text features on his or her cell phone.  Give them a challenge of only texting his or her friends via Speech to Text for a week (if they are not already doing it).

2. Consider having the client brainstorm and outline his or her thoughts before dictating.

Since we are teaching that dictation is a form of written expression style just like keyboard or a pen and paper, having our clients go through the same pre-writing procedures that they learned in school is beneficial in the training stages of using speech to text software.  AT Trainers might want to introduce the following pre-writing activities to their students and their English teachers if their is no pre-writing process or template used in the student or client’s particular class.

*Create a brainstorming list of ideas in MS Word using speech to text software

*After brainstorming, have the student outline his or her writing points using the same method his or her writing teacher would prefer. If the teacher has no preference, I would find a template online for the student to follow at this stage in the writing process.

3. Be selective on the editing skills you teach them in the Speech to Text software.

For many of my clients, they use dictation because they have dysgraphia or other learning disabilities that inhibits them from being successful using their hands to keyboard in the writing process but they still have full use of their hands.  For these clients, I recommend not teaching them to edit their grammar errors using dictation.  From my experiences, it is better for them to dictate when it is time to write and use the keyboard when they need to make corrections.  However, if you have clients that have decreasing mobility in their hands, then you are going to want to take the time to teach the editing voice commands.

Other Resources on Teaching Speech to Text:

1. Speech to Text in the Classroom PDF

2. Speech to Text as AT for Writing: An E-Book


One comment

  1. […] On Friday afternoon we went to a TUSD school down the street from the office where we got to work with a student. The teachers were looking for programs for recording the student’s thoughts, as his literacy and spelling is 5 grades below his current grade level for both. They already had Dragon dictate on a computer, and had experience with programs from Don Johnston, such as Co:writer on the computer They had difficulty using Siri on the student’s ipad. We looked at different options on the ipad together, and practiced using Siri with the teacher. We determined that most likely a lot of their problems could be helped by using the current technology more appropriately and with more training/practice. Siri tends to work well for dictation, but only when it is used correctly and with patience. Our other thought was that there was a good amount of confusion between what an ipad does as part of the apple operating system, and what apps do, and how both overlap. For example, a keyboard in an app is still probably using the apple ios defaut keyboard, as opposed to a different keyboard specific to that particular app. […]


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