Summer Progress on Dragon Naturally Speaking

It's hard to believe that school has been out for over three weeks, it seems like we just finished! During that time we've been working on Dragon Naturally Speaking 9 Preferred every few days. I got really lucky and found it brand new on for $139.99 plus free shipping, and a rebate if you have an older version of Dragon. I don't, but I'm going to get one used for under $20 and mail in the $50 rebate still saving another $30. What a wonderful deal!!!

We've been making great progress using tips that Jim at iCater has given us as well as our AEA OT's feedback. Some of the things that seem to be helping the most are making sure Bug speaks slowly, having a USB microphone, and training missed words about 7 times before attempting them again. I find this helps because it allows for variances in Bug's speaking patterns. We also have a separate morning and evening profile, as she seems to speak much more clearly in the morning. Our OT suggested at our last visit that we do a volume test each time we use the program so we're going to start doing that too.

Another tip is creating a folder full of documents that have commonly used vocabulary. For an adult you wouldn't need this as much (I wouldn't think) as Dragon scans your computer and e-mail for commonly used words. For Bug, she isn't the one using my computer and she's only 7, so I made the folder and went online and searched for "commonly used 3rd grade words" then 3rd grade spelling words, and finally vocabulary. After than I went backwards and looked up second grade, first grade, and kindergarten. When I get a little more time I'll do forth grade as well. By filling a folder with those words and pointing Dragon Naturally Speaking to it we're hoping it will help it learn Bug's words more quickly. So far so good!

Before Dragon arrived our OT had Bug practice reading sentences into a tape recorder. She would then play it back so Bug could hear and decide if she was doing a good job speaking clearly, too loudly, etc. It was a great exercise and I highly recommend it for anyone who might be thinking of working with their child on voice recognition software. We also had the most success and interest when we made a sheet of sentences about Bug - what she liked, funny things about her brother, etc. She enjoyed reading them and I think that helped keep her enthused while we have been working some of these glitches out.

What we've been working on lately to help train the program have her read stories to it. Currently after she reads I go back an edit the file, save it, and save her user profile. As she gets more accustomed to the program we hope to have her do the editing with voice commands. But first it has to know her voice better. :)

While we still have a long road ahead of us, it is really promising. Dragon Naturally Speaking is understanding her when she uses the tricks we've taught her, and it isn't doing a lot of jibber jabber like when we first tested it. If we can keep her interested and happy training the program (and training her way of speaking to the program) I think this will be a wonderful tool that she'll be able to use on her own before too long. This could be a great tool for other kids with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome or other arthritic conditions that effect their fingers or hands. It just takes time and patience!