Local lifestyle columnists

Dictation software helps give the gift of gab

By From page B10 | December 22, 2012

Most folks who read my columns must know that I am a “literacy freak.”

I believe it is essential that a person be able to read in order to realize freedoms the Creator has given to all humans. While we are able to learn in many different ways, reading is the most important means of accessing organized knowledge. History, math, literature and the like.

Most folks must be able to see in order to read. The ability to see what one has created is also an essential part of writing. I recently wrote that God had given me the gift of near blindness so that I would not forget what it is like not to be able to read. The frustration and anger that is involved. But if you are willing to adapt and find other means, God can lead you to help.

So it has been with me. As my sight worsened I began to see double, even with the strongest (6X) of my reading glasses. Friends and family started telling me about a computer program called Dragon. The program allows you to speak and converts speech into print and do it well.

I looked at my computer screen and saw the Dragon program on sale for about one-third the regular selling price so I bought it. I haven’t received it yet, but I am satisfied I can make it work for me. I am a copious maker of notes. I use a felt tip pen and write or print BIG. But if I don’t convert those notes very quickly, I am unable to read them. So many wonderful ideas are lost. Now, I will be able to talk to my computer and it will store or print my notes legibly for me. I can even review and edit them. The potential for me is staggering.

I have a book or two in my head. Now I can “write” the books verbally. That won’t make the books any better, but it will help me make them. As a sort of coincidence, Susan Winlow, the features editor at the Daily Republic, has been suffering from a torn rotator cuff. The injury makes it almost impossible to use that arm for anything, including typing. The major role of an editor involves modifying text, usually by typing. The Daily Republic ordered her a Dragon program. She will be able to edit (and write) verbally. She’ll be able to do it faster and without hurting her rotator cuff. Voilà! We have agreed to share our successes and failures and learn from each other.

The Nuance company makes Dragon. I have not seen anywhere in their advertising any reference to serving folks with any kind of handicap. People with vision problems like me or physical limitations like Susan. I have to wonder how many people out there enjoy communicating with friends but are unable to do it easily and effectively. Physical or visual problems make it too difficult. My nephew stopped using the computer after a stroke. There is nothing wrong with his voice.

By the way, you don’t have to be an author to use Dragon. You can use it to create and edit emails and simple stuff like that. Send messages to folks who can read but can’t hear. No, we’re not being paid by the Nuance people. But I will keep you posted on how easy (or hard) it is to use and what it can be used for. Interested?

Murray Bass can be reached at 427-0744 or [email protected]

Murray Bass


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