Dragon Naturally Speaking has become a mainstream software application for computer use. In the beginning it was targeted to physicians to be able to transcribe notes in an efficient manner so others could read it and also have it in an electronic format. Today Dragon is marketed to the mass public as a way to reduce time spent on the keyboard and mouse and also be faster at typing and computer operation. In the world of assistive technology, Dragon has proven to be an effective means for those that are unable to use their hands to manipulate the keyboard and mouse. The improvements that have been made in the past five years have transformed it from a usable but frustrating piece of software with mixed results to a viable option for a variety of users.
When working with individuals who are looking for computer access solutions, the topic of Dragon is many times the first place individuals think of for an answer. Even though Dragon is an option that should be explored and tried, the reality is it may not be the best choice for several reasons. Listed below are things to consider when thinking about Dragon as an assistive technology solution.
- Computer Skills: A user must have general computer knowledge to be able to use Dragon. Although an individual may be able to operate dragon they need to know what things like the Start Menu, email, and the internet are and how they function. This of course can be learned, but is needed.
- Voice: Dragon provides training of a user’s voice and is learning as a person uses the program. Clarity and pronunciation are important components to Dragon working as hoped for a user. Words that are commonly misinterpreted can be individually trained but this is only good for those few words that Dragon does not understand.
- Computer Specifications: Nuance Communications provides system requirements for the program to work. From my experience this is definitely a minimum and if the computer being used is running other programs at the same time the effectiveness may be compromised, with the result being slow operation and user frustration. The take away here is that a fast processor, maximum amount of RAM, and an updated operating system provide the best results.
- Environment: Nuance Communications makes it clear that the environment where Dragon is used should be as quiet as possible. With that being said it is very important to consider where the computer is located. If there is background noise or other sounds, Dragon will be hearing that as well.
- Writing Skills: A user will probably need to edit what has been transcribed by Dragon and if spelling, grammar, and sentence structure are troublesome, this may pose a problem.
Hopefully this has provided you with some key ideas to consider when thinking about Dragon. As always IPAT AT consultants are here to provide information, assist in the use, and provide demonstrations and trial use of Dragon Naturally Speaking and other AT computer access solutions. Let us know how we can help!