People often don’t realize that I use voice recognition software almost exclusively to operate my computer. Due to an injury, I’m not able to type more than a couple words without a good deal of pain in my hands and arms. So I begin my computer session by holding a book over the power button and lowering it until the computer turns on. Then, I pick up my headset microphone – think R Kelly – and start talking to my computer like a crazy person all day.

When I want it to stop recording my speech, I tell it to “Go to Sleep.” To resume, I say “Wake-Up.” More than a few of my emails have been signed “Best, Damn Cayer.” Several hasty replies have ended with “Thank You excretion point” rather than “Thank You!”

I moan about these misrecognitions but the truth is that I wouldn’t be able to use a computer without speech recognition. Furthermore, it’s just a more pleasant experience to sit back in my chair or even walk around the room and control my computer rather than hold my arms above the keyboard for several hours. Plus, a fast typist can do about 60 to 80 words a minute, whereas we naturally dictate speech at almost 150 words a minute.

I wanted to share my specs in case anyone is considering (or needing to) try speech recognition. It can be overwhelming to decide on programs, and then one must learn how to use them. I’m more than happy to talk to anyone who’s looking into this, whether you have pain at the computer, motor issues, or just want to be able to use your computer faster.

The main engine of my voice recognition experience is Dragon NaturallySpeaking (Professional Version 10). This is the most established and tested program out there. Most users depend on Dragon, and then include Add-ons to supplement. For me, I have used Utter Command which has an extremely thorough training system. Now, I use Knowbrainer which is free for people with disabilities, and also happens to host the largest speech recognition forum on the Internet.

And if anyone wants to get geeky and learn about my computer (had it built for speech recognition), microphone or other ergonomic questions, just send me an email.

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