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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Voice Recognition Software in Montgomery County Public Schools

  1. What is Voice Recognition Software?  
  2. What types of software tools can do this?
  3. How do voice recognition tools benefit struggling writers?
  4. What is the research on voice recognition
  5. What are the pros and cons of voice recognition?
  6. Which students are good candidates for voice recognition?
  7. What can you do to help a student get ready to use voice recognition?
  8. How much do these software programs cost?
  9. How do you know if voice recognition is effective for a student?
  10. Does there need to be some documentation in the IEP before a student is permitted to use voice recognition?
  11. When is voice recognition documented on the IEP?
  12. Where can my school staff get help implementing voice recognition in our school building?

What is Voice Recognition Software?          

Voice recognition (VR) is also referred to as "speech-to-text," "speech recognition" and "voice typing." In general, voice recognition tools allow individuals to speak to write.

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What types of software tools can do this?

  • Voice Typing is a feature built in to Google Docs, which is free.  You can find it in the Tools Menu.
  • Dragon Naturally Speaking is available at all secondary schools in MCPS.  Elementary schools may purchase it from the bid list.
  • SpeakQ is companion software to WordQ which allows the user to use word prediction and voice input interchangeably.

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How do voice recognition tools benefit struggling writers?

The ability to use your voice to write was once a specialized accommodation for students with writing defitcits.  Now it is ubiquitous.  Students may benefit from a quicker way to get their ideas in writing so that they can engage more deeply in revising their work.  Some students need a method that can overcome fine motor difficulties.  Others struggle with spelling to such a degree that the writing process becomes laborious.  For some, speaking to write may come more naturally, and students therefore are more motivated to engage in the writing process.

 

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What is the research on voice recognition?

Authors

Findings

Graham, 1990, Reece and Cummings 1996

Speech  recognition gets past the barrier of transcription (handwriting and spelling)

Higgins & Raskind, 1995

VR enhanced the quality of writing compared to handwriting in college students with LD.

De La Paz, 1999

VR "frees users from worrying about spelling and handwriting, but it imposes new burdens—careful speech, vocabulary building, explicit punctuation, error correction, play back and editing procedures, not to mention the initial training requirements"

MacArthur & Graham, 1991

Researchers concluded: The cognitive demands of writing mechanics interfere with fluency and the quality of writing for LD kids. General dictation [scribing] is 9 times faster than handwriting and 2 times faster than word processing. Mechanical demands interfere with written productivity.

DeLaPaz & Graham, 1997; Reece, 1992

Concluded that neither dictation [i.e., tape recording, scribing] nor [voice] recognition is sufficient by itself to offset the difficulties that persons with LD have in composing.

MacArthur & Calalier 2004

31 10th grade students achieved 85% accuracy on sentence dictation without editing and 92% accuracy with editing.

Quinlan 2004

MS students with writing problems wrote longer papers and made fewer errors using VR compared to average writers.

 

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What are the pros and cons of voice recognition?

Pros

  • Allows students to speak their text
  • Can provide some students writing independence
  • Unlike dictation to a scribe, it preserves student independence

Cons

  • High cognitive load due to multitasking: think>compose>speak> read> revise
  • It may not produce the exact text that the student intended
  • It does not replace process writing skills

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Which students are good candidates for voice recognition?

The following considerations should be kept in mind when choosing to try voice recognition:

  • Consistency of enunciation
  • Appropriate syntactical speech patterns
  • Can inhibit "Uhms," "ahhs", etc.
  • Ability to express ideas with verbal language
  • Auditory and visual attending skills
  • The ability to multitask: to think-compose-speak-read-revise
  • The ability to recognize and revise incorrect words
  • Problem solving skills
  • Frustration tolerance
  • Perseverance
  • Motivation to use an alternative method of writing
  • Self monitoring abilities

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What can you do to help a student get ready to use voice recognition?

One way to begin is by teaching the student how to use his or her voice to answer questions within digital text.  This will help students "think-compose-speak-read and revise. For example:

  • Insert sound object in MS Word (video)
  • Insert recorded voice in Inspiration (video)
  • Insert recorded sound in PowerPoint

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How much do these software programs cost?

Voice Typing in Google Docs is free as are many other speech to text apps.  See the AT Bid list for Dragon pricing for MCPS schools.

If you have a question about purchasing Dragon for your school please contact:
Linda Wilson, HIAT at 301-657-4959

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How do you know if voice recognition is effective for a student?

Voice recognition takes training and persistence. The best way to know if a student benefits from voice recognition is to set up a trial period

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Does there need to be some documentation in the IEP before a student is permitted to use voice recognition.

Any student can use voice recognition software.  However, students do need documentation on their IEP before using "Speech to Text" for testing. Students must be using VR instructionally prior to using it in a testing environment.

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When is voice recognition documented on the IEP?

Voice recognition should be indicated on the IEP when the IEP team has determined that VR  is required for access to the curriculum or to address specific IEP goals.  Document VR in the following ways:

  • On the Special Considerations and Accommodations-Assistive Technology Required page: If voice recognition has been tried and found to be successful to support writing, then you should indicate "yes," to "The student needs an AT device."  The decision to use this should be documented here.
  • On the Special Considerations and Accommodation- Instructional and Testing Accommodations page: Under Response Accommodations, Speech to Text should be selected. Note whether the student is expected to use Speech to Text for testing or only during instruction.
  • On the Special Considerations and Accommodation- Supplementary Aids, Services Program Modifications and Supports page: Clarify the location and manner in which supplementary aids will be provided, and document the discussion to support the decision.
  • If a student will be using Speech Recognition on the PARCC test, document this on the PARCC Page in OSS (applies to MCPS students).

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Where can my school staff get help implementing voice recognition in our school building?

Call or email HIAT with your questions.
Search the PDO for E-TIPS to see a list of upcoming workshops on these and other topics.

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