What is it?
Voice-to-text software, also known as speech recognition software, is a type of software that allows users to convert speech into text or commands, removing the mechanics of typing and spelling.
Standard computer input devices are keyboards made for typists who use two hands and ten fingers; speech recognition software is made for computer users with a variety of limitations, including individuals with no hand or finger movement.
How does it help?
Individuals with physical, cognitive, sensory, and learning impairments may have difficulty accessing computers. Traditionally, a computer user accesses a computer with a standard point-and-click mouse and a QWERTY keyboard. Individuals with physical, sensory, or developmental limitations may not be able to use these standard input devices effectively and may benefit from using speech recognition.
Voice-to-text software can help employees with:
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," is a degenerative disease that prevents neurons from sending impulses to the muscles. The muscles weaken over time, impacting dexterity in operating a mouse or keyboard, and the condition may eventually affect the muscles required for breathing, resulting in death. Symptoms include slowness in either movement or speech.
Arthritis pain can interfere with the fine motor control necessary to use a keyboard or use a mouse, touchpad, or mobile device to click small links or buttons. Depending on the user's range of comfort, a user may use a trackball mouse, voice recognition software, foot pedals, or other technologies. Joint pain can cause fatigue, limiting the amount of time that the person is willing to spend on a computer maneuvering a mouse and typing on a keyboard.
Cerebral palsy is a brain injury causing decreased muscle control. The condition usually occurs during fetal development or shortly after birth. Characteristics include muscle tightness or spasms, involuntary movement, impaired speech, and occasionally paralysis.
In computer use, the condition primarily interferes with dexterity in using a mouse. Using a keyboard—or an adaptive keyboard—is still possible, albeit with some difficulty. Voice-to-text software can be very helpful for employees with cerebral palsy.
Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a genetic disorder in which the genes for muscle proteins are damaged, causing progressive degeneration of the muscles. It can affect people at any age, but is most common in children. Assistive technologies depend on the user's range of abilities, and include head wands, mouth sticks, adaptive keyboards, voice recognition software, etc.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a disorder of the central nervous system that causes uncontrollable tremors and/or rigidity in the muscles. The condition can significantly impede mouse and keyboard use. Occasionally the voice is affected as well, to the point that voice recognition software may not be an option.
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) erodes the myelin (a layer of fatty tissue which surrounds nerve fibers), blocking nerve fibers from delivering signals from the central nervous system to the muscles of the body. Effects include tremors, weakness, numbness, unstable walking, spasticity, slurred speech, muscle stiffness, impaired memory, and occasionally paralysis. Not all individuals experience all symptoms, and an individual may experience different symptoms over time. Voice-to-text software can help employees with MS at work.
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