Thursday, March 13, 2014

Using Dragon Dictate for Independence

by guest blogger Laurie Hoirup, author of I Can Dance: My Life with a Disability

Assistive Technology comes in many shapes and sizes. And,
picture of luarie with her book "i can dance" Laurie is smiling and wearing a purple jumpsuit and uses a power wheelchair
Author Laurie Hoirup
having had a significant disability since the age of two - for more than 50 years now - I have certainly used my fair share of different AT. However, none has provided me with a more complete life than Dragon Dictate, my voice-activated computer program, which I use in so many ways.

I first purchased this program back in the mid-90s when the cost was $6000 and it came on about 20 floppy disks, for those of you old enough to know what those are. Of course, now you can pick up the software from any local electronics store for the price of $79, and it comes on one CD/DVD. Regardless of its evolution, the program has always provided me with a link to independence.

Initially I used the program to write my papers for my college career and, for the first time, I didn't have to rely on someone to type for me. Though I had to use robot sounding speech, I was still able to write my own assignments
independently and I was thrilled.

As time progressed, so did the program and soon I was able to use Dragon to communicate online, search the web and a number of other things. In addition, I was soon able to speak more naturally and I couldn’t have been more pleased.

I eventually became employed and Dragon assisted me with many of my work projects. In the beginning, I was unable to use the telephone independently. But, before too long, Dragon enabled me to succeed with this as well. I was able to work for hours without the assistance of others. I never felt more self-reliant in my life. Dragon did wonders for my self-esteem.

Next, fast forward into the future and my retirement; my next goal was to write my memoir and become a resource for others with disabilities. Dragon provided me with the means to accomplish this enormous dream along with all the other previous achievements I had obtained.

Dragon is not limited to short papers or communications. In fact, my memoir was well over 95,000 words and Dragon hung in there like a trooper. We really were writing partners. I learned to put my ideas on paper at the end of whatever page I was on, and then as I found a place for those thoughts, I would just delete them from the bottom of my page. In other words, I learned to combine my outline and draft into one document.

I cannot give enough praise for this program in terms of independence. For anyone lacking mobility of their upper extremities, this is definitely the way to go to use a computer. Whether or not you are writing a long document for your job, communicating through email, surfing the web and playing games just for fun, or writing your own story, this program can make it all happen for you just by sharing your thoughts verbally. 

laurie wearign a headset and using Dragon Dictate at her desk with her computer and knick knacks around including a barbie doll in a wheelchair
Laurie using Dragon Dictate at her desk

There is a Dragon version for all types of computers. It’s affordable and easy to find. There is also a tutorial to get you started, so try it today.

Have you ever used Dragon or other voice recognition programs? What was your experience?

Lauire Hoirup is the author of the award-winning book I Can Dance: My Life With a Disability. Click here to visit her website and sign up for her blog.

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