Strategy

Speech-to-Text

Speech Recognition, Audio Transcribing

UDL 4.2 UDL 5.2

Speech-to-Text is an assistive technology in which students dictate their original work to a word processing program which converts the student’s speech into text on the screen, enabling students who have difficulty typing and writing by hand to produce written work more efficiently. Most word processing programs include a speech recognition feature, which teachers can access to support a wide range of student’ needs, including mild to moderate fine or visual-motor issues, more severe fine motor disabilities, severe encoding difficulties, and visual impairment. To use Speech-to-Text successfully, students must be able to articulate speech clearly and may need to control a mouse. While Speech-to-Text will enable some students to become fully independent, students with more significant disabilities may require support for some aspects of the process (e.g., editing, operating the mouse). The draw of technology combined with the ease of operation make Speech-to-Text highly motivating for students who might otherwise avoid, or be frustrated by, writing.

Implementation Tips

Preparing to Implement
Access any built in or online tutorials that illustrate the Speech-to-Text feature of the word processing program available at your school. The program’s help tab will often include options for watching or reading instructions. An online search may also yield pictorial, text or video instructions.
Developing Teacher Proficiency
Build your own comfort and mastery with the speech recognition feature of the particular word processor available at your school prior to introducing it to students. While there is overlap, each program has its own quirks. Practice by completing written assignments as if you were a student.
Student Accessibility
Ensure students are confident using a mouse or an adaptive access device (e.g., jelly bean switch, joy stick, eye gaze scanning) before attempting Speech-to-Text in order for them to navigate the technology as independently as possible.
Teaching Editing
Teach students to read the text carefully when editing. Emphasize that speech recognition technology often mixes up words that sound the same (e.g., “Bear with me” spoken may appear as “Bare with me” in text.). Advise students to double-check punctuation as it must be specified during dictation.
Engaging Students
Allow students to have fun with Speech-to-Text once they have been exposed to how it works. They can sing songs, tell jokes, or record dialogue with a friend. Enjoying their silly first projects can increase motivation for learning to navigate the technology.
Accommodating Student Needs
Specify a Speech-to-Text enabled device as an IEP accommodation for students who have demonstrated that they need it and can use it successfully. Make sure the device is available throughout the day and designate an area where the student can dictate without distracting others.
Speech-to-Text Candidates
Try Speech-to-Text only when it is clear that typing will not be successful in order to avoid discouraging capable students from developing keyboarding skills. Avoid Speech-to-Text for students that struggle with speech articulation because the software will not interpret their dictation correctly.

Examples

Adapting for Fine Motor Needs
In an upper-elementary classroom, the teacher and OT have been supporting a student with limited hand strength and coordination to type instead of writing by hand. The instructors have noticed that, while typing, the student struggles with accuracy and has difficulty consistently depressing keys with enough pressure. However, the student does have adequate hand control to use a mouse, clear speech, a strong ability to brainstorm, and understands how to edit text. The teacher and OT elect to introduce Speech-to-Text in order to decrease the motor demand for producing written output. They start by scribing the student’s graphic organizer for a short essay. Next, the student dictates the essay, with coaching, in a quiet area of the classroom. As the student develops proficiency with Speech-to-Text, the teacher and OT reduce support, granting the student more independence.
Encoding Written Work
A middle school english language arts teacher has been looking for a strategy to help a student with significant decoding and encoding difficulty produce written work. The student is frustrated and losing motivation to even attempt written assignments, despite having good ideas to write about. The teacher works independently with the student to introduce Speech-to-Text for drafting assignments. The teacher elects to initially focus on supporting the student with developing and drafting ideas. As Speech-to-Text enables the student to successfully convert ideas into a fully formed draft, the student begins to gain confidence. Once the student becomes independent dictating assignments, the teacher slowly begins to support the student in editing the drafts.
Visual Impairment Support
A middle school student has returned to school after sudden onset of visual impairment. The student does not know braille, and does not have a way to complete written assignments. The teacher of the visually impaired (TVI) works with the student and classroom teacher to introduce Speech-to-Text to be used with a word processing device that has been adapted for the visually impaired (e.g., tactile cues, auditory menus) for producing written work. The TVI also begins to teach the student braille, but because braille training is a long process, these features of word processing are used for classwork for the meantime.

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