9 Voice Recognition Software for Accessing Online Content

Heather Caprette

Voice recognition software is used primarily for hands-free operation of a computer by people with mobility impairments. It’s used for dictation to write text in place of typing. It’s also used for commanding the computer to perform tasks that would be done with a mouse or keyboard. These tasks include opening and closing applications, switching from one application to another, using the menus and options available within an application, clicking on buttons, links and other interactive elements on a web page, drag and drop, as well as other tasks. Dragon Naturally Speaking is the most popular voice recognition software, but there are others. Windows operating system has a built in tool called Speech Recognition. Mac OS X has its Enhanced Dictation tool and iOS devices have Siri.

Command mode works on the premise of see it and say it. A voice recognition user gives commands to their computer based on what they see on the screen. Later, we’ll talk about alternative text that can be placed on images or buttons. Alternative text is typically used by screen readers to help  people who are blind know what information is being conveyed by an image, but it’s also used by people using voice recognition software. Alternative text or “alt text” that is placed on a button, for example, should match text that is on a button, so that the command the user will give will match.

Dragon Naturally Speaking has features that will help with command and control when elements on a web page aren’t coded as links or buttons, or elements don’t have the proper alternative text attribute set on them. One is the “mouse grid” tool which provides a series of numbered grids on the page that progressively shrink and re-center themselves over the previously spoken number’s area. Another is telling the mouse to move up, down, left and right. There’s a demonstration of mouse grid and voice commands to move the mouse at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOSObinq7a4.

In the previous example, we saw how painfully slow it can be for voice recognition software users to navigate an improperly coded website. The technology, though, can allow for greater efficiency in navigating when alt text is set, for example. Compare by watching the next movie on following links in web pages with Dragon.

Today, Nuance, the maker of Dragon Naturally Speaking refers to their software packages by other names. These include Dragon Professional Individual, Dragon Anywhere, Dragon Legal Individual, Dragon Law Enforcement, Dragon for Medical, and Dragon Home to name a few.


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