I have seen Speech to Text transform the world for students who have difficulty communicating in writing.
I Tried Speech To Text and It Didn’t Work!
A few years ago, I was at an airport dealing with a flight delay. I had been on the road for a week and, consequently, I was far behind in answering my emails. I decided to take the opportunity to answer emails with my phone while waiting to board the plane. I do not type into my phone as I find that process torturously slow. I used the speech to text function via the microphone to respond to text messages and answer email.
I stood off to the side for quite some time answering emails, one after the other. I felt like I was making some great progress. After about a half an hour, an older gentleman came up to me and asked, “What are you doing? A group of us have been listening to you speak to your phone for the past half hour. We are all trying to figure out what you are doing. You speak robot very well.”
I laughed and explained that I was answering my email using speech to text on my phone. I figured out that in order to make speech to text work I have to enunciate clearly and speak like a robot.
My AHA Moment from an Eavesdropper’s Comment on My “Speech to Text”
It was at that point that I had an AHA moment. I’ve heard so many parents and teachers express frustration that youth who could benefit from speech to text. When I suggested it as a solution, they would say, “I tried speech-to-text, and it didn’t work!” They could not make it work because of poor enunciation, stuttering, regional accents, or talking too fast.
Solution: Most youth have heard or seen robots on TV. They know how a robot speaks. If we could teach youth to speak into the microphone on their phone or iPad or Dragon Speak Professionally as if they were a robot, speech-to-text might work for them. That said, I had a Speech and Language Pathologist express concern about my suggestion to teach students to emulate robotic speech when they spend so much energy teaching youth to *not* speak like a robot. Certainly, use your professional judgement here. You might say instead, some people talk with a southern accent. Some talk with a British accent. Some talk with a (fill in the blank depending on your location) accent. SIRI talks with computer accent. So that your “computer” device understands you, you must speak in a “computer accent”. The key is, most youth can relate to that explanation better than simply telling them to “speak more slowly and enunciate.” Why? Because they can’t relate to what that that sounds like.
So, I would love for you to try this strategy with your students and get back to me to let me know if it works. Can your students speak like a robot and make speech to text work?
Please share in the comment field!
On another note, have you ever wanted to write a book but the idea of sitting at a word-processor is torture? Possibly, you were taught that you could not write well enough? Maybe you can’t spell (Speech to text corrects most spelling). If you have a book in you craving to “GET OUT” check out our upcoming Story Retreat. Yes, you CAN write a book!”
For more information about using technology to strengthen instruction, see Susan Fitzell’s book, Using iPads and Other Cutting Edge Technology to Strengthen Your Instruction.