Matt is one of the first SET-BC students to successfully use Dragon Naturally Speaking, to complete high school. Supported by SET-BC since grade 8, he tried many technologies to help him meet the challenges of blindness and quadriplegia. The list includes a wide variety of switches and mounting systems, and software for his Toshiba laptop: Calcuscan, Mathtalk, Scientific Notebook, JSay, Jaws, and Dragon Naturally Speaking.
Matt’s a very academic student with a tremendous memory, self-discipline and perseverance, and his school team, student services teacher Margo Reinders, and Educational Assistant, Lori Russell, were determined to find solutions that would enable him to achieve his academic potential.
Learning to use Dragon Naturally Speaking was a process that required the most time and perseverance, but Matt is satisfied with the results. “After a few months [of training] it was writing everything I said almost perfectly,” he says. Lori confirms that it took effort to master the dragon, “If you’re good at making corrections, and consistent, it learns your voice quickly.” Even so, Dragon did not provide everything Matt needed to operate his laptop with relative independence because it did not give him enough auditory information about what else was on the screen.
After researching possible solutions, Lori requested that SETBC provide JSAY Pro, which allows the user to use voice commands with Jaws or to interrogate the computer screen to find out the current location by asking “where am I?” With a bit of troubleshooting, Lori and Matt learned how to make the three software programs work smoothly together.
Matt’s drive to succeed, having access to the most current technology, and the school team’s willingness to make it work made it possible for Matt to complete high school with a level of independence not possible a decade ago. His academic career continues in September 2010 at the College of the Rockies, where he is already enrolled in sports literature (he’s a loyal Canucks fan), prose fiction, psychology, and business and technical writing. His heart is set on a writing career, with science fiction his favourite genre, so watch out for his first book!