MelissaMelissa is a charming and talkative “Dragon Tamer”, using speech-to-text technology to complete her Grade 9 assignments. While she is on her way now using Dragon Naturally Speaking for her classwork, it hasn’t always been that easy.

Melissa and her team had tried valiantly, if not very successfully to have version 10 of Dragon Naturally Speaking to accurately transcribe her speech. Some days the program was reasonably accurate but on other days, particularly if Melissa was feeling tired, the transcription errors were frequent and frustrating. Her team considered conducting a trial of a one-handed typing program but because Melissa struggles with overflow movements, she quickly tires when typing so this solution did not look promising either.

In early November of this school year, SET-BC upgraded her Dragon Naturally Speaking program from version 10 to version 11. Only a couple of weeks after that upgrade had been installed, her Learning Support Teacher, Donna, was reporting that “the new version of Dragon is awesome.” When her SET-BC consultant, Bruce Fraser, went to visit Melissa in early December, he was excited to see her and her support worker, Joyce, using Dragon Naturally Speaking with Microsoft Word, Kurzweil 3000 and Google.

The team was absolutely delighted with how well it was working. Joyce reported at that time that training the new Dragon version was very easy; it had taken only a few minutes for the program to accurately recognize Melissa’s speech.

Since then, the transcription practice sessions have gone very smoothly. The team is now planning on how to support Melissa using her laptop and speech-to-text software in regular Grade 9 classrooms to complete written assignments. While her team acknowledges that they are still in the early days of implementing the new version of the software, it certainly has been a very exciting turn of events. Melissa, like most Grade 9 girls, has a great deal to say and her new Dragon Naturally Speaking is a more promising avenue to help reduce her dependence on a scribe and independently get her thoughts out to the world.

View Video - Melissa: The Girl Who Tamed a Dragon

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