Monday, March 8, 2010

Dragon vs. SpeakQ part 2

This is a repeat of what I posted on the AT in Education group on
Karen Vitek had asked if Dragon was still the gold standard in Voice Recognition and whether it was appropriate for younger students.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking is absolutely the most accurate and most powerful voice recognition software on the market. It can be effective with younger students, especially if you definition of younger is ages 11-14.

There is another program to consider, called SpeakQ. It is actually a plug-in for WordQ word prediction software ( Since it uses the Microsoft voice recognition engine, its accuracy varies from individual to individual, so be sure to use the 30-day trial before you buy. The beauty of SpeakQ is its simplicity.

Dragon was designed for and is marketed to the business person, the medical professional, and the legal professional; it assumes a high degree of literacy skill in the user. SpeakQ, on the other hand, was designed with special needs students in mind.

There are two main differences between the user experience of DNS versus SpeakQ:

(1) The voice training process in SpeakQ uses a speech synthesizer to prompt the user, who listens to and repeats the training text a few words at a time. This is useful when the user has reading difficulties. Dragon does not do this.

(2) SpeakQ offers instant voice feedback of its recognition, so for the user with reading difficulties, it's clear whether or not the software recognized the voice accurately. It lists the different possibilities of what it "thinks" was said and the user can hear the different choices before selecting. For example if I say, "Ice cream," there might be a list with "Ice cream", "I scream" and "I screamed", and I can hover the mouse over those 3 choices to hear them before I click and select the one I actually said.

SpeakQ does not work for commanding your computer the way Dragon does. With Dragon you can open other programs, click menu items, etc., with your voice.

I recommend SpeakQ (if it works OK with the individual's voice) for students with weaker reading skills, weaker computer skills, or students who are cognitively not ready for the complexities of using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I recommend DNS for students who can handle the reading and the complexity, students with speech impediments, foreign accents, or physical impairments that require them to have voice control over the Windows environment. 

I have to mention that my experience with SpeakQ is based on using it under Windows XP. Since the voice recognition engine is Microsoft's own, the version of Windows makes a big difference. I've been told that running SpeakQ under Windows 7 greatly improves the recognition abilities, so if you've got Windows 7, the playing field between Dragon and SpeakQ is a little more level. Ultimately, I suggest the 30-day trial version of SpeakQ, because you will know for sure how well the software is going to work with your voice.

1 comment:

  1. Very clear description, and yes, SpeakQ not intended as the 'juvenile' alternative but something for those who cannot manage Dragon for whatever reason ( eg reading, dictation). I'ts SIMPLER, but not simplistic


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