Shrinking budgets are nothing new in IT departments. Unfortunately, training budgets are one of the first to go. This leads to a situation where new software is deployed but does not yield the expected return since users are unable to utilize it fully. However, there is one way around the problem. Use speech-recognition. It is a more natural way to compute and can help automate processes by the use of macros. Moreover, it has a uniform command set that does not change with changes to the software it is driving. For instance, to copy text to the clipboard, you will say "copy that" irrespective of whether you are in notepad, Microsoft Word 2003 or Excel 2010. This has huge benefits since users can continue to use familiar commands in new user interfaces so the "how do I do this" type of queries will be significantly reduced.
Another aide in masking user interface complexity with speech-recognition is third party software in the form of command add-ons. For example, Dragon Naturally Speaking has several add-ons like Knowbrainer http://www.knowbrainer.com, VoicePower <http://www.voicepower.co.uk/ and J-Say http://www.tandt-consultancy.com/products/ss00014_j-say_professional.php. These add-ons compliment Dragon’s functionality and their developers update them as their supported software changes. Some of these add-ons like knowbrainer, even have their own scripting languages which simplify custom command creation.
Table describing the above add-ons
|Add-on||What it does||Distinguishing features|
|Knowbrainer||Contains over 10000 commands to enhance the use of Dragon Naturally Speaking across various applications.||Verbal Basic- a custom command creation language that is speech driven and a popular set of speech-recognition forums on http://www.knowbrainer.com.|
|VoicePower||Another command add-on that provides a plethora of commands for computer control.||Provides context sensitive training to users as they work.|
|J-Say||Connects a screen reader Jaws for Windows with Dragon Naturally Speaking||Several productivity commands and is the only add-on in its class.|