Because educational research on the use of voice recognition technology is in its infancy, very few studies exist to date on the possible benefits of this system for students with disabilities. One promising study (Higgins & Zvi, 1995) at California State University at Northridge explored the performance of learning disabled college students using voice recognition technology to complete the university's written proficiency exam. With the use of this innovation, the learning disabled students achieved the same distribution of scores on the exam as their non disabled peers. With a human transcriber's assistance or with no assistance at all, these same learning disabled students' score distribution fell below that of their non disabled peers.
Another exploratory study (Wetzel, 1996) focused
on a single subject-a sixth grade student with learning disabilities. Wetzel
was interested in whether middle school students could learn to use a voice
recognition system, in this case IBM VoiceType, and whether this system
would enhance their communication skills. Wetzel found that the student
was able to learn to use the software, but that difficulties with the system's
recognition accuracy and the complexity of editing compromised this student's
success. This early research points to some of the difficulties in using
this technology with students who have disabilities as well as to the potential
benefits. For example, because the technology was developed with adult voice
models, the software is not as proficient at recognizing the speech of prepubescent
youth. The research also suggests that younger students may struggle to
a greater degree with the cognitive demands of composing orally while also
giving the computer oral directions.