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About Spotlight on Voice Recognition

"Like all technology, voice recognition is not a panacea, and those who believe it to be 'the answer' for everybody (or even anybody) without taking a hard look at its limitations are being just as foolish as those who dismiss it without considering its potential benefits."

Tyler Carpenter, Engineer
Dragon Systems

This spotlight series, sponsored by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), offers you an opportunity to build knowledge and understanding of "hot topics" in the field of special education and technology. We have chosen voice recognition technology (also known as speech recognition or voice input) for our first spotlight because it continues to generate heated discussions on NCIPnet, our online discussion forum. Voice recognition enables users to control their computers through speech.

Originally developed for a variety of business applications, voice recognition technology is now widely marketed as a tool to ease the "paper work" in various professions, such as medicine or law. Beyond that, voice recognition has generated great interest in the disability community as an alternative way for people with significant motor impairments-for example, spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy, or cerebral palsy-to access a wide range of computer applications. Recently, educators have been exploring whether voice recognition is a viable alternative for learning disabled students who have great difficulty with writing and learning to use the keyboard. This spotlight primarily focuses on the use of voice recognition among adolescents who experience writing difficulties.

Voice recognition has great potential for some students with disabilities, but, as Tyler Carpenter suggests, it's important for students, families, and educators to take a "hard look" at the ins and outs of this technology. To help you do that, we have asked Dr. Bob Follansbee, an expert in assistive technology from Children's Hospital in Boston, to answer a series of relevant questions on each of four topics pertaining to voice recognition: fundamentals, potential users, training, and implementation.

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