Speech recognition software for accents
October 10, 2017 3:24 PM   Subscribe

Is speech recognition software worth it these days for someone with a strong accent?

I have RSI pain in my hand and I can't let up on the writing. I also have a heavy Southern accent. Obviously I can and do enunciate and flatten words, but even so I've found the Windows dictation option useless. The iOS option is better, but still only suitable for simple texts and emails. Plus, I would like to be able to give commands.

Is Dragon worth it? It's a big chunk of change and an investment in time to learn, so I would want to be able to use it productively without constantly thinking about how I am speaking. Would it work? What about another software that would work with Windows? Would I need to buy a headset mike?
posted by Countess Elena to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I work in healthcare and deal with radiologists dictating reports on a daily basis some of whom speak so quickly and with such heavy accents (think first generation Chinese, Indian or Spanish) that I don't even know what they're saying half the time. The Nuance dictation software that is used (PowerScribe 360) has different voice profiles that learn and pick up words much better than my ears do.

That said, the software used is for the enterprise and the radiologists are using a handheld mic or headset. I imagine the retail customer version has a lot of the capabilities but I can't say for sure because I haven't used it. I can't seem to find trial versions to download but a 30-day money back guarantee may work for you. I would call them and ask if you want to be 100% sure.
posted by eatcake at 3:59 PM on October 10, 2017

Download a trial version, follow the instructions to create a 'profile', and then start dictating. You may have to do a bit of correcting while 'training' it. I use Nuance's Dragon Pro. Given it is an American product, I would be amazed if it couldn't handle a southern USA accent. There may be others, but I have used Dragon for 20-25 years now, and haven't felt the need to shop around.
posted by GeeEmm at 1:04 AM on October 11, 2017

My son has a significant articulation defect. Speech recognition software works with him perfectly. He has used talk-to-type in Google Docs (works only in the Chrome browser), and Apple speech recognition (on iOS and Macintosh).

It's possible that speech recognition isn't working well for you because you are trying too hard. Modern speech recognition utilizes context as much as the sound waves of individual words. So you want to speak fluently and naturally, in complete sentences when possible. Don't try to stretch out words, and don't speak words individually and robotically.

It's possible that Dragon will do a significantly better job than what's out there for Windows, Apple, and Google, but I'd first play around more with the free options before stepping up to that.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 6:27 AM on October 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Came back to add: Nuance say a quality microphone makes a difference. Whatever you try, read the Dragon tips for using the software, they should help you with whatever you are using.
posted by GeeEmm at 1:00 PM on October 11, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks, guys! I'll pick up another mike, for certain. I do tend to speak a lot more softly and quickly than I know --
posted by Countess Elena at 5:47 PM on October 11, 2017

Response by poster: Just for future reference of someone who might be searching for an answer to this question themselves, I wanted to add that I did get Dragon Naturally Speaking and so far I am pleased with it. It does in fact have a specific option for a "southern US" accent; you select that when you install software. Obviously, it is not perfect, particularly in web navigation. But I am still learning it, and I do not mind using my hands sometimes to scroll and make corrections, because it has given me the option to use my hands so much less that I am already feeling some relief. It might not be the option for someone who completely lacks use of their hands for physical or logistical reasons, but Nuance offers technical and professional varieties of the software that might do that.

(I ended up not getting a headset mic yet. It works usably well without one but YMMV.)
posted by Countess Elena at 9:55 AM on October 18, 2017

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