With speech and voice recognition software like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa becoming a larger part of our technological interactions, optimizing user experience is at the forefront of developing and improving this type of technology. Struggling to get good results with this technology can be frustrating, especially for those who speak with an accent, stutter, or are affected by a speech disorder or impairment. However, this technology is improving all the time and there are some things you can do to improve the results of speech recognition technology.
What is Speech Recognition?
Speech recognition (also referred to as speech recognition technology) is a type of dictation software that enables a program to receive, recognize, and understand words as they are spoken by a human. Through the use of natural language as triggers of a specific action, this technology enables devices to respond to our spoken commands or requests.
This technology first premiered in 1936 with the invention of the first speech-to-text device. In today’s world, speech recognition technology can take on many functions, from dictating text messages when driving or otherwise unable to text, to requesting a device to play a specific song or make dinner reservations. The ability to communicate with our devices has expanded over the past few decades and extends to the large majority of the technology that we use on a day-to-day basis.
While this software is getting better all the time, it still has some flaws and challenges. In some cases, this technology can be incredibly helpful for those affected by a disability or mobility issue. However, speech recognition technology often struggles to recognize or understand certain voices, accents, or speech impediments, making it less accessible for those with communication challenges. As more and more of the world make the move online, digital accessibility has become more important than ever.
What are the Benefits of Speech Recognition?
Speed – Most people are able to speak more quickly than they can write. In this case, speech recognition can be an incredibly useful way to speed up a particular task and reduce wasted time.
Hands-Free – One of the most beneficial aspects of this technology is the ability to use it without the use of your hands. This can be helpful for a wide variety of reasons, especially for those who are visually or hearing-impaired, and is one of the main reasons this technology is recognized as a great step forward in terms of technological accessibility.
An Important Skill Set – Learning to effectively and efficiently use speech recognition technology is considered an incredibly valuable skill set. In this rapidly growing industry, being fluent in the use of these types of software is key in unlocking new and innovative methods of communication.
What are the Potential Frustrations or Issues related to using Speech Recognition?
In some cases, struggles and frustrations with speech recognition technology are related to software or hardware issues such as an under-responsive trigger (Hey Siri! for example,) poor internet connection, defective equipment, or excessive background noise.
Sometimes, subpar results or a negative user experience is due to the voice recognition software not recognizing or understanding the user. While this technology is constantly changing, at this point it will not tolerate such things as sudden changes of mind/train of thought or indecisiveness about word use. In fact, voice recognition technology is not good with imprecise or imperfect speech in general. For people who may stutter when they speak, for instance, this technology can be a source of great frustration. This also means that people who speak with a strong accent or have a speech impairment or impediment may struggle to use voice recognition technology successfully as well.
It is also important to note that speech recognition technology was not designed with children in mind. Children have totally different speech patterns and their language structures can vary widely. At this point in time, this technology is not effective at interacting with and understanding young children.
Tips/Tricks How to Optimize User Experience
Many people find that their results with speech recognition are inconsistent; meaning sometimes the software works effectively and other times it completely fails to identify their speech correctly. While this can be frustrating it does mean that success is possible, and with a little patience and strategy, you can succeed every time. Some things you can do to achieve the best results possible are:
Get Set Up – The first and most important step when it comes to using speech recognition is to make sure your microphone and device are in good working order, that you have a strong internet connection, and have ruled out background noise or other sound quality causes. Using a program that is capable of reading text back to the user can be very helpful. There is currently a need for error correction and the ability to monitor misrecognized words within this technology.
Articulation & Phonology – This refers to the ability to speak clearly and concisely, as well as work with and recognize sounds in spoken language. When it comes to using speech recognition technology, paying close attention to the letter sounds, syllables and word combinations you wish to communicate with the device is very important.
Speaking Slowly – When working with speech recognition software, slowing down your speech to slightly slower than your usual conversational pace can result in a more successful user experience. It is important to avoid hesitating and to be clear on what you want to say before you begin speaking. Don’t rush – pause and allow yourself time to get your thoughts together. In most cases, slowing down and taking time to collect your thoughts before speaking will actually help you to accomplish your task in less time.
Volume and Tone – While it may be tempting to speak very loudly or even shout, this will not help to improve speech recognition results. Speak clearly and in your normal tone, paying special attention to annunciation and proper pronunciation as best you can.
Don’t give up, there is hope! – Learning to effectively and efficiently use speech recognition technology is a skill just like any other and requires some specific techniques and concentration. With some strategy and practice, you can master the skills required to use this technology and benefit from all it can offer.
How can Virtual Speech Therapy help?
Virtual speech therapy exists to help people establish and strengthen communication skills in all areas of their lives. Virtual speech therapy can be very beneficial for those who may be struggling with accessibility or mobility and want to use speech recognition software as a tool that can help to increase independence. In general, virtual speech therapy is designed to help people learn to speak clearly and communicate effectively, by providing support and guidance on the road to developing strong speech and language skills.
If you or a loved one is struggling to communicate clearly or effectively or would like to learn more about how to optimize your experience with speech recognition technology, connect with one of our highly experienced and specialized speech-language pathologists by scheduling your free introductory call today!