by Pinalben “Pinky” Patel
How can a man-made program get what I’m saying? Because of my ragdoll-creating muscle disease, Friedreich’s Ataxia, I was used to dictating to people for typing, and sometimes even they had a difficult time understanding me. But after graduating from high school in 2003, vocational rehabilitation bought Dragon NaturallySpeaking for me. They said it is the best speech recognition software for my situation once I trained it to recognize my voice.
In my junior year at college, I changed my major from creative writing to journalism. Even though I began writing non-fiction reports instead of fictional stories, Dragon NaturallySpeaking never changed its way of helping me to turn in my assignments on time. Today, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, I am a freelance writer with the help of Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
Since I am not able to write with a pen at all, Dragon NaturallySpeaking also helps me fill out online applications for scholarship, job or volunteer opportunities. I have a lot of pen pals on the Internet from around the world, and telecommunicating with them is not an option even with the flat rate phone line at home. I love chatting and corresponding through email using Dragon because I feel like I am having a conversation with them.
As my disability degenerated, reading large amounts of text on the computer screen became harder for me. At those times, I use the “Read That” feature of Dragon. All I do is highlight the text I want to read on the web browser and then copy it to Dragonpad, Dragon dictation box, or Microsoft Word. Once it is copied, I highlight the text again and say “Read That” or select it on the Dragon toolbar. This great feature reads the text for me while I listen.
The new version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking is compatible with almost every program I use on my Windows laptop. Of course, I have to do many corrections when I write even two lines or I sound insane, but it lets me type faster than I would by hand. Dragon is helping me write the next great American novel, too. With this progressive disease, it is actually my only form of communication nowadays – thanks, Dragon!