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Voice Recognition Troubleshooting

Knowledge Base

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Q. There is a lot of information here? How do I do a search for what I want?
Q. Can't read, can't write? Can speech recognition help?
Q. I have heard that voice recognition systems are susceptible to background noise. What can I do about this?
Q. What level of accuracy can I expect from voice recognition?
Q. Can young children use voice recognition systems?
Q. Do I need support and training? If so, what is available?
Q. I have a group of users, some of whom simply do not seem to be able to cope with speech recognition. What can I do about this?
Q. Do I qualify for an upgrade if I discover a fault in a program?
Q. Can a person with speaking difficulties or a strong accent use speech recognition?
Q. I understand that it is no longer necessary to enroll on a speech recognition system. Is this true?
Q. Can those with dysarthric speech use voice recognition systems?
Q. Is DragonDictate still available?
Q. How does Vista's voice recognition compare with Dragon?
Q. What is the recommended PC specification to use ScreenSpeaker and SpeechMaster products?
Q. What is the difference between KeyStone ScreenSpeaker and KeyStone SpeechMaster?
Q. Why is a microphone not included in the KeyStone SpeechMaster pack?
Q. I understand that some users, particularly dyslexics, may have difficulty in speaking in continuous mode. What can be done about this?
Q. How can a large group of users access KeyStone ScreenSpeaker or KeyStone SpeechMaster?
Q. I have heard that some people have great difficulty in enrolling on speech systems. If this is true, can anything be done?
Q. Do I need to purchase a voice recognition system if I have the MS Vista operating system?
Q. Can I upgrade my existing KeyStone SpeechMaster system to run on the Vista operating system?
Q. How good is the new Vista voice recognition system?
Q. If I already have a version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking can I use it with ScreenSpeaker and if so, will it work in the same way as SpeechMaster?
Q. What do I gain by obtaining DNS Preferred instead of Professional?
Q. I have a group of users, all of whom need to use SpeechMaster. Do I need a licence for each user?
Q. I have used a dictation machine for years. Will I be able to use SpeechMaster in the same way?
Q. I understand that Keystone Roamer enables voice files to be automatically managed on a network. However, I understand that DNS already has this function. Why should I need Keystone Roamer?
Q. I often hear about "enrolment" and "training" of speech system. What do these terms mean?
Q. What exactly is KeyStone ScreenSpeaker?
Q. I believe discrete speech systems had been around much longer than continuous systems. Are they therefore more accurate and more stable in computer terms?
Q. I understand that I can speak text into the DNS document window (DragonPad) when using SpeechMaster instead of using Microsoft Word. What are the benefits and disadvantages of this?
Q. What is meant by "continuous" and "discrete" speech recognition?
Q. What problems might I experience if I do not use the recommended specification of PC to use SpeechMaster?
Q. Is there anything I can do to speed up the operation of SpeechMaster and make it more accurate with the given machine specification?
Full Knowledge Base...
Q. There is a lot of information here? How do I do a search for what I want?
A. The information is provided as a complete list of questions ranked in descending order of the importance that we think they are to our customers.

To allow you to search quickly for what you need, use the "search" field shown above. Type a word or phrase that you want information on. Only relevant FAQ entries will then be listed, rather than the whole list.

You can click on items in bold italics to obtain further detailed information within our extensive information database.
Q. Can't read, can't write? Can speech recognition help?
A. Yes, speech recognition has assisted thousands of people who have been unable to read or write. The technology has been available for twenty years, yet many people have heard about it.

WordsWorldwide is a specialist company writing programs and providing services especially for people with these difficulties.
Q. I have heard that voice recognition systems are susceptible to background noise. What can I do about this?
A. If you are using a noise-cancelling microphone, problems with voice recognition are much more likely to be due to other factors than background noise. Difficulties are frequently wrongly blamed on background noise and given as reasons for abandoning the use of voice recognition.

Interference from electrical equipment within the computer may well be confused with the effects of background noise, especially if you are using a laptop. To reduce this you can try using an audio-USB adapter to convert a normal audio signal to a digital (USB)  signal.

A PowerPoint presentation is available on this web site to assist in trouble-shooting background noise problems problems. 

If you are experiencing difficulties and you are entitled to technical support , these can be resolved through contacting Words Worldwide.
Q. What level of accuracy can I expect from voice recognition?
A. Dragon NaturallySpeaking and Vista's voice recognition system will provide recognition accuracy between 95% to 99% from the outset, depending on the level of previous experience that the user has in using recognition technology. As a user continues to correct errors, accuracy rate increases steadily.

Younger speakers, people who do not have English as their first language and those with a halting dictation style may experience accuracy below 90%. However, if accuracy levels fall significantly below 85%, even in the early stages, problems with equipment or the recognition system itself should be suspected.

It should be remembered that correcting errors is very much easier when using voice recognition to carry out the correction process than searching for and correcting typing errors in the conventional manner.

Most users of DragonDictate have some degree of speaking difficulty. In these cases, accuracy levels are nearer 85% on average and young users or those with difficulties in speech production may experience initial levels below 75%. However, this usually represents a very considerable improvement on their achievements with typing.
Q. Can young children use voice recognition systems?
A. Yes.

Developments in speech recognition technology over the last few years have allowed children with ages as low as three years to dictate successfully.

For practical purposes, a minimum age of five years can be taken as a reasonable guide.

However, it is not advisable to dispense with the short, intensive enrolment phase when introducing the technology. This is especially important if the child has a quiet or immature speaking voice.

If the enrolment phase is pursued, a few children will still find it impossible to complete it for technical reasons. The program will simply not enable completion of the enrolment, even if the "skip" facility is extensively used.

Also, in isolated cases, even a successfully completed enrolment may prove insifficient.

In such cases, support from SpeechTutor allows excellent results to be obtained. All aspects of using voice recognition can be addressed with the program, from general familiarisation with the techniques to the production of accurate text, using available commands.
Q. Do I need support and training? If so, what is available?
A. Sufficient telephone and e-mail support is provided free with each product to enable a person with reasonable computer knowledge to install and operate the software satisfactorily. Those who have limited computer knowledge, especially those using Dragon NaturallySpeaking and who have no experience with voice recognition, are strongly recommended to obtain an annual support agreement.

At least one day's training is recommended, especially to those who are managing a group of users, for example at a school or college. Whereas a single user may be able to cope with limited knowledge and experience, a person responsible for number of users will find this inadequacy taxing and it will lead to reduced confidence and inefficiency amongst the user group.

Group trainings can be arranged by negotiation where suitable equipment can be provided at the trainees' cost at the training site; per capita rates will be considerably reduced. Training at reduced oddslot rates can also be provided at a site nominated by Words Worldwide.

Free telephone hotline support for ScreenSpeaker is available from Words Worldwide for 21 working days from the day on which the user installs the product. A further 60 working days free support is available via e-mail.

A six-month or annual support agreement is available from Words Worldwide.
Q. I have a group of users, some of whom simply do not seem to be able to cope with speech recognition. What can I do about this?
A. Some users find difficulty in adjusting to the idea of speaking out their thoughts. Others experience problems with enunciation and pronunciation.

KeyStone Speech Tutor was introduced to address these problems and has proved to be a powerful tool. It enables users who have successfully enrolled using Dragon NaturallySpeaking or DragonDictate to practice speaking, being prompted by a computer voice. Their efforts are assessed automatically so that the teacher gains information on where difficulties occur.
Q. Do I qualify for an upgrade if I discover a fault in a program?
A. All products have been rigorously tested but it is in the nature of computer products for some faults to remain hidden, only to be exposed when the user carries out an unusual operation.  

Any fully documented fault which is reported will qualify the owner of the product to a replacement copy of the program at no charge as soon as the new version becomes available.
Q. Can a person with speaking difficulties or a strong accent use speech recognition?
A. Provided that the user speaks reasonably consistently and smoothly and has enrolled on Dragon NaturallySpeaking or Vista's voice recognition system carefully, good results can be obtained. In the case of dysarthric speech it is harder to estimate the likely success of the outset. Slurred speech is easier to cater for than broken speech, where there is a pause within the word. A stutter can be coped with but this often presents a problem.

Where DNS fails to cater for speech problems, DragonDictate should be tried. In many cases those with quite severely dysarthric speech and bad stuttering can succeed in using ScreenSpeaker with DragonDictate.

Those who experience difficulties because they are novice users, are not using their native language or who have a strong regional accent may benefit from the use of KeyStone SpeechTutor.
Q. I understand that it is no longer necessary to enroll on a speech recognition system. Is this true?
A. Version 9 and 10 of Dragon NaturallySpeaking and the new Microsoft Vista voice recognition system enable a user to start using the recognition system after a very brief introductory session lasting a few seconds.

However, most users will still benefit considerably from spending a few minutes on the conventional enrolment system. This will be amply rewarded by a reduction in the need to correct for recognition errors in the early stages of use.

Users who do dispense with the enrollment phase may find they benefit from using KeyStone Speech Tutor. This is of particular value to people with enunciation or pronunciation difficulties and those who are not native to the language used for recognition.
Q. Can those with dysarthric speech use voice recognition systems?
A. Many people with dysarthric speech are able to use the DragonDictate voice recognition system. This is available from Words Worldwide.

This system works with discrete speech where the user pauses momentarily between each word.
Q. Is DragonDictate still available?
A. Yes, WordsWorldwide can provide DragonDictate with a suitable micrphone and its special KeyStone SpeechTutor software which assists users with speech difficulties.
Q. How does Vista's voice recognition compare with Dragon?
A. The Vista operating system includes a voice recognition system. Success in using the facility will depend on the quality of microphone used.

Many users will find the Vista system easier to use than Dragon NaturallySpeaking and some may find that it is more accurate.

Vista voice recognition has an overlay system which makes the control of programs by voice much simpler than when using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. The corrrection panel is also much easier to use, with the functionality of the DNS correction box and the Spell Box being combined.

Words Worldwide's SpeechTutor program assists in getting the most out of both voice recognition systems. Users can test out the performance of different microphones and check on their speaking style to improve recognition rates.

 
Q. What is the recommended PC specification to use ScreenSpeaker and SpeechMaster products?
A. If you are using KeyStone ScreenSpeaker on its own, 256 MB of RAM will be sufficient. With KeyStone SpeechMaster, unless your computer has close to 1 GB of RAM, you may experience problems with processing speed, especially if you are using several programs at once. It is recommended that you use a Pentium 4 processor or better, running at 2.0 GHz or faster.

SpeechMaster will benefit considerably from extra processing power and memory. However, increasingly memory capacity of your PC will prove to be the cheapest and most effective means of increasing the performance of SpeechMaster.
Q. What is the difference between KeyStone ScreenSpeaker and KeyStone SpeechMaster?
A. KeyStone SpeechMaster is a boxed product containing KeyStone ScreenSpeaker and the Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition system. The microphone is purchased separately. The package includes 28 days of telephone support and 60 days of e-mail support.

ScreenSpeaker is ideal to people with reading problems and Dragon NaturallySpeaking helps those with writing problems. In combination as KeyStone SpeechMaster they make the ideal package for dyslexics needing to produce written material.

ScreenSpeaker is a special type of screen reader which is designed specifically to assist dyslexic people when they use voice recognition equipment. It is also useful to visually handicapped people for use as a more general screen reader.
Q. Why is a microphone not included in the KeyStone SpeechMaster pack?
A. Many people are not satisfied with the microphone which is provided as standard with Dragon NaturallySpeaking for a variety of reasons. The microphone type is subject to change without notice. Also, schools and colleges frequently have more than one user on a specific system and should be provided with more than one microphone due to considerations of health and general convenience.

Many users will be able to use a basic type of microphone, available at  low cost. This is not included in the KeyStone SpeechMaster package, to allow the purchaser full flexibility of choice.

Some users with weak voices or those with particular characteristics will need more sophisticated microphones. User requirements will often demand desk-mounted systems rather than headsets.

Electrical issues may require USB-based microphones rather than those with conventional audio connections.

Words Worldwide therefore offers a choice of microphone and provides discounts for multiple orders.
Q. I understand that some users, particularly dyslexics, may have difficulty in speaking in continuous mode. What can be done about this?
A. It is impossible to determine at the outset whether a person with moderate to severe learning difficulties will find it more appropriate to use discrete or continuous recognition. If the user does prefer to speak in discrete word mode, i.e. a word at a time with a pause between them, Dragon NaturallySpeaking will permit this without penalty. However, many dyslexic people will find that the technique for correcting recognition errors falls short of what was possible when using discrete recognition with DragonDictate.

For users who wish to have a high level of support in correcting recognition errors it is recommended that they purchase KeyStone VoiceMaster which comprises Keystone ScreenSpeaker and DragonDictate.
Q. How can a large group of users access KeyStone ScreenSpeaker or KeyStone SpeechMaster?
A. Special licence arrangements can be made for large groups of users. Where a server is required to store voice files, the Keystone Roamer product can be provided. Voice files can then automatically be downloaded and uploaded when a user logs on or off a computer.
Q. I have heard that some people have great difficulty in enrolling on speech systems. If this is true, can anything be done?
A. Yes, a few people do have difficulties. People with literacy or visual problems often have trouble in reading enrolment scripts. Others may stumble when speaking the required text during the enrolment process.

KeyStone ScreenSpeaker and KeyStone SpeechTutor both have a number of special enrolment scripts which consist of short phrases and sentences instead of lengthy paragraphs. The dyslexia user is therefore not confused by a mass of text. In addition, Both these KeyStone products contain extra scripts to those included normally with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, giving greater scope to finding one that suits the user.

Each KeyStone product (optionally) also speaks out each short phrase or sentence so that those who cannot read the text simply have to repeat what they hear.

The user can speak the enrolment text a word at a time if difficulty is being experienced.
Q. Do I need to purchase a voice recognition system if I have the MS Vista operating system?
A. MS Vista does have a useful voice recognition system provided as part of the operating system. However, some people will find that the current version is not sufficiently versatile to allow them to modify vocabularies and transfer user profiles from one user to another.

Microsoft is currently not making information available for general use which will allow the Vista voice recognition system to become widely used. This is expected to change as the Vista operating system is developed further.
Q. Can I upgrade my existing KeyStone SpeechMaster system to run on the Vista operating system?
A. The Microsoft Vista operating system requires version 9.5 or 10 of Dragon NaturallySpeaking to work with it.

KeyStone SpeechMaster has been upgraded to work with Vista, through version 10. The Stories Organiser element of earlier versions has been replaced by KeyStone SpeechTutor.
Q. How good is the new Vista voice recognition system?
A. The new Microsoft Vista operating system contains a voice recognition facility which approaches Dragon NaturallySpeaking in performance.

Click here to obtain details about Vista voice recognition.

However, Vista's enrolment system, which is necessary for most users, is less effective than Dragon's. KeyStone Speech Tutor has been developed to assist people who are having difficulty in getting a sufficiently good level of recognition to compensate for this.

An important issue for many potential users of voice recognition is that it is provided as part of the operating system and there is no extra cost for the facility. For this reason, it is often wrongly considered to be of little value.

A microphone must be provided to use the Vista voice recognition system. For effective use, a good noise-cancelling unit is strongly recommended. Using cheap microphones will produce poor results.

Click here to see a comparison between the Vista voice recognition system and Dragon NaturallySpeaking.



 
Q. If I already have a version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking can I use it with ScreenSpeaker and if so, will it work in the same way as SpeechMaster?
A. Yes, provided that you have version 8, 9 or 10 of Dragon NaturallySpeaking Preferred or Professional, KeyStone ScreenSpeaker will work in the same way as KeyStone SpeechMaster once you load KeyStone ScreenSpeaker. Earlier versions of Dragon NaturallySpeaking are not recommended.

KeyStone SpeechMaster is the name given to the bundled product consisting of KeyStone ScreenSpeaker and Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

Please note that you lose the benefit of the support arrangements if you purchase items separately. You cannot then take advantage of the SpeeechMaster hotline or e-mail support unless you enter into an annual agreement.
Q. What do I gain by obtaining DNS Preferred instead of Professional?
A. A separate leaflet is available which tells you the difference between the various versions of DNS. Keystone users will see little difference between the different versions when using the product for assisting with literacy development.

The main difference between Preferred and Professional versions is that the latter provides the facility to set up Macros (special voice driven programs). These enable the user to speak commands and initiate an entire sequence of operations, e.g. initiate a mail merge from a specific file into a document and print the results onto pre-selected labels.
Q. I have a group of users, all of whom need to use SpeechMaster. Do I need a licence for each user?
A. You need a licence for each computer on which SpeechMaster is loaded. Site licences are available at special prices for five systems or more.

If more than one person uses SpeechMaster on a single computer for significant amounts of work, a licence is required for each user of the speech recognition system. This requirement must be stated when ordering the equiment. Checks of this requirement in schools, colleges and commercial institutions may be conducted by FAST.
Q. I have used a dictation machine for years. Will I be able to use SpeechMaster in the same way?
A. Using speech recognition requires slightly different techniques. The users of dictation equipment often rely on the human transcriber coping with mumbled or gabbled speech. A rather higher quality of speech production is required when using automatic speech recognition equipment. However, the benefit of this is that the user no longer has to rely on the human transcriber’s experience of the dictation style. A more consistent response is therefore possible.

By using a mobile recorder, a person who has been using a dictation machine will be able to transfer quickly and effectively to voice recognition technology.
Q. I understand that Keystone Roamer enables voice files to be automatically managed on a network. However, I understand that DNS already has this function. Why should I need Keystone Roamer?
A. DNS only provides voice file management if you purchase the professional version of the product. Keystone Roamer enables you to manage voice files even if you only purchase the Preferred version of the product.
Q. I often hear about "enrolment" and "training" of speech system. What do these terms mean?
A. "Enrolment" (sometimes also referred to as "training") of the speech system is where the user provides examples of how he or she speaks by reading from a series of sections of text displayed on the screen. DNS collect information from the spoken text and this indicates how the user will form particular sounds when dictating.
Q. What exactly is KeyStone ScreenSpeaker?
A. KeyStone ScreenSpeaker is a screen reader that has been specifically designed to work with voice recognition systems as well as keyboard input.

ScreenSpeaker echoes all essential information from the correction box in Dragon NaturallySpeaking as well as (optionally) the text which is displayed on the screen as dictation continues. Information on menus and dialog boxes is also spoken out if required.

However, ScreenSpeaker also provides assistance with homophones and phonetic spelling errors. It is an invaluable means of support for those who need assistance with literacy problems or those new to the language.

 
Q. I believe discrete speech systems had been around much longer than continuous systems. Are they therefore more accurate and more stable in computer terms?
A. DragonDictate was launched in 1988 and is still available. Other than DragonDictate very few discrete systems are still on the market and none are easily accessible in the UK. Discrete systems are extremely robust and will work on almost any modern IBM compatible PC. For certain types of use it is still the most effective: for example when use is restricted to issuing terse commands such as "load file XYZ", "bold that", "Switch to Microsoft Excel", "move down six lines", "delete next six words". The advantage of this type of use compared to continuous speech systems is that it requires minimal amounts of memory and modest processing power.

Accuracy tends to be rather lower from an experienced user than will be found if a continuous system is being used. Dictation will be at much less than half the speed and correction of errors will be more of an effort.

The DragonDictate discrete speech system has proved extremely useful where a person is unable to produce a high quality of speech, for example where the user has CP. In such cases, high productivity is possible even though continuous speech recognition would be wholly unusable.
Q. I understand that I can speak text into the DNS document window (DragonPad) when using SpeechMaster instead of using Microsoft Word. What are the benefits and disadvantages of this?
A. The display of text on the screen will be quicker and maybe slightly more accurate than when Microsoft Word is used. The disadvantage is that you have to transfer text into other application packages such as Microsoft Word if you wish to format them, rather than dictating into them directly. Many of the very useful functions such as "bullet that" which are available when working with Microsoft Word and not available when working in DragonPad.

A major benefit is that on a less powerful machine, the DNS system will end to operate faster and more accurately.  Also, for users who require a simpler user environment DragonPad is preferable to Microsoft Word.

Microsoft WordPad and Notepad can also be used with SpeechMaster instead of Microsoft Word.
Q. What is meant by "continuous" and "discrete" speech recognition?
A. Continuous speech systems enable a competent user to dictate without pausing between words and phrases. The earlier discrete systems required a small pause of about a tenth of a second between words, resulting in a slightly stilted delivery.

Speeds of well over 120 words a minute of accurately recognized text can be achieved. Dictation must be well articulated but not artificially so. Any tendency to mumble, gabble or slow down the speech will reduce the accuracy of recognition considerably.

In general, users of speech recognition will not generate text at such high speeds. Professional typing speeds rarely exceed 80 words a minute. Most people who use dictation equipment achieve speeds of around 100 words a minute. Therefore. For practical purposes DNS will cater for all speaking speeds.
Q. What problems might I experience if I do not use the recommended specification of PC to use SpeechMaster?
A. You will find that the PC may run very slowly if you have several programs loaded at once. In extreme cases, the machine may appear to "freeze" so that although it has not "crashed" in the strict sense, computer processing is effectively suspended.

If you have less than 512 MB of RAM, SpeechMaster will tend to run very slowly if you use it with Microsoft Word. The recommended amount of memory for smooth operation is 1 GB of RAM.

Speech recognition performance may suffer significantly if your PC falls below the recommended specification.
Q. Is there anything I can do to speed up the operation of SpeechMaster and make it more accurate with the given machine specification?
A. Yes, to a limited extent. There are DNS settings you can change which will make the processing faster at the expense of accuracy of recognition and vice versa - you cannot improve both at once.

In general, if you are experiencing problems with the default settings, you would be well advised to make the small extra financial outlay and upgrade your PC.

If you are mainly concerned with producing text and have limited formatting requirements, using the DragonPad facility will significantly speed up your work.
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