Dictating documents and emails, whether it is on a PC, tablet or phone, is no longer new technology. All operating systems from Windows to Mac to Android and iOS have had this capability built-in for some time. Additionally, there are extremely powerful software applications such as Dragon 15 that can be purchased with all sorts of additional functionality and incredible accuracy.
For most people, the option of dictating rather than typing is a ‘nice to have’ feature. However, for a person with dyslexia, it can make the world of difference…
Let’s think about the processes that have to happen to create a piece of writing…
- We have to have a clear idea of what we want to convey.
- We need to know what words to use.
- We need to recall what individual words look like so we can spell them correctly.
- We need to recall which version of certain words to use; was it there or their, for example?
- We also need to recall the rules for punctuation.
- And we need to give structure to the overall content of the information.
We know that for a person with dyslexia the brain will process reading functions differently than a non-dyslexic person, and it may be more difficult and take more processing capability to perform word or language-based tasks. Very quickly, the vast majority of processing ability can be taken up with finding the right word, remembering how to spell it, etc. leaving less processing power to focus on conveying the message in the way they want to.
Dictating is a way of being able to ‘sub-contract’ a lot of those tasks out of the brain. By just speaking the words naturally, the technology can worry about the spelling, picking the right version of a word, and even punctuation to some degree.
This frees up a big chunk of processing power enabling the individual to better focus on what can’t be sub-contracted out, i.e. structuring what they want to write – whether it be a simple email or a complex report.
Once the dictation has been completed, the text information is now available in a digital format. This means that literacy support and text-to-speech features can be used to easily spell-check the information and also to hear it read back aloud, minimising further stress to get the task completed quickly.