Voice Recognition Software – What is it any good for?
When the first true voice recognition software (VR) packages started to become available in the 1990s they offered the possibility of increased productivity by virtue of faster-than-typing dictate capabilities, and the potential to operate a computer almost solely with spoken commands. The potential for the disabled to be able to access computing power, as well as giving businesses a huge boost in productivity was obvious, but the reality of the low-quality products failed to live up to expectations. The dream was actually bit of a nightmare with retyping mistakes a routine event.
Translation software Becomes Reliable
The programming structure and database construction set up for VR lent their architecture to a new and highly accurate translation software that was capable of the translation of languages quickly and easily. But the correct use of structure, rules, and idiom in multiple languages is significantly more complex than resolving spoken words and printing them on a page, and these systems too require the highest quality peripherals to ensure that linguistics are understood and correctly translated. It is an issue when carrying out casual translation, but becomes a much greater issue when being used professionally such as in legal or technical applications.
Now, twenty years later, voice recognition and translation software packages have been honed to become an effective and usable tools for business and the disabled alike. Commercial VR and translation applications have become accurate programs with huge databases covering words, phrases and syntax combinations encompassing most of English and almost every other language in the World. Crucially, however, the hardware needed to interface the programs had also increased in quality, and therefore accuracy, over the same time period, and the two pronged approach increased the sensitivity and value of the programs enormously.
However, modern headsets with built-in microphones can be bulky pieces of equipment but they are necessary to get the most accurate delivery to your voice recognition software and it is essential that they are kept in good condition, so that means that they need to be stored and transported in appropriate way to ensure that they remain free from damage. Transporting technology like that around safely and equally as importantly, comfortably for the user becomes a bit of a task, but the range from Trabasack, makes it light work of all the extra gear.
Transporting Issues? No problem.
The Trabasack range go far beyond the normal model used for computer cases and are designed to be used in challenging situations that require specials features, such as those found with wheelchair users. This situation in particular offers particular problems as the user has to have everything with them, and be able to put it all together and operate it in a small area such as their lap. The architecture of the Trabasack Curve and Trabasack Curve Connect Trabasack products promotes such use, having purposely curved edges that allow the bag to sit comfortably on the lap, creating a sturdy surface for the computer to be rested on, and with well-lined equipment pockets for headsets and speakers, anyone can carry all the items they need around safely, in comfort and without risk of damage. For those needing more carrying capability, the Trabasack Max is a very high quality product with plenty of room for equipment.
But the Trabasack range are equally as useful to the business traveller, who may find that they need to carry equipment for VR and translation software onto aircraft and use it in the confined space of an aircraft seat. Additionally, they may need an ever higher specification headset to allow crystal-clear pick-up in low voice situations; neither the traveller nor the other passengers want to be in a position of having constant dictation being heard!! Once again, the Trabasack bags offer a firm work surface in a small package that is small enough for even the most room-conscious airlines, while offering complete safety in transporting expensive equipment.
Whether you suffer from some disability or not, the range of bags from Trabasack are more than capable of dealing with the equipment that you need to take with you to get the most out of your voice recognition and translation software.
Mike Parsons works for Kwintessential.co.uk a translation company who deal in Localization, Translation and interpretation. He enjoys writing in his spare time and gets the opportunity to travel a lot in his work hours.
The team at Trabasack have been busy working away for the last few months on a brand new product. The Media Mount has been under wraps for some time but it’s due its nationwide launch very soon and is an exciting new addition to the Trabasack family. In particular, this product is something we think will work fantastically with a range of communication aids we have discussed via this blog.
A Closer Look at the Media Mount
On first looking at the Media Mount, you may wonder what exactly it is. Flexible and extremely easy to manipulate, the Media Mount is a brand new multifunctional mounting device, which allows items to be held in specific positions on the Trabasack Connect tray surface. Whether it’s your iPad or your bottle of juice, the Media Mount is designed to ensure your item of choice stays strictly in its specified place. Maleable and easy to manage, the Media Mount is also fitted with two large grab handles to make shaping extremely straightforward. The Mount can be twisted and bent in any shape to accommodate your item and is an addition to the Trabasack range which significantly enhances and furthers its usability.
The Media Mount is made from soft hook and look receptive material with a Velcro strip attached to one side, making it extremely straightforward to attach to your Mount to the Connect surface of your Trabasack and therefore secure your item in place.
The Media Mount and Communication Aids
As already mentioned, we believe that the Trabasack Media Mount is a product which can be used effectively in conjunction with many communication aid devices to make use even more straightforward and simple. For example, a Media Mount could ensure your Lightwriter Swift or iTalk2 is perfectly secured to your Trabasack surface, in the right position to ensure you can use it with ease and without having to stress or strain.
We have talked many times about how useful iPads are for communication and the Media Mount was designed with iPad and tablet technology in mind and can be perfect for positioning your iPad exactly where you need it to access your apps comfortably and add a further ease of use to your communication needs. What’s more if you’re thinking of undertaking a feat of innovative genius and creating your own Frankenkindle, the Media Mount could come in use once again. The many uses of the Media Mount should not be discounted and it can make your Trabasack even more versatile and essential to every day life.
Currently, the Media Mount is available via the Trabasack website but will soon be launched via Amazon and other platforms.
Part 2 – Autism AAC Apps for Children and Young Adults
Following on from part 1 of our compendium of blogs covering interactive iPad apps for AAC, we have yet more innovative teaching aids that will help to ease difficulties with communication via a fun and uncomplicated interface.
Augie AAC is a modern and portable communication app specifically designed for those with AAC needs. The iPad app lets you organise information into two categories; home and school, where everything from schedules, vocabulary and tasks can be arranged for quick and easy access and usability. This voice output app comes with a library of high-frequency vocabulary, which covers both the home and school environment, and can be user-defined to provide even more freedom and independence of communication.
AutisMate is a unique and fully customisable communication app is specifically aimed at children and young people with Autism. The app allows you to create “scenes” of familiar family, home and school settings by uploading photographs of surroundings, which can then be layered with interactive prompts matched to the user’s current location. The unique feature of this AAC app is its ability to track the user’s location using GPS, and thus updates the current displayed “scene” to match your child’s environment. The interactive prompts can include text-to-speech, video or static images, to help provide a fun way for your child to connect with their surroundings.
Baluh is a simple iPad app for creating communication pages using either the pre-installed 400+ ARASAAC symbols or user uploaded images. You can create category pages which can include 20 options, and then each option page can include 4 interactive communication buttons.
Click n’ Talk is another simplified and easy-to-use communication aid that allows caregivers or children to create photo albums on specific subjects, using their own photographs. Each photo can have text and voice attached with ease, to provide a fun way of revisiting past events or helping to educate about everyday activities.
The ComApp.i3 iPad app is a fun, bright and attractive AAC aid that allows children to quickly and easily communicate basic everyday needs and wants. The icons and interface are incredibly child-friendly, with a simple navigation that will help children express their needs almost immediately, without prior demonstration or experience with the app.
These AAC apps were chosen and appraised by Jane Farral, a speech pathologist and special educator with over 20 years of practical knowledge in the field of disability and assistive technology. Jane is highly experienced in the teaching of both adults and children with varying abilities, and holds a Masters in Special Education, where she concentrated on literacy acquisition in children and adults without speech.
Trabasack are pleased to announce their newest communication device mounting aid– the Trabasack Media Mount; a multi-purpose, flexible mounting device, ideal for use on help support mobile electronic devices or as Ipads or other tablet computers when people are seated. The Trabasack Media Mount can be used in conjunction with the Connect Curve lap desk bag to ensure iPads, books or even remote controls and bottles remain in a sturdy position, and at the desired angle for use; it can be easily twisted into shape to hold almost anything upright, with the Velcro along one side ensuring the device remains firmly in place.
Communication Aids: Communication Cards
If you have problems with verbal communication, perhaps due to learning difficulties, deafness, cerebral palsy, or stroke, you may already have normal communication aids or methods. But what if the person you’re trying to communicate with doesn’t understand BSL or Makaton, or your Lightwriter‘s batteries are flat? Or you may just have communication problems occasionally, perhaps due to fatigue, or if there’s too much noise.
Communication Cards, from Stickman Communications, are the answer. These sturdy laminated communication aids cover most situations in a non-clinical, light-hearted (but never offensive) way. In the bank, the post office, shops, and a multitude of other situations, Communication Cards will be invaluable.
You start by ordering a Starter Pack, which has a “Thank You” card on a keyring style holder. Then you add whatever other cards are going to be helpful for you. Your selection will come as a set on the keyring.
There is a wide selection of Communication Cards available, including one for writing your own message and one for your personal data. Some are specific to certain conditions – for instance one has a brief description of Hypermobility Syndrome – but most of them could be used by any of us.
Each card is 11cm by 7.8cm, and your set will come with stickers to put on the cards, so you can easily find the one you need. They can slip into a bag or handbag, or even into your pocket, or clip onto a wheelchair using a carabiner clip.
Communication Cards have only been available for a short time, but as this tweet shows, their popularity is growing fast by word of mouth.
New Communication Card designs are coming out all the time, so keep an eye on the website to see what’s new! These innovative and attractive communication aids are great fun, and can be a lifesaver in an emergency. A highly recommended product.
Trabasack: reviewed by Kate Ahern: a teacher of pupils with significant special needs
Trabasack’s reputation is growing and as more and more are sold, the reviews are coming in thick and fast and spreading across the blogosphere. One such review is Kate Ahern who blogs at Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs and as a teacher of pupils with significant needs, she was able to try out the Trabasack in her classroom.
Using a Trabasack in the classroom
Known as a “portable lap” in Kate’s classroom, the Trabasack is used everyday especially for activities such as music therapy which take place away from the normal classroom tables. Kate explains that the Trabasack makes “it easier to ‘see’ the student instead of the equipment because it is smaller and looks more natural than a tray”. She also highlights that the velcro-receptive feature of the Connect surface means switches and communication devices can be easily attached. The children and students also use the Trabasack for leisure, and use the surface to ‘stick’ their iPods and MP3 players purposes to it, helping to keep them from falling off and close at hand when needed.
Trabasacks for field trips
Kate also highlights how useful the Trabasack can be as a tray although explains that the bag function is equally useful. Its “wonderful that is can carry switches, symbols and sensory items while hanging on the back of a wheelchair and then be used as a tray to access those items” she says. She also remarks how a Trabasack would have been perfect for field trips to the movies which had occurred in the previous year. It could help keep a student calm and comfortable she states. In fact, we have already considered how useful a Trabasack
can be for cinema trips as it provides a tray table area for drinks and snacks.
Kate’s review shows exactly how valuable a Trabasack can be in a school environment and how it can be a great mount forcommunication aids and for activities away from the school desks. Trabasack is a very useful edition to a teacher of children with special needs equipment, and helps to make more use of the equipment available.