CCE Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Gertrude W Abramson

Committee Member

Helen St. Aubin

Committee Member

Marilyn V Olander


Assistive Technology, Dragon Naturally Speaking, Measuring Speed and Accuracy, Orthopedically Impaired, Psychosocial Effect, Speech Recognition


Orthopedically impaired (OI) students face a formidable challenge during the writing process due to their limited or non-existing ability to use their hands to hold a pen or pencil or even to press the keys on a keyboard. While they may have a clear mental picture of what they want to write, the biggest hurdle comes well before having to tackle the basic elements of writing such as grammar, punctuation, syntax, order, coherence, and unity of thought among others. There are many examples of assistive technology that has been deployed to facilitate writing for these students such as: word processors, word prediction software, keyboards and mice modified to be manipulated by feet and even mouth, and speech recognition software (SRS).

The use of SRS has gained great popularity mainly due to the leaps in technology that have occurred during the last decade, particularly during the last three to five years. SRS is now capable of delivering speech to write with a verifiable accuracy rate in excess of 90% with as little as 10 hours of training. The current SRS industry recognized leader is Nuance Communications with its iconic Dragon Naturally Speaking (DNS) which is on version 12.5 at the time of this writing. DNS has practically eliminated the competition on SRS applications.

This investigation explored the feasibility of using SRS as a writing tool by OI students to take notes and to complete writing projects. While others have tested the efficacy of SRS in general and of DNS in particular, this exploration is believed to be the first investigation into the use of SRS in the general classroom. One OI and two regular students were observed taking notes in three different classrooms after having received 10 hours of training using the software. Results indicate that all students dictated at a rate at least twice as fast as typing while averaging 90% accuracy rate. While the OI student dictation speed was consistently lower than that of the other students, there was minimal difference in accuracy. The Psychosocial Impact of Assistive Devices Scales (PIADS) questionnaire revealed a positive effect of the use of SRS on all three students with the OI student showing a higher index of improvement than the regular students in the areas of competence and self-esteem while all students experienced a closely similar score in the area of adaptability.

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