Monday, June 27, 2011

Draggin' dictation

When I saw David Pogue's breathless encomium to Dragon Dictation for the iPad 2 in his New York Times column, I said to myself, "Henry, you've got to try this one. It's free. And it might even work."

I have "deaf speech" that was once described as sounding like "rusty bathtub pipes." My production is breathy, my enunciation muddy. I'm understandable in a quiet room if my interlocutor pays close attention. In the presence of background noise or human impatience, I might as well be shouting down a bottomless hole.

I once took speech therapy until the returns began to diminish. At the age of almost 71 there isn't much point in subjecting myself to that kind of hard work anymore. After all, I'm not about to address the British Empire on the eve of World War II.

Still I hope for a breakthrough. Perhaps the easy-to-use Dragon Dictation app, which translates spoken words to text, might be a useful engine for sharpening my speech--if it could reproduce what I say with any accuracy. Perhaps a bit of practice would increase that accuracy, however incrementally.

So I downloaded it to my iPad 2 and gave it a try.

Here is what I said:

"In this grave hour, perhaps the most fateful in our history, I send to every household of my peoples, both at home and overseas, this message, spoken with the same depth of feeling for each one of you as if I were able to cross your threshold and speak to you myself."

Here is what Dragon Dictation said I said:

"Gran Mammo human Pidfile Net-Arping couldn't you think badly of voodoo mind him through okay Omega ring to message spoken with a PaymentInfo caring bridge women in favor and go to the print FoodGang. Close to you."

Your Majesty and Mr. Logue, you have nothing to worry about from the likes of me.


  1. sounds like a bad case of OCR -- Optical Character Recognition.

  2. Voice-to-speech or OCR, it's a dog's breakfast.

  3. I am 67, late deafened (HAs since 2005, hope to get new ones soon), BLSN, worsened to moderate/moderately severe. Recently attended the HLAA national convention (sent you a few pics of my train ride). My roommate at the con was from NYC, born deaf but with a HA and a CI and speaks well. You'd have thought I was from a foreign country, the way she was dragging me and introducing me: "I want you to meet my roommate. She's from Alabama" ... at least I was told that I don't have much of a Southern drawl so I was able to communicate with almost everyone there. I have a couple friends who use Dragon because they can't use their hands.