Kansas State University


IT News

Author: Jason Maseberg-Tomlinson

AccessTech: Speech-recognition software diversifies the PC experience

K-Access Logo

This week is “K-State For ALL!” here at K-State. I encourage you to check out our list of events on the 2011 K-State For All webpage. Join us as we celebrate DiversAbility!

This month I would like to introduce a technology that is actually very commonplace in our society, although we do not always realize it. If you have ever spoken with a computerized operator on the phone with a large corporation, told your phone who to call with voice commands, used Google Voice, or played with voice recognition on your computer, you were using speech recognition (SR).

This technology has been around for many decades, though it has only become common in the last two. Many people with disabilities use this software to alter the computer environment to their needs.

  • People who have limited use of their hands use SR to control the computer with their voice.
  • People with learning disabilities often use SR to dictate a paper because speaking on a topic and voicing out a paper does not rely on their ability to spell.
  • Many others simply find that speaking a paper is better for them than typing and allows for a better environment for processing and composing their thoughts.

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AccessTech: Text-To-Speech bringing text to the ears

K-Access logo.

As I mentioned last month, one of the most basic needs for accessibility is readable text. For many students with disabilities, accessible text allows the computer to read documents out loud.  This is extremely helpful for students with learning disabilities, visual impairments, and also for students who speak English as a second language.

All students benefit from being able to search for terms, highlight text, and annotate readings; searchable PDF files make this possible.  Audible text can be a lifesaver for many people.

Many of us have scanned articles to PDF files. Did you know that there are two kinds of scans?

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AccessTech: K-Access taking content to the next level of useability

You can compose a document for a class you are teaching on your phone, iPad, netbook, tablet PC, iPod, or on the desktop computer in your office.  You can even edit files online or on one of your devices.  But have you ever thought about the structure of your documents?  Did you know that many people depend not on the format of the document, but on the code that builds your document’s structure?  Content for your course only begins with aesthetics.  Underneath the Word document, PowerPoint, or PDF lies amazing amounts of code.  Depending on the software and tools you use to create your document, you can choose whether a graphic is only read by human eyes or you can create content with usable text that can be read by a computer for someone with a disability.  (Read more about screen readers next month!)

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AccessTech: Captioning online video

(Editor’s note: This is the first article in an ongoing monthly series about technology tools that improve access for all.)

Online videos are used in many college courses across the country. They bring in dialogue from people in different walks of life and with varied levels of mastery to enhance what is taught in the classroom. On the other hand, many videos are also composed with audio and video, leaving students with hearing and visual impairments without access to much content. There are now a number of great ways to find and create video’s with captions. Here are a couple methods to explore: Google, and dotSUB.

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