Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Speech Recognition Software Has Its Uses in Genealogy

Dick Eastman in his online newsletter and others (see Mormon Times at have talked about the use of speech recognition software in conjunction with genealogy research.

I have personally used "Dragon Naturally Speaking" for several years and rely on it. But it is a pricey item coming in from $150 to $200. However, many of you are getting new computers that run Windows 7, and you should know that a speech recognition program comes included with that operating system. Simply click on your Windows 7 equivalent of the "Start Button" and type "speech" in the search box. The top item returned(or close to it) will be "Windows Speech Recognition."

The program leads you through some setup steps, but in the end the program works very well. Don't forget that you need a microphone to use the software.

So you might ask about how this is useful in genealogy. Well, I find it most useful if I am transcribing information for a book or journal. Rather than doing all that typing, I can simply read it into the computer. Also, when I am recording notes, especially lengthy ones, speech recognition saves a lot of time. And if you are a family history writer, amateur or otherwise, using speech recognition to get initial thoughts into the computer rapidly can't be beat.

Admittedly, the software will not recognize everything I say correctly, so there is some cleanup needed. But it is much less work than doing all the typing myself. In fact, the speech recognition errors are typically fewer than my typing errors. On top of that, the more you use the software, the more accurate it becomes.

Give it a try, you may find you have a new best software-friend.

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