I work in the United Kingdom as a commercial contracts consultant managing and negotiating high-value and complex commercial contracts. I am an engineer by profession but I deal with a considerable amount of legal work. Typically, I dictate 5000 words per week and use a variety of applications many of which are cloud-based.
I first encountered hand pain in 1992. I first sought medical help in 2007 but for many years the diagnosis was inconclusive. Generally, I think that my problems fall into the category of Repetitive Strain Injury “RSI” although I now know that I have osteoarthritis amongst other problems. By 2011, I was starting to engage a variety of tools and began to rely heavily upon Dragon Naturally Speaking for my dictation.
Characteristically, I used to type almost exclusively into so-called “Dragon-friendly” applications such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook. Dragon works very well where direct dictation is accepted, however, about three years ago I noticed that industry started to move towards nonstandard cloud-based applications. Nuance, whilst improving its speech accuracy, had offered very little help in this area. Dragon does provide a dictation-box but it is really quite tiny and cannot easily be moved around the screen. I reached out for help on LinkedIn and was referred to Rob Meulman of Speech Productivity.
He had experienced similar difficulties and has come up with a solution providing controllable dictation boxes.
Rob has been very receptive to listening to his customers and evolving the product over time to meet community needs. For me, there are three massive advantages in using Speech Productivity: overcoming problems with immobility, helping to overcome problems with weakening eyesight and increasing business productivity.
Overcoming my problems with immobility
My use of Rob’s dictation boxes enables me to reduce hand intervention to about 5%. I do use other RSI solutions such as the Handshoe Mouse and a home-made mouse click a button. With this help the pain in my hands has reduced considerably and enabled me to keep working. I use a simple command “whoosh” to open a box prior to dictating and a command “transfer-it” to copy the text back to the target application. Most importantly, the text is never lost. A problem can occur where cloud applications go on a go-slow and refuse to accept text: in this case the boxes act as a buffer because the boxes always accept text even where the application temporarily refuses to do so.
Helping to overcome my problems with weakening eyesight
I work nowadays with a Ultra High Definition (UHD) screen. This allows me to bring up several applications at a time or two compare to legal documents side-by-side. There is a problem in using a large screen expanse (28 inches) in that it is necessary to move one’s head from position to position: this is fine but in time it becomes quite preferable to dictate into an eyelevel point at the centre of the screen. I do most of my dictation work at a point that is roughly in the centre of the screen but Rob has provided facilities such that the boxes can be moved around by voice. Sometimes it is necessary to move the box to work with the underlying text. Rob also introduced a Transparent Dictation Box whereby the underlying text can still be read but better still is the Translucent Box which allows a compromise between focusing upon the foreground text whilst being able to see some of the background text. Vitally important, of course, is text size which can be adjusted to personal preference.
Increasing business productivity
For me, my business productivity has increased massively through the use of these tools. Work colleagues are quite amazed when they see me working. By and large, people continue to bash away at their keyboards and even trained touch typist are slower than the voice dictators. The proofreading utility “Grammarly” tells me weekly that I am more productive than 96% of the Grammarly user base. Rob’s product is more than a dictation box only product: he has introduced me to many Speech Productivity features that have improved my method of working. Rob calls his features “ergonomic commands”. They are ergonomic because they decrease manual intervention, are easy on your voice and increase productivity.
All in all, I would say that Speech Productivity is a must at the professional level product that permits dictation anywhere. Rob has built up a collection of value-added features that are not highly promoted but are well worth exploring. The program offers far more than just dictation boxes.
Stephen Lewis, Commercial contracts professional
Nimbargent Birmingham, England