Australian teacher, Matt Buttsworth, who is handicapped with dyslexia and dysgraphia has found Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 a life liberating solution to his impediments.
According to the Australian Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is a reading impediment that hampers one’s ability to spell, decode and read written language. It affects about 10 per cent of the Australian population.
Dysgraphia is an impairment in which a person has difficulty with the ability to write. Although not as widespread as dyslexia, dysgraphia still affects thousands of people in Australia.
Diagnosed with both handicaps at a young age, Buttsworth learned to live with both impairments as best he could. He struggled through school and was bright enough to enter university and gain a doctorate in history before deciding to pursue a teaching career.
He says: “All through university I would have to pay typists to type up my essays and assignments. Then I would have to check that the typist’s deciphering of my written script was accurate.
“When I decided I wanted to be a history teacher I knew I had to find something to help me write clearly and read effectively. It’s very embarrassing when your students cannot read all that you have written and when you know that the information will contain numerous spelling mistakes.”
In 1994, while living and working in Switzerland, Buttsworth first heard that voice dictation software had been developed.
“I remember buying every voice dictation program and using them to see how they could help. It was at this time that I first heard of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. After testing everything else, Dragon was the only one that could help me. It wasn’t perfect but it was useable and I stuck with it.”
Nuance released Version 9 during 2007–08 while he was teaching at an international school in Norway. He says: “Dragon 9 was far superior when compared to the earlier program. The accuracy in terms of converting my speech to text and the spelling were much better so I could create lecture notes to help me teach in class and make detailed study booklets that I could email my students.”
In 2012 Nuance released Dragon 12 and with this version Buttsworth says “everything changed All of a sudden I no longer felt inhibited and it was a liberating feeling.”
He found that in addition to using the software while teaching, he could use it to type letters and correspondence, send emails and surf the Internet. In class, Dragon became a powerful teachers’ aid. He could hookup his Dragon enabled computer to a projector screen to help him dictate text for the students without the need to write.
‘My students no longer had to put up with my writing, which starts off OK but ends up with numerous spelling mistakes and as an illegible scrawl.
He has since used Dragon Professional to write his book How to Beat Dyslexia and Dysgraphia – My Story.
“With Dragon, having dyslexia and dysgraphia is no longer a disadvantage. The software is easy to use and like everything, the more you use it the better you get at it. Ideally, it would be wonderful to see the use of such a tool implemented as a nation-wide education policy to allow students with these handicaps to perform to their full potential.”