Copyblogger is a popular blog about writing (you can check out the blog on www.copyblogger.com) and I often read about his experiences as a writer / motivational tips and new writing techniques. The other day, I started doing a bit of research about voice recognition software. To my surprise, Jon Morrow (an associate editor for Copyblogger) had a video on his website saying that he wrote the entire blog with his voice!

Jon is a disabled real estate executive, he has spinal muscular atrophy and can barely move (let alone type). He started his site by answering real estate questions with voice recognition software. Pro Blogger (another well-known writer on the internet) wrote a post about how blogging gives a voice to the voiceless, linking to a press release that Jon wrote about his experience as a disabled writer who wrote an entire website without lifting a finger. Jon says that, from a motivation standpoint, this link that Pro Blogger put on his site (to Jon’s site) was the most important encouragement he could’ve gotten at that point in his career.

“Speech recognition software has come a long way over the past few years. Three years ago, it was a novelty. I’ve become one of the people who writers come to when they want to know how this software works,” said Jon in a video on his site.

Does it actually work?

People always want to know if speech recognition software actually works (nobody wants to spend 20 hours training the program and still have it pick up only half of what you’re saying). The good news is that speech recognition software is finally starting to live up to its expectations. According to Jon, the 10th edition of Dragon Naturally Speaking (arguably one of the most popular speech recognition programs available) is the first one that actually works.

“You can install the software on your computer, put on the headset and start talking without training the program to recognise your voice,” said Jon about Dragon Naturally Speaking. “There is a little secret that nobody tells you though. The hardware that you use, like the processor on your computer and the headphones, make a huge difference in the accuracy of the program. Most people who have trouble with speech recognition software are those who picked up their hardware at a cheap retail outlet and wonder why the program isn’t working – almost always the reason is they’re using the wrong hardware,” said Jon.

So there you go – one of the writers I’ve been following since I started working as a copywriter doesn’t actually write. If speech recognition can work for these top bloggers, it could probably work for anybody.