If you’re using Windows 7 or Windows Vista speech recognition, you might find the following program indispensable: Voice Finger. It was developed by speech recognition user Robson Cozendey in response to the limited range of the Mouse Grid and multiple syllables required for keypress commands. Instead of a broad 9 square grid that must be progressively narrowed, Voice Finger uses a 44×44 grid that appears to cover the entire screen, so as to reach the click target immediately. You can reduce the syllables of keypress commands by saying A, B, C and so forth, rather than using the “press” command. You can likely do other things, but since I’m using XP I couldn’t install the program to review it fully. I can, however, say that I would prefer Voice Finger to Dragon’s Mouse Grid any day.
I do want to say, though, that this program is an example of what assistive tech users need: empathy. Cozendey wrote this program entirely by voice, knowing what it’s like not to have a mouse or keyboard at the ready. All I can do is contrast this with the Nuance employee who seriously said how hard it was to test an issue without a mouse connected, or the proposed solution to Dragon’s occasionally clicking the wrong number flag in multiple Firefox choices: just use the mouse. We’re going to need programmers with disabilities to design, to consult, if we want programs that truly meet our needs without cutting corners. People who use assistive technology every day are going to have a more intimate knowledge of it, and an attention to details and inconveniences that programmers without disabilities might overlook because they don’t need to use such and such a feature.