Voice Finger is a free program that extends Windows speech recognition. The author reports that he uses speech recognition to save keyboard using, being a person with repetitive strain injury (RSI).
The program has a number of shortcuts for key use, like “up thirty” for “move the cursor key up thirty times.” But more interestingly is an alternative for mouse clicking.
Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking – the main speech recognition product – and Microsoft Speech Recognition (Vista and Windows 7) both have a grid mechanism, where you trigger the splitting of the screen into nine numbered sections, then select a section which is split into nine numbers sections, then select another and so on until you are where you want to click. This process of “drilling down” is simple but cumbersome. Windows Speech Recognition gives you another mechanism where you can have every interactable element (text area, button, link and so on) suddenly don a number so you can select it quickly.
Voice Finger gives you another option: it lets you overlay the whole screen with a very fine grid, 44 by 44 cells, labelled from “00″ in the top left corner to “;;” in the bottom right. You just say the label, e.g. “az”, and the mouse is moved and clicks there. So you can jump quickly to an arbitrary point on the screen.
If you’re already a Dragon user, you’re probably best with what you know. If you’re a user of Windows Speech Recognition but have good eyesight (that grid is pretty fine) and want some quicker ways to do things then this is worth checking out.
As always, the number one tip for using speech recognition is get a good quality USB microphone. Don’t expect anything usable from your standard microphone jack!
Finally, if you’re not familiar with speech recognition, here are some great videos at AbilityNet on speech recognition.