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Windows Speech Recognition

Windows Speech Recognition is built into Windows 7 and above. It lets you control your computer  and also dictate text. You can start speech recognition by clicking on:

  • Start > Control Panel > Ease of Access > Speech Recognition​

Or if you can't get to the Control Panel on your computer, try:

  • Going to the desktop and press the Windows key + U, then choose Use the computer without a mouse or keyboard, and then click Use Speech Recognition.

To help you get started, refer to:

These resources take you through:

  1. Setting up your own user profile and the microphone.
  2. Going through an interactive tutorial.
    • The tutorial takes about 30 minutes to complete and is worth doing because you learn about the software and about how to use speech recognition. You don't have to go through it though - you could just start using speech recognition immediately. Also, when you go through the tutorial, you are not training the system to recognise your voice - even though you might think that you are.
  3. Training the computer to recognise your speech.
    • This takes about 5 minutes. Again, you don't need to go through this step, but we strongly recommend that you do because the accuracy of the system will be much better.

Learning to use Windows Speech Recognition

Before you introduce speech recognition to a student, learn how to use it yourself by going through the tutorials and resources above. For teaching students, we the procedure outlined in  Speech Recognition as AT for Writing, by Daniel Cochrane and Kelly Key, which uses the following approach:

  1. Consider It! - Is SR an appropriate tool for the student and the learning tasks? Not every student can use SR, and you can't necessarily use it for every learning task.
  2. Try It! - SR is not magic. You must teach the student to use SR, and to compose and dictate.
  3. Assess It! - What does SR offer compared to handwriting, typing or other writing tools?
  4. Implement It! - If SR looks like it is a viable tool, how can it be introduced into class and at home?


A good headset microphone is essential for speech recognition. We suggest you buy a mic with a USB plug such as the Andrea NC 181 USB which we think is more reliable than headsets with jack plugs. There are many other mics that you can use - see the Dragon Approved Mics for microphones that have been tested for use with Dragon - these will be good for Windows as well. 

Reading back what you have dictated

Unlike Dragon or WordQ+SpeakQ, Windows Speech Recognition does not have text-to-speech for reading back what you have dictated. Proof-reading your dictated text is essential, so you really do need to have a text reader on your computer. There are many options available, such as WordTalk or the built in Word Speak button, free general purpose text readers such as MiniReader, Orato or Natural Reader, or commercial products such as Read and Write Gold or ClaroRead. Take a look at Craig's video on how to read back dictated text with Orato and Balabolka.

As well as a text reader, you should also install the high quality Scottish voices that are free for Scottish state-funded schools.