IDRC - Celebrating 25 Years

1993 - 2018

Continuing Our Work During COVID-19

Read the letter regarding COVID-19 by IDRC Director, Jutta Treviranus.

Supports for complying with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

How do I make my web site accessible? How do I make my office documents accessible? How do I make information available in alternative formats? Businesses and organizations read our AODA Help.

RT @CoLabCoOp: What better way to spend your Thursday than with @Benetech @idrc_ocadu and us? Exploring how to shift power in tech through…
FluidProject RT @colinbdclark: Join us at the PPIG 2020 workshop hosted by @idrc_ocadu in Toronto to explore the margins of programming. Who has agency…

an image of a earphone and microphone headset Index

This list of products and resources is for reference purposes only and does not reflect endorsement by the IDRC.


Voice Recognition allows a user to use his/her voice as an input device. Voice recognition may be used to dictate text into the computer or to give commands to the computer (such as opening application programs, pulling down menus, or saving work).

Older voice recognition applications require each word to be separated by a distinct space. This allows the software to determine where one word begins and the next stops. This style of dictation is called discrete speech. Many people (especially those with learning disabilities) prefer these systems to the newer continuous speech.

Continuous speech voice recognition applications allow a user to dictate text fluently into the computer. These new applications can recognise speech at up to 160 words per minute. While these systems do give the user system control they are not yet hands-free.

Voice recognition uses a neural net to "learn" to recognize your voice. As you speak, the voice recognition software remembers the way you say each word. This customization allows voice recognition, even though everyone speaks with varying accents and inflection.

In addition to learning how you pronounce words, voice recognition also uses grammatical context and frequency of use to predict the word you wish to input. These powerful statistical tools allow the software to cut down the massive language data base before you even speak the next word.

While the accuracy of voice recognition has improved over the past few years some users still experience problems with accuracy either because of the way they speak or the nature of their voice.

Points to ponder - Questions to consider when shopping for voice recognition software

  • Is it compatible with your computer's platform?
  • What is the learning curve of the software?
  • Does it integrate with existing word processing software?
  • Does it ship with its own microphone?
  • Does it have macro compatibility (that is, can you program simple commands that can be used to execute more complicated series of operations)?
  • How fast is it?
  • Do you need a remote model?
  • Will you need a USB microphone (since it comes with its own sound card)?

Voice Recognition for Windows

Voice Recgonition for Macintosh

  • IBM ViaVoice from Nuance - available in two different editions: Mac OSX and Simply Dictation
  • MacSpeech has a line of speech recognition products (which enable the user to control the operating system) called Dictate.
  • MAC OS X Leopard comes with Apple Speech Recognition , which allows the user to control their operating system. OS X Leopard also comes with VoiceOver, part of the 'universal access' within the Mac operating system, a screen reader that describes onscreen activity and a speech control feature for the keyboard.
  • For interest or reference: The MAC OS X Accessibility page has a complete list of OS X Accessibility features.

Commercial Speech Recognition Software (Speaker Independent Voice Recgonition)

Automatic Speech Recgonition from Loquendo

icommunicator Voice Recgonition Software from ICommunicator

Digital Voice Recording Products

These products allow a user to dictate text which can be translated at a later date by a voice recognition system.


Adaptive Technology Interface

  • Next Generation Technologies
    • J-say Pro is a product which addresses the needs of visually impaired people who are unable to use the keyboard, or who want to take advantage of the additional functionality provided by the product.


VoiceXML is to be the standard with which voice applications are developed on the Internet. It will be created by combining several mark up languages that already exist, which are based on the XML standard.

Online Resources