It’s been a while since Carin or I has mentioned Dictation Bridge, which in case you’ve forgotten is a free, open source piece of software designed to help those who need it much more easily use speech recognition in conjunction with a screen reader. The project hit its funding goal in 2016, and after nearly two years of development and testing, version 1.0 has finally been officially released for use with both JAWS and NVDA.
The following are key highlights of DictationBridge that the team who created it feel are most important:
- DictationBridge works with both NVDA and Jaws, affording the DictationBridge team the privilege of serving 78.5% of the screen reading community with a dictation solution that can be freely learned from, freely distributed, and either used as-is or modified to meet the computing needs of a single end-user or a group of end-users. Prior to DictationBridge, NVDA users had no accessible way to control either Windows Speech Recognition or the Dragon line of products from Nuance and now they have access to both.
- Furthermore, Jaws users had no accessible way to control Windows Speech Recognition, and they had only one solution for controlling Dragon. Now they have not only a solution for controling Windows Speech Recognition, but they also have a solution for Dragon which they can freely learn from, freely distribute, and either use as-is or modify to meet their needs.
- DictationBridge does not change your screen reader setup in any way unrelated to dictation. If you install an NVDA or JAWS update, it will not effect the version of DictationBridge designed for your screen reader and DictationBridge will in turn not change any plug-ins or scripts, including the defaults when you install it. With DictationBridge, there’s no more waiting for your dictation support to catch up with the latest version of your screen reader and there’s no potential for DictationBridge to accidentally insert bugs into the default behavior of your Screen Reader of choice.
- DictationBridge for both NVDA and JAWS provide all of the features a user would expect in a fully featured dictation plug-in or set of scripts and configurations. DictationBridge echoes back the text you’ve dictated, it provides access to the user interface for both Windows Speech Recognition and the entire line of Dragon products and includes a full sweet of other cool features you can read about in the DictationBridge documentation.
- DictationBridge is the first ever dictation solution for screen readers to include an extensive collection of verbal commands that users can employ to control their screen reader and do various other tasks with the Dragon line of products from Nuance, as well as with Windows Speech Recognition. The DictationBridge team designed this part of the package to make it very easy to add new commands and to modify those that we provide. It even supports navigating the entire web with only speech!
- DictationBridge, NVDA and Windows Speech Recognition are all available at no cost to end-users, their educators, their employers, governments or anyone else.
- Care has been taken while developing DictationBridge to ensure that it can be easily translated into languages other than English. This affords DictationBridge the possibility to be translated into any of the 35 languages supported by Windows Speech Recognition, and any of the more than 43 languages supported by NVDA which correspond with those supported by Windows Speech Recognition. Whether you’re dictating in a language other than English, or whether your entire Windows interface is in a language other than English, you’ll be able to use DictationBridge in your preferred language once there is a translation available for it, without maintaining separate software licenses for your screen reader to cover non-English interfaces. We believe all blind people, no matter where they live or what language they speak natively should have access to the software they need and DictationBridge is a part of that overall goal.
- Because DictationBridge is free, libre open source software (FLOSS), it is not only available gratis to all who care to use it, DictationBridge affords the community the freedom to add to, modify, learn from, repurpose or do anything else they care to do with the software moving forward. People with programming skills can look at the source code as it currently stands for both the Jaws and NVDA versions, along with the DictationBridge core code, by browsing to this GitHub user profile and selecting the appropriate repository. DictationBridge provides true freedom with a lower case “f.”
- Documentation is just as important as the software itself. You will find DictationBridge’s documentation to be among the highest quality available you’ve ever read.
- Finally, the DictationBridge team recognizes that it is often necessary for screen reader users to use more than one screen reader throughout a day’s computer use. Consequently, DictationBridge is capable of handing off its functionality between screen readers, provided you have both the NVDA and Jaws versions installed.