Special Needs User Support

20 October, 2006 at 7:42 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

I love my job.

I did say, once upon a time, that I wouldn’t post about my work, but stuff it. I can’t imagine I am going to get the sack for telling people about what I do.

I am employed by a rather large “company”, as the Special Needs User Support and Assistive Technology Solutions Officer. That means that for the 4000+ employees of my employer, I look after those with Special Needs. This can include people suffering from OOUS (Occupational Over Use Syndrome, AKA Repetetive Strain Injury), visually or hearing impaired persons, and those with mobility issues. It’s a great job; lots of investigating and developing solutions for those who find it difficult to operate computers or other equipment as a result of their impairment/injury/illness.

I also get to play with lots of new “toys”.

Today I received a new telephone headset for a “trial”.

 The majority of my clients suffer from OOUS, and as such, it is recommended they limit the amount of keying or mousing that they do when using a computer. One solution to this is the use of Voice Recognition Software, in particular, Dragon Naturally Speaking. Users can dictate documents, emails, and basically control most of their computing needs with the use of voice. There are some limitations, and it does take a little while to get into the mindset of “dictating” to your computer, rather than typing.

 To dictate into your computer requires a headset/microphone, and typically, you only need the one headset. For those who spend alot of time on the phone, and use a telephone headset, swapping headsets based on momentary needs (ie. you are in the middle of dictating a document with Dragon, and your phone rings. So you have to take off the Dictation headset and replace it with the telephone headset, only to remove the telephone headset and re-place the dicatation headset once you have finished your telephone conversation) can be really frustrating, and time consuming (not to mention wrecking your hairstyle (for those who have hairstyles…I have little enough hair that it wouldn’t bother me)). Having two headsets can also create additional mess with more cables strewn across the desktop, getting caught under chairs, and flopping onto the keyboard.

Solution: A multi-purpose headset. Sounds simple, right? Nope. Dragon requires a very high level of signal to successfully transcribe anything that is dictated, and a normal telephone headset is simply not up to the task.  One product seemed to fix all the issued described above. It is cordless, with a huge range (around 100mtrs), and when coupled with a “SelectSwitch”, offered the ability to select whether it was being used with the phone or the PC. The signal quality was suitable for use with Dragon Naturally Speaking, and until now, has been the foremost solution to the problems experienced by users of Dragon who spent alot of time on the phone. The “SelectSwitch” created its own problems. As anybody into electronics/electrics can tell you; the more joins in a circuit, the poorer the end result.

 Today, I received the new toy. A headset that has a built in select switch. Cool.

 Same great range (bluetooth systems don’t appear to have the same signal quality as good old RF frequency systems), same functionality, and no external select switch. And the signal received by Dragon is really high quality

I know to most of you, you’d be saying “well…..um….that’s great, gruntski… thanks for that information…”, but to me, it offers my clients a whole new vista in the Voice Recognition/Telephony arena.

And that, my friends, is my job.



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  1. It sounds like a great job to me — anything where you get challenged on a regular basis, don’t do the same exact thing day in and day out and actually get to make a difference in people’s lives is pretty awesome. And you get to play with toys 🙂 Have fun with this newest one.

  2. Indeed! I hope that I can one day carve out a job like this; one which mixes my diverse and often conflicting interests.

  3. It’s great to hear you’re loving your job Grunter!

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