What do You think - Can Speech recording replace Touch-typing?

For the past ten years, I was told we no longer need to learn to touch-type since speech recording will replace it. Just the other day, I had a discussion with someone who works for an IT company with approximately 1,000 users. The person claimed touch-typing is no longer needed since her friend - a solicitor - records all his correspondence with a voice recording system. When I asked why her company does not yet employ speech recording but still types using the keyboard, she looked at me astonishingly and was unable to answer.

No doubt, voice recognition is a great tool, for example, for an author sitting alone in their office. 

But let’s have a closer look at why speech recording has not yet conquered the working world, although it has been on the market for the past decades. There are many reasons for that, and we are going to look at just a few of them. 

The main reason is you have to feed the system verbally. Many employees work in an open-plan office. Imagine the noise when all users talk the whole day to enter their correspondence into the system. Apart from the noise, the system often inserts text spoken by a colleague sitting right next to the person who is dictating their text into the computer. This creates strange sentences which need to be corrected manually. The male name Karim, for example, is easily interpreted as the female name Karin. Now imagine your name is Karim and you receive a letter greeting you with “Dear Karin”, including a trial pack of sanitary towels. This is not a joke; it really did happen! 

Another disadvantage of speech recording is everybody around you is listening. If you want to or not, you must listen to the conversation when someone sitting right next to you is speaking on the phone. Therefore, confidential correspondence must be typed into the PC when people surround you. How should a lawyer use voice recording in the waiting area of an airport or on a train? 

There are jobs where you simply cannot use speech recording, for example, an employee working at a helpdesk. When accepting an inbound call withing with a headset, you cannot use a dictation system to take notes from the caller. A client of ours is a psychologist, and she told me she could not work with a speech recorder because if her patient sits opposite her, she cannot dictate into the system, “The patient is a psychopath…” without risking her life.

At a course the other day, I typed all my notes almost word for word what the speaker was saying. During a rather dull moment, I had the idea to test the quality of my speech recording system built into the program. Since I didn’t have an internet connection in the conference room, I received the message that I would first have to go online to use this service. So, I went back to touch-typing. Furthermore, I imagined the moment when 26 participants would employ voice recording. Of course, they cannot; instead, 23 of them were writing with pen and paper, and three young people (in their 20s) were writing on their pads with a tablet pencil. You cannot use speech recording to take notes when it is quiet in the auditorium, and the instructor is speaking. 

Clients of ours who use various voice recognition systems told us they want to learn to touch-type since speech recording is not suitable for their work environment. They had to “teach” the program all the technical words, make too many corrections, and face various technical issues. 

I tested a program myself and had to dictate very slowly and clearly. By then, I could have typed the text much quicker since I didn’t have to speak it out loud. I know the words in my thoughts and enter them as they come to mind. Besides these, there are many more fail criteria. 

Some programs offer transcriptions during meetings, courses, or events. Everyone who reads the reproduction will appreciate how much work it is to review the transcript and make all the amendments by hand. By that time, I would have typed the entire content simultaneously.

Conclusion: As long as I am faster and more accurate with my touch-typing system than speech recording, I see no benefit in changing it. Therefore, I believe it is still essential for all PC users to learn to touch-type, 


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