A blue book-shaped box that says Dragon Professional Individual 15

Dragon Dictation (Dragon Pro Individual 15)

£279.99 from nuance.co.uk, provided for me free by Disabled Students Allowance

Dragon Dictation is the industry-leading dictation software. I was lucky enough to get this through Disabled Students’ Allowance, and it’s changed my engagement with academic work (and these reviews), allowing me almost error-free dictation.

Dragon Dictation has improved enormously since I started using it about 8 years ago. Back then it was almost impossible to get a single sentence out of it, whereas now I can use it to dictate complex posts, with very few errors.

It still struggles with errors – and this is a problem because over a certain number of errors the effort involved in fixing it would be more than the effort it took just to type the document out for me. I can use my NIPPY while typing, but that doesn’t work so well with dictation, and I can both type and dictate to a certain extent before needing a bit of a break.

These later versions of Dragon are far better at learning what you’re trying to communicate – from how I prefer to do my abbreviations to common words and phrases I use – which means that the more you work with Dragon the fewer errors you’ll get.

Dragon Dictation doesn’t just dictate documents, it allows for an infrastructure of controlling your computer. You can use it to open and close programs, navigate around windows, tabs, and documents, scroll, and click. Whereas in the past it just replaced your keyboard, it now replaces your mouse as well.

While I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone working while using NIV, if you’re able to produce a clear voice, it can be a lot easier than typing. It’s only been with these newest versions that I’ve found that it’s easier to use it than not. It does take time and training to see the benefits, but if you put the work in, it can pay off.