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Auditory and Dictation Tools




In our digital machinery age, we find ourselves surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands of accessibility tools– so many, that it can be hard to choose or know which ones to use. Of course, it depends on what task you are trying to do–or however, you learn best– it is important to use the right tool for the job after all. In this article, I will discuss some of the best tools for auditory learners.


Spotify-

To start, let's look at Spotify Premium's audiobook subscription which starts at $11/mo, and with that, you have access to over 375,000 titles. This can be beneficial for anyone who processes information better via audio as opposed to visually. Also, the user interface is easy to navigate, even for those who are not yet well-adjusted to technology, thus making it accessible to many age groups.


Libby-

Very similar to Spotify’s audiobook function, is Libby, which is a digital library catalog that works through our local Fresno County Public Library. This can be seen as more accessible than Spotify’s audiobook program, as Libby is free, and Spotify is not.


Hoopla-

And, very similar to Libby, is Hoopla, which is also free if you have a Madera or Tulare library card. It also works through a library system (again, like Libby) and it allows users to borrow books immediately. It also has an app version and is available on Apple and Android devices.


Speechify-

Finally, we have Speechify which differs from the previous three listed, as it is a Chrome extension that will read text aloud. You can also upload PDFs of textbooks, and it can read those aloud as well. Some features are, however, locked behind a paywall of $139/y, but with the free version, one will have access to 10 standard reading voices, listening at speeds up to 1x speed, and basic text-to-speech features.


According to Hannah Grace, Spotify, Hoopla, and Libby are prefect for the e-book reader, but Libby is her favorite because “it’s a great app for keeping track of all your reading through your local library...It keeps track of all your library cards, but what’s cooler than that is the “shelf” function. With this, you can keep track of everything that has been loaned out to you, is on hold for you, or that you’ve tagged (if you tagged something, it means that maybe you’re interested in reading it or want to check it out soon). It also keeps a timeline of what you’ve borrowed so you can know when books are due as well as what you’ve read recently if you want to recommend your recent reads to a friend. Additionally, the Libby app allows you to browse through books with filters to specify exactly what you’re looking for, such as audiobooks, books, magazines, ‘available now,’ available for kindle, and ‘skip the line.’”


Again, tools like these can be very beneficial for those who learn better via audio as opposed to those who learn visually.


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Talking comes much more naturally than writing, as it is an activity people engage in daily, unlike writing. To help ease the writing process for those who prefer to express their ideas verbally, we have identified some transcription tools that can lay the groundwork for their writing.


Descript-

Descript is a versatile Chrome extension and Mac app that transforms audio and video into text, streamlining content creation. It automatically transcribes recordings, complete with punctuation, while allowing for easy removal of filler words. This tool is especially beneficial for those who find manual transcription challenging, offering an efficient alternative to traditional typing. Descript not only saves time by enabling users to speak freely without the need to jot down notes but also facilitates the organization and editing of thoughts post-recording. Additionally, Descript provides a free version, making it accessible for a wide range of users.


Zoom-

Zoom's recording feature, enhanced with an added transcript, presents a valuable tool not only for students looking to revisit discussed concepts but also for simplifying note-taking. By highlighting who said what, the transcript facilitates easy referencing. Furthermore, Zoom's functionality is especially beneficial for those who favor verbal communication, ensuring every insightful thought shared during a session is captured. This feature not only enriches the learning experience but also guarantees that no valuable idea goes unrecorded, enabling a comprehensive review at any time.


Speech Notes-

Speechnotes is a speech-to-text tool comparable to Descript and Microsoft Word, requiring users to vocalize punctuation marks. It provides a visible template for punctuation and commands, such as saying "new paragraph" to begin typing on a new line. Uniquely, it ignores filler words like "ums" in speech. Users can create, save new notes, and easily copy-paste text to other applications, streamlining the documentation process in an intuitive, efficient manner.


Word-

Microsoft Word introduces a speech-to-text feature, accessible via a microphone icon, allowing users to vocalize their thoughts directly into text. This tool is particularly useful for individuals looking to capture their ideas without the constraints of typing, offering the convenience of immediate content generation. Following dictation, the text can be refined using Word's Editor tool, simplifying the editing process. However, a notable limitation is the necessity to verbally indicate punctuation, such as saying "period" or "comma." This requirement may hinder the flow of speech and necessitate significant editing for longer dictations, especially in adding correct punctuation.


These tools assist in the transcription process and help start the writing process. Each has its unique attributes, and one tool may be more appealing than another, depending on the task and the individual's preferences. They can be particularly beneficial for those who prefer to articulate their ideas verbally before committing them to writing.

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