Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Using ZoomText With Dragon NaturallySpeaking

I am familiar with ZoomText but was not sure if it was compatible with Dragon NatInstalling and Using AIM for Facebook Chat With JAWS Screen ReaderurallySpeaking (DNS). So I tried both on a Dell laptop (ZoomText Reader/Magnifier 9.1; Dragon NaturallySpeaking Preferred 10.1; Dell Laptop with 2 GB RAM, Intel Core2 Duo CPU T5850 @ 2.16GHz 2.16GHz, Win XP SP3). They seemed to behave well together.
You do need to pay attention to the system requirements for these applications because they require more processing power and memory than conventional productivity applications. With my setup, DNS consumes about 300 MB of memory, ZoomText about 53 MB and Microsoft Word about 37 MB. I am also running McAfee which sometimes demands about 177 MB of memory and about 66 MB at other times.
I was able to dictate into a Word document and then invoke the ZoomText AppReader to highlight and read the text that I had dictated; I was also able to select some text and say, "Read That," to have DNS read it. What ZoomText didn't do was echo each word that was typed (I had the Typing Echo option set to Word) but that's understandable given that DNS outputs text in phrases/chunks, and by navigating through the text (e.g. word-by-word with Control Left/Right Arrow), ZoomText reads the text. Notice that the DNS Read That command does not highlight/identify the particular word being read as ZoomText does with its AppReader and DocReader tools.
I was also able to give ZoomText commands by voice (e.g. Press Control Numpad Plus to increase the AppReader's reading rate, or Press Alt Numpad Plus to increase magnification) and the commands were correctly recognized by DNS and processed by ZoomText.


While researching the compatibility of DNS and ZoomText, I learned that there is a software application called MagniTalk that supposedly acts as a bridge between DNS and ZoomText. I found several hits on MagniTalk using Google but they all referenced the same vague marketing blurb that states, "MagniTalk provides direct speech access to the ZoomText user interface (UI) with NaturallySpeaking Pro voice commands, serving as a bridge between these two exciting technologies. This means that users of the ZoomText Magnifier & Reader can more easily benefit from the advantages provided by Dragon NaturallySpeaking, continuous speech recognition software." I haven't been able to determine what features MagniTalk really provides and why it is needed on top of DNS and ZoomText. One additional piece of info I found said, "allows the coordinated use of the Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice input program and the Zoomtext screen magnification program."
Note that MagniTalk requires DNS Professional as it is likely using the scripting capabilities included in that version of DNS. The Preferred/Premium version lacks this feature.
Still, by learning a few ZoomText hotkeys, it is possible to work quite efficiently with both ZoomText and DNS. Many ZoomText users are likely already familiar with the hotkeys. Trainers tend to encourage their use because it makes using ZoomText more efficient. DNS processes keyboard commands well though I found found a few glitches that you should pay attention to; see the ZoomText Hotkeys section below.
So I don't think DNS Preferred/Premium users should despair. For the average user, Magnitalk isn't required. Note: Magnitalk costs $290US.

ZoomText and DNS Settings

Spend some time experimenting with the different ZoomText tracking settings. You might find that the following work for you:
  • Tracking
    • Track on: Mouse Pointer, Text Cursor, Menus, Controls Windows
    • Area to track: Entire Screen
  • Alignment
    • Mouse pointer: Within edge margins (15%)
    • Text Cursor: Within edge margins (15%)
    • Control and menu item: Centered within the zoom window
  • Mouse
    • Route pointer into view when it is moved
    • Route pointer over the active control
Note that after modifying ZoomText settings, you must select Save As Default from the File menu to save the settings for future sessions.
These DNS options are recommended:
  • View
    • DragonBar Mode: Docked To Top, Show Messages
    • Then create a Freeze Window for the DragonBar. This will allow the DragonBar to always to appear in the magnified window so you can observe e.g. microphone status, message line. The size, position and magnification level of the Freeze Window can be adjusted; it sits on top of the Full zoom window while the Full zoom window continues to scroll and display all areas of the screen. Create the Freeze window as follows:
      • ZT Magnifier menu, Freeze Window... dialog box
      • select the left-hand side so the microphone status and the message line will always be in view; if your magnification level doesn't permit both the mic status and message to remain in view, select only the left-hand side of the message area
      • use "Press Control Shift E" to enable/disable Freeze Window
      • note that the Freeze Window only works with the Full zoom window type and you cannot interact with it i.e. if a DragonBar menu is visible in the Freeze Window, you cannot bring the keyboard focus to it or click it with the mouse -- you need to navigate to the part of the screen that contains the actual DragonBar to interact with it.
    • Results Box: uncheck Anchor to allow Results Box to float around the window as you dictate
  • Commands
    • Require "click" to select hyperlinks in HTML windows
    • Require "click" to select menus and control
  • Miscellaneous
    • Use screen reader compatible menus
    • Use Active Accessibility for menu and dialog control

Using the DNS Correction Menu

To display the Correction menu, select the text you want to correct and say "correct that" or say "Press Num Pad Minus" or press Num Pad Minus key on the keyboard.
Voice commands that work in this dialog include:
  • "Press down arrow" to highlight an alternative and "Press Enter" to activate it OR "Press <number of alternative>" to both select and activate it e.g. "Press one"
  • "Press Alt P" to play back your dictation; the advantage of using this hotkey is that you won't hear ZoomText speak the name of the menu item and its tutor message
  • "Press Alt S" to open the spell dialog box; for best results, use the radio alphabet to spell the word(s)

ZoomText Hotkeys

Below are what I consider to be the most useful ZoomText hotkeys. You can issue these by voice with DNS. Keep the following in mind:
  • giving these commands to DNS by voice will increase the response time slightly over typing the commands directly via the keyboard
  • be sure to precede each of these hotkeys with the word "Press" (e.g. "Press Alt Shift Q")
  • do not pause in the middle of one of these commands; pause before and after
  • if DNS is not recognizing one of the modifier keys when speaking multiple keys, try switching the order e.g. I've had better success with "Press Alt Control W" than with "Press Control Alt W"
  • if DNS is misrecognizing a letter, use the radio alphabet e.g. "Press Alt Control Whiskey"
  • DNS won't accept a single modifier (e.g. "Press Control"); fortunately, you can use "Press Alt Shift Q" for the Quiet command
  • if you are using a laptop that lacks a Num Pad, you may have trouble speaking the ZoomText hotkeys that use "Num Pad 5"; you can work around this by modifying the hotkey for these in the Hotkeys dialog box that's found in the Settings menu e.g. change "Control Num Pad 5" to "Control ; (semicolon)" for the Say Current Word command.
  • AppReader: Alt Shift A
  • DocReader: Alt Shift D
  • Toggle Reading (Play/Pause): Enter
  • Exit AppReader/DocReader: Escape
  • Quiet Speech: Alt Shift Q
  • Increase Reading Rate: Control Num Pad Plus
  • Decrease Reading Rate: Control Num Pad Minus
  • Increase Magnification: Alt Num Pad Plus
  • Decrease Magnification: Alt Num Pad Minus
Document Navigation
  • Next/Previous Word: Control Right/Left Arrow
  • Next/Previous Line: Down/Up Arrow
  • Next/Previous Sentence: Alt Control Right/Left Arrow
  • Next/Previous Paragraph: Control Down/Up Arrow
  • Scroll Down/Up: Alt Down/Up Arrow
  • Scroll Right/Left: Alt Right/Left Arrow
  • Jump Up/Down: Alt Page Up/Down
  • Say Window Title: Alt Control W
  • Say All: Alt Control A
  • Say Time: Alt Control I
  • View Mode On/Off: Control Shift V
  • Speech On/Off: Alt Shift S
  • Enable/Disable ZoomText: Alt Insert/Delete
  • Display User Interface: Control Shift U
  • Open Magnifier Menu: Alt M (when UI has focus)