a typewriter besides a book

Did you know that writing support is right at your fingertips?

If you use Windows 10 (new window)  or a handheld device, you can activate a key feature called voice recognition (new window), also known as speech to text, or Dictation. Simply talk to your device and it will translate your words into text or actions.

Dictation allows individuals to concentrate on the content of the message, rather than the process of writing, which can be a struggle for people with physical disabilities, as well as those with vision or learning disabilities, including ADHD (new window). Dictation improves access to writing devices, increases creativity and written production, and fosters independence, while in turn reducing anxiety, fatigue and frustration. With that said, dictation is a skill that takes time and practice to master in order to be able to efficiently dictate a complete and polished document.

a laptop on the lawn

Windows 10

Speech Recognition (new window) -This feature requires a short setup process, after which you will be prompted to print off a reference sheet that contains a list of voice commands that can be used with Windows 10. Once Speech Recognition is set up, you can use it to access your computer, type notes and other documents, and even browse online.

Cortana (new window) – Cortana is a digital assistant (new window) that comes pre-built into Windows 10. To enable voice activation, go to the start menu, type “Cortana and Search settings” hit enter, and turn on “Let Cortana respond to ‘Hey Cortana’ ”. While the speech recognition feature is great for navigating the more basic features of your machine, Cortana can do even more. Cortana can set up appointments, track flights, and she even acts as a dictionary. Just say “Hey Cortana, what is the definition of ____” and she will provide the definition and spelling of the word.

Smiling woman with an iPad


Siri (new window) – Siri, like Cortana, is a digital assistant that can do almost anything on your phone. Scheduling, emailing, browsing — all these tasks can be taken care of by pressing the home button, or, by saying “Hey Siri”. Before Siri can be activated by voice, however, you’ll need to go into “Settings”, then “Siri” and allow “Hey Siri”.

Dictation (new window) – This feature is built into all iOS products, and can be activated by pressing the mic button on your keyboard instead of typing. This feature is usually very accurate, and it can be an essential resource when writing emails or messages on the go.

Word Prediction – One major advantage of iOS devices is that they also offer word prediction, a feature that automatically predicts the next word that is going to be used in a phrase or sentence. By contrast, word prediction is a lot less common in Windows 10, and a lot of that has to do with the mobile nature of iOS devices.

An android phone on a table


Dictation – Just like with iOS devices, this feature is built into all Android phones, and can be activated by pressing the mic button on your keyboard instead of typing.

Word Prediction – This feature is also available to Android users. There is no set-up required to use this feature, as it comes automatically enabled across all models and types of smartphones.

Google Voice Search (new window) – Google voice search is a lot like Siri or Cortana; it can perform searches online, help you communicate with your contacts, and even adjust your phone’s settings. Google voice search can also be a great writing aid, as it can be used to search for the definitions of words online.


At their core, these devices offer similar features that can act as powerful writing supports for anyone struggling with writing.

Stay tuned as we continue to explore pre-built accessibility features in future e-bulletins! 

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