It's a fact. Interacting with our electronic devices by using our voices instead of typing has come of age. Voice recognition technology took a long time to mature, but it has arrived and is easy to use. Mouse and keyboard are still our primary input devices and probably will continue to be for quite a while, but speech recognition and voice input is available on nearly everything now. It's a great accessibility tool for patrons with physical disabilities. Here's a little how-to primer on one of the more universal free services: Google Voice Typing in Google Docs.
To use Google Voice Typing, you just need a computer or mobile device, Internet connectivity, a free Google account, and a microphone — if your device doesn't already have one.
Using Google Voice Typing on a Computer
You can connect just about any type of microphone to a computer using either the line-in input or the USB port. Many desktop and laptop computers already have internal microphones. The hole for the microphone usually has a small graphic of a microphone or the word "Mic" under it. If your public access computers don't have internal microphones, many people can use the earbuds with microphones that they already use with their cellphones. Amazon apparently has over 10,000 of them starting at $3.
To turn on your microphone or make sure that it's working, use the microphone settings that are typically in the System Preferences on a Mac or the Control Panel on a PC.
Steps to Get Going with Google Voice Typing
After you've checked that the microphone works, here are the next steps:
Open a document in Google Docs in a Chrome browser. Google Voice Typing may not be available or work in other browsers.
Choose Tools > Voice Typing. A microphone box will appear.
When you're ready to dictate, click the microphone.
Speak as clearly as you can, and at a normal volume and pace.
When you're done, click the microphone again.
Voice Typing is a bit different than regular talking because it requires you to say words for the punctuation marks you want. You say "period," "comma," "exclamation point," "question mark," "new line," and "new paragraph."
Here is how I would dictate the following sentence: "It is much easier to dictate what I want to say in a document than to type it all out period."
Here is TechSoup for Libraries special contributor Phil Shapiro's sly "Laziness Skills" YouTube demonstration on how to speak when using Google Voice Typing.