Hands Down, Dragon Dictates

Two years ago, I decided to end a decade of pain that visited me before I ever typed enough keystrokes to complete a blog post, email, twitter update or essay. I agreed to see a hand specialist for what is known as “basal joint arthritis” of my left hand.

Maybe the hardest part of blocking out 8 to 10 weeks of post-surgical recovery I was told to expect was what to do about my obligations at the keyboard. Would I have to abandon my book, blog and board-of-directors correspondence for the better part of a season?

I had used Dragon Naturally Speaking back when I was a PC guy, but gave the program up in 2008 when I switched over to the MAC side.

What I was delighted to discover was that Nuance had not abandoned Apple product users, and Dragon Dictate for Mac’s capabilities seemed well suited to give me back my “voice” at the keyboard during my handicapped months.

Weeks before the surgery, I sent myself to “school” learning the keyboard voice shortcuts for the kinds of text management I routinely required. The final week at the keyboard before surgery, I made myself keep my left hand in my pocket so I would have to depend on speech-to-text to get my work done.

Dragon Dictate for Mac gave me back a sense of control and actually kept me productive during my orthopedic adventure. So when the other hand required the very same surgery a year later, I knew I need not stress about keeping up.

Producing with speech what you usually create with your hands takes some getting used to. The effort is well worth it. You’ll be glad you let Dragon Dictate.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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