Dictation symbol: microphone.
Guide

Microsoft’s new dictate “speech-to-text”

Dictation: The modern way to write!

Dictation allows the student to use speech-to-text to write content in a document. This requires a microphone (can be the device’s built-in microphone or an external microphone) and a reliable internet connection. Dictation is quick and easy; most students already use dictation for texts and even emails. Does your student use dictation to create drafts, capture notes, and make comments?

Who should use dictation?

As educators, we often relate dictation as a tool for students with motor disabilities. However, all students should learn to use the dictation feature as an efficient way to complete homework assignments.

Best practice dictates that students should always learn how to write (using paper/pencil, a braille writer and/or refreshable braille display. Students who are pre- or emerging readers may also have fun with dictation to develop story telling skills when story telling is the goal, not writing. Students with low vision who are prone to eye strain or headaches may prefer to use dictation to ease the visual strain on their eyes. Older students who have mastered reading and writing may find that dictation is a quick and easy way to complete homework assignments.

It is important to note that while dictation can be used in the classroom, it may be distracting to other students. If using dictation in a classroom, the student will need to learn to quietly dictate and may need strategies to determine when it is or is not appropriate to use dictation in the classroom.

Microsoft Word dictation

Microsoft Word has dictation available for Microsoft 365 products. While signed into Microsoft 365 on a mic-enabled device, dictation is found in the ribbon under the Home tab, second button from the right.

To grant access to the microphone on a Mac:

Go to System Preferences > Security and Privacy > Privacy > Microphone, and allow access for Microsoft Word. You may be asked to quit Word and restart.

When activated, a popup with an x (close popup), Microphone, settings, and Help icons appear. The focus is on the Microphone icon and dictation is automatically started. You will hear an ascending chime to indicate the start of the dictation and a lower, descending chime when dictation is stopped.

Screenshot of an Apple computer's ribbon with annotated arrows pointing to Dictation button and the dictation symbol in the popup menu.

Dictation with a screen reader

Windows

Mac

iOS

Punctuation voice commands

Typically, punctuation commands are said out loud. Example: To add a ? (symbol) say the word, “question mark”. You can also say commands, such as “delete” or “pause dictation”. Want to see a list of punctuation words and commands? Go to Microsoft’s website for the full list of commands.

Another option is to select Auto Punctuation which uses pauses in the dictation to determine the punctuation. Speak naturally and fluidly for best results!

Windows screen reader: Auto punctuation

Languages

By default, dictation is set to your document language in Microsoft 365. Numerous languages are available.

Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft OneNote has recently added dictation for Macs. To use dictation:

Data not stored

Microsoft does not store your audio data or transcribed text.

by Diane Brauner

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