The UDL Educational Technology Guide 2019-2020: Technology for Special Education

John F. O'Sullivan

Section 2 Speech to Text


In the old days, we had to buy a two-hundred-dollar speech to text program that was installed on one computer that could be used only in that classroom. To get the program to work, the school had to purchase a higher-end program and train the program to understand what you are saying. If you had an accent, it did not work. If you poorly pronounced words, it did not work. 

Today speech to text is often free; you can use a lower-end microphone, it works if you have an accent and you can use it across settings. The advantages of technology are many. 

The biggest problem today is that students do not want to be different. Everyone is different. Everyone has something they are not good at. The technology is more seamless and much less intrusive. We still can’t make everyone feel good about it. All we can do is try our best. 

Google Documents’ Voice Typing Best of Class Hidden Gem Author’s Pick  Game Changer 

Google Documents, also known as Google Docs, has speech to text that is free. Most humans have a Gmail account these days. Most people with disabilities and people that work with them have this great free technology already. What you should do is buy a headset with a microphone. I recommend one that connects with a USB port. 

Dictation (Mac) Hidden Gem 

On a Mac, there is free speech to text. It is not on every operating system. 

iPad 3 and higher has Dictation (speech to text) built in. All you have to do is click on the microphone on the keyboard for it to work. The older iPad 2 does not have speech to text built in. iPad 4 and higher have a smaller charger. (The iPad 3 is not very common.) The iPad 2 has a wider charger.

To enable Dictation (speech to text) Settings > General > Keyboard > Dictation 

Being able to use speech to text with a number of apps can be a real advantage for some people with a reading and/or writing disability.  It can also be an advantage for a number of struggling learners. 

Note: Speech to text (Dictation) is a function of the iPad 4 or higher. It can be used with these apps but is not caused by the app. 

Window Speech Recognition

This is an absolute hidden gem. Many schools pay money for a program like this, and they already have it for free. It comes with most versions of Windows. I find it on PC computer about three-quarters of the time.


This is an add-on for Microsoft Office. With Dictate, you can talk, and it will type what you are saying. Most people do not know that Microsoft has a second speech to text program specifically for Office.


Voice To Text Notes App
This speech to text Chrome extension gets some great reviews. 

Speechnotes - Speech To Text Notepad 
This is a note-taking app that has speech to text. The app gets outstanding reviews and is very easy to use.



Free online speech to text on a website.

Online Dictation

This is a free online speech to text.

Google Play Apps

Voice notes

This is a very highly rated speech to text app.

Speechnotes - Speech To Text

This is a very popular and widely downloaded speech to text notetaking app.

Voice Notebook

The app does what the name says. You talk, and the app takes notes.

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