Introducing Voice Dictation and Voice Commands
One of the most exciting new features in Access 2002 (and the entire Office XP suite) is voice dictation and voice-activated commands. If your computer is outfitted with a sound card, speakers , and a microphone (or a microphone with an earphone headset), you can dictate information into your Access tables. You also can use voice commands to activate the menu system and toolbars in Access.
Before you can really take advantage of the Speech feature, you must provide it with some training so that it can more easily recognize your speech patterns and intonation . After the Speech feature is trained, you can effectively use it to dictate text entries or access various application commands without a keyboard or mouse.
Requirements for Getting the Most Out of the Speech Feature To make the Speech feature useful, you will need a fairly high-quality microphone. Microsoft suggests a microphone/headset combination. The Speech feature also requires a more powerful computer. Microsoft suggests using a computer with 128MB of RAM and a Pentium II (or later) processor running at a minimum of 400MHz. A computer that meets or exceeds these higher standards should be capable of getting the most out of the Speech feature.
You may wish to explore the other lessons in this book if you are new to Access before you attempt to use the Speech feature. Having a good understanding of how Access operates and the features that it provides will allow you to then get the most out of using the Speech feature.
Training the Speech Feature
The first time you start the Speech feature in Access, you are required to configure and train the feature. Follow these steps to get the Speech feature up and running:
When you finish working with the Microphone Wizard, the Voice Training Wizard appears. This wizard collects samples of your speech and, in essence, educates the Speech feature as to how you speak.
To complete the voice training process, follow these steps:
You are now ready to use the Speech feature. The next two sections discuss using the Voice Dictation and Voice Command features.
The Speech Feature Works Better Over Time Be advised that the voice feature's performance improves as you use it. As you learn to pronounce your words more carefully , the Speech feature tunes itself to your speech patterns. You might need to do additional training sessions to fine-tune the Speech feature.
Using Voice Dictation
When you are ready to start dictating text into an Access table, put on your headset microphone or place your standalone microphone in the proper position that you determined when you used the Microphone Wizard. When you're ready to go, select the Tools menu and then select Speech. The Language bar appears, as shown in Figure 1.5. If necessary, click the Dictation button on the toolbar (if the Dictation button is not already activated or depressed).
Figure 1.5. Dictating text into an Access table.
After you enable the Dictation button, you can begin dictating your text. Figure 1.5 shows text being dictated into an Access table. When you want to move to the next field in the record that you are dictating, say "tab." Numbers are dictated as they appear; for example, if you wished to enter the phone number prefix of 555, you would say "555." If you need to put a line break into the text, say "new line." Punctuation is placed into a table (in cases where you are creating a field that requires punctuation marks) by saying the name of a particular punctuation mark, such as "period" or "comma."
How Do I Insert the Word "Comma" Rather Than the Punctuation Mark? Because certain keywords, such as "period" or "comma," are used to insert punctuation during dictation, you must spell these words out if you want to include them in the text. To do this, say "spelling mode," and then spell out the word, such as c-o-m-m-a. As soon as you dictate an entire word, the spelling mode is ended.
When you have finished dictating into the document, click the Microphone button on the Language bar (the second Microphone button from the left; the first is used to select the current speech driver, which you can leave as the default). When you click the Microphone button, the Language bar collapses, hiding the Dictation and the Voice Command buttons . You can also stop Dictation mode by saying "microphone."
You can minimize the Language bar by clicking the Minimize button on the right end of the bar. This sends the Language bar to the Windows System Tray (it appears as a small square icon marked EN, if you are using the English version of Office and Access).
With the Language bar minimized in the System Tray, you can quickly open it when you need it. Click the Language Bar icon in the System Tray, and then select Show the Language Bar.
Using the Dictation feature correctly requires that you know how to get the Speech feature to place the correct text or characters into your Access table. For more help with the dictation feature, consult the Microsoft Access Help system (discussed in Lesson 10).
Using Voice Commands
Another tool the Speech feature provides is voice commands. You can open and select menus in Access and even navigate dialog boxes using voice commands.
To use voice commands, open the Language bar (click Tools, Speech ). Click the Microphone icon, if necessary, to expand the Language bar. Then, click the Voice Command icon on the bar (or say "voice command").
To open a particular menu such as the Format menu, say "format." Then, to open a particular submenu such as Font, say "font." In the case of these voice commands, the Font dialog box opens.
You can then navigate a particular dialog box using voice commands. In the Font dialog box, for example, to change the size of the font, say "size"; this activates the Size box that controls font size. Then, say the size of the font, such as "14." You can also activate other font attributes in the dialog box in this manner. Say the name of the area of the dialog box you want to use, and then say the name of the feature you want to turn on or select.
When you have finished working with a particular dialog box, say "OK," (or "Cancel" or "Apply," as needed) and the dialog box closes and provides you with the features you selected in the dialog box. When you have finished using voice commands, say "microphone," or click the Microphone icon on the Language bar.
Believe it or not, you can also activate buttons on the various toolbars using voice commands. For example, you could sort your Access table by a particular field by clicking in that field and then saying "sort ascending ." The Sort Ascending button on the Table Datasheet toolbar becomes active and your table is sorted by the selected field.
In this lesson, you were introduced to Access 2002 and some of the new features available in this latest version of Microsoft Access such as task panes and the Speech feature. In the next lesson, you learn how to plan an Access database and start the Access software.