Using Dictation in the Classroom: Mac OS and IOS

Dictation is a voice-to-text feature giving students the ability to talk to his/her device rather than type.  Dictation is available anytime there is text field or the virtual keyboard is on the screen.  Dictation must be turned on in Settings and Internet is required.

To Enable or Disable Dictation

Launch the Settings App > General > Keyboard > Scroll down to Enable Dictation

Using Dictation

  • The Dictation button is physically located to the left of the space bar. Simply tap the Dictation button and start speaking.  When you are finished speaking, tap Done button.  
  • If you are using VoiceOver and the VoiceOver focus is on the text field, simply use a two finger double tap to start and stop dictation.
  • If you are using a refreshable braille display and the VoiceOver focus is on the text field, 1+5+6+space will start and stop dictation.
  • If you are using a Bluetooth keyboard paired to your iOS device, press the Hide/Show Keyboard button (located in the top row of most Bluetooth keyboards) to bring up the on-screen keyboard.  Then, activate the dictation button to the left of the space bar.

Dictation is frequently used when texting, inserting text when doing an Internet search, and for other quick text input activities.  Dictation is a mainstream feature and is an efficient means of inputting text for many people; students who use VoiceOver, young students who have not yet mastered keyboarding or spelling skills, and for students with physical disabilities frequently find that using dictation is the most efficient method of inserting text. Diction can save a lot of time!

When using dictation, punctuation commands and symbols are verbally spoken.  Example: "Where are you (question mark)"

Dictation and Education

Many students love dictation as it is a quick and easy method of inputting text.  It is important to consider the goal of the student's current activity to determine if dictation is an appropriate tool to accomplish this goal.  Using dictation beside peers during a spelling test is probably not a good idea!  However, using dictation (or Siri) to quickly input text to complete an Internet search is an efficient way to accomplish the goal, allowing your student to keep up with his or her peers during a class activity.  For most students, using dictation to write a report is not the best method to input the text.  However, there are some students who are unable to type; using dictation to write a report may be the best and/or only way method for these students to write the report.  Be sure to discuss with your student when - and why - dictation should/should not be used.

It is important to encourage students to include good grammar and punctuation when using dictation.  Students who rely on listening to screen readers (without refreshable braille) can become sloppy with punctuation and students who use dictation when texting, often get into the habit of taking shortcuts and dropping punctuation.  

Be sure to proofread after dictating!  When using VoiceOver, use a split tap when deleting characters.  (Drag a finger to and hold the finger on the delete button.  Tap the screen multiple times with a second finger.)

Here is a detailed list of the dictation commands:

Dictation Commands

  • All Caps – Completely capitalizes the next word.
  • Caps – Capitalize the beginning of the next word.
  • Upper Case (Letter) – make the next letter upper case.
  • Caps On – This turns on Caps Lock.
  • Caps Off – Turn Caps Lock off.
  • No Caps – No capital letters in the current word
  • Numeral (Number) – This types a number instead of the word for that number.
  • New Paragraph – Create a new paragraph.
  • New Line – Create a new line at the current insertion point.
  • No Space – Force dictation to not put a space between the next word.
  • No Space On – Force dictation to not put spaces after words.
  • No Space Off – Start putting spaces after words.

Punctuation and Special Character Commands

  • Period
  • Comma
  • Question mark
  • Reverse question mark
  • Hyphen
  • Dash
  • Em Dash
  • Exclamation Point
  • Underscore
  • Open Parenthesis
  • Close Parenthesis
  • Open Square Bracket
  • Close Square Bracket
  • Open Brace
  • Close Brace
  • Colon
  • Semi Colon
  • Ellipsis
  • Quote
  • End Quote
  • Back Quote
  • Single Quote
  • End Single Quote
  • Double-Quote
  • Apostrophe
  • Slash
  • Back Slash
  • Tilde
  • Ampersand
  • Percent Sign
  • Copyright Sign
  • Registered Sign
  • Section Sign
  • Dollar Sign
  • Cent Sign
  • Degree Sign
  • Caret
  • At Sign
  • Pound Starting Sign
  • Yen Sign
  • Euro Sign
  • Pound Sign
  • Smiley Face or Smiley
  • Frowny Face, Frown or Sad Face
  • Winky face or Winky
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