Accessibility & Technology

Are You A Dictator?

Feb 4, 2020

Are You A Dictator?

There is something magical about dictation. Spoken words are rapidly turned to text. The instantaneous nature is pretty amazing, but the best thing is dictation takes the place of typing.

Whether you have a visual impairment, or not, typing on a tiny touchscreen keyboard is a tedious task. That is why more and more people are becoming dictators.

In Apple iOS and Android devices, Dictation is available whenever there is a keyboard on screen. The Dictation button is the key with the microphone icon, left of the Space Bar. If the microphone key is not on your Keyboard, first go to Settings and click General, next click Keyboard, now go to Enable Dictation  and turn on.

Here are the steps for dictating with iPhone or iPad (they may vary in Android devices).

  • Tap on the Dictation button (the microphone key is located left of the spacebar, in iPhone 8 and earlier models, and at the lower right corner in iPhone X or later models).
  • Be prepared to start speaking following the single ding tone.
  • Finish speaking and tap again, you will hear a second single ding and your spoken words will appear in the text field.

(With Apple’s VoiceOver screen reader use a two-finger double tap to activate Dictation, and a second two-finger double tap to stop, VoiceOver then reads the text aloud.)

A highlighted search bar and dictation button on the iPhone search screen.

A highlighted search bar and dictation button on the iPhone search screen.

Speak clearly for best results. In noisy places try using ear buds with a microphone. Transcripts are often imperfect, correct errors or delete all and try, try again.

To include punctuation, just say so. Finish a sentence with a “period” or a “question mark.” Follow a salutation with a “comma“ or a “colon.”  Also say, “new line,” new paragraph,” “all caps,” “apostrophe,” “hyphen,” or “exclamation mark.”


Apple iPhone dictating a text message, "Don't put it off, start dictating today!"

Apple iPhone dictating a text message, “Don’t put it off, start dictating today!”

Practicing can actually be fun, so go ahead and do it.  You’ll be a Dictator in no time!

Originally published on July 27, 2017, and updated on February 4, 2020.

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About the Author: Dorrie Rush

Dorrie Rush is the Chief Content Officer and Visual Accessibility Expert at Ophthalmic Edge Patients (OE Patients), an online resource, presented by the Association for Macular Diseases, providing practical information and empowering advice for living a full and successful life with vision loss.

She is the former Director of the Grunwald Technology Center and Information Resource Service at Lighthouse International 2001 to 2016. Dorrie is known to have an eccentric view, which is particularly useful in compensating for her central vision loss from Stargardt Disease.



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