my competition entry:
My name is Tom, four years ago I was just finishing university in London. My degree was electronics and electronic engineering and I was heading for a first and had a contract with a leading research and development UK telecommunications company. On holiday in Bulgaria visiting my girlfriend who was on an Erasmus course I had a snowboarding accident and obtained a spinal cord injury at C4 vertebrae. I became permanently paralysed from the shoulders down.
I was rehabilitated at the National spinal injuries centre at Stoke Mandeville hospital and during my 15 months of rehabilitation I regained my efficiency with IT using various accessible technologies but in the end settled for just voice recognition using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. The reason I settled with just Dragon rather than a multitude of accessible technologies was for the portability. With no other hardware than simply a microphone, Dragon was the most portable option.
During my time in rehab I kept in touch with my university and prospective employer. I was allowed to graduate with a first and university undergraduate award on the strength of my university performance throughout three years and my dissertation. The human resources Department of my prospective employer kept a keen eye on my progress and I completed various small software development projects whilst in hospital using Dragon NaturallySpeaking from my hospital bed. In particular I developed an assistive technology switch-based device to enable someone with reduced manual dexterity to use the mouse on a computer.
The capability of Dragon to control every aspect of an operating system was a life changing facility. I am able to perform all functions on the computer just as before my accident and even use voice recognition to improve the accuracy and speed of my written word. I now use a multitude of different software development tools with the assistance of Dragon and its powerful script extensions.
While still an inpatient at hospital I attended an assessment day at my prospective employer to gauge whether I would still be of use to them. They decided I would be and on discharge from hospital I started a career as a software engineer.
I am still a software engineer at a leading research and development UK telecommunications company. I have worked on various telecom projects for UK providers and other networking projects for UK and international customers.
I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5 on two laptops and one desktop with two headset earpieces and scripts to isolate one listening system at a time. I interact remotely with a number of other systems via terminal applications. I have even recently bought a Mac to try Dragon dictate and I’m looking into the iPhone capability as a portable microphone.
Without Dragon NaturallySpeaking my life would not be as rich today as it was four years ago.