That’s Not What I Meant!

Smart phones with onscreen keyboards are nothing new. When they were first introduced, however, there was a great deal of concern from those who were blind or partially sighted. How would we enter text without tactile feedback on these gadgets? Could we see the keyboard clearly enough to enter text? What if we accidentally touched letters or other things without intending to?

The short answer? We adapted. With the help of a modified set of controls first introduced on IOS, we were able to use an onscreen keyboard. In its most basic form, letters are either entered when a user double taps on one, or when the finger is lifted off a letter, depending on the user’s preference. Not as fast as our sighted counterparts, but enough to get things done and provide more equal footing. But then came a new feature which increased that productivity even more: dictation.

Many people, both blind and sighted, are by now familiar with that little microphone icon that sits quietly in the corner of your keyboard, if enabled. Tap it, dictate what you want entered, and tap it again. Not only is this a great use for people with none or low vision, it’s also a tremendous help for people driving, or for whatever reason cannot keep both eyes and hands on the phone to type.

Sounds like a great help, right? Well, it is. Until we remember that voice recognition is still imperfect, and a computer can only interpret your voice with a certain degree of accuracy, especially if you are whispering, or in a noisy environment, or a myriad of other things. Many times, we forget to double check our texts, emails, and social media to make sure we send what we intended, and the results can be spectacularly different, leading to no shortage of confusion, a very Canadian “eh?” or simply just 😕😕😕 in response. We have compiled 10 examples that have been generously shared. Have you ever made similar mistakes?

NOTE: Reader discretion is advised.

1. When cannibalism might not be the best approach

Original Statement: It was nice meeting you!
Dictation Result: It was nice eating you!

2. Whoops, false alarM

Original Statement: See you later.
Dictation Result: Help me, I’m in danger.

3. When your phone decides you should be extra polite

Original Statement: “Relative to our previous discussion,”
Dictation Result: “Answering your precious question,”

4. I didn’t know my phone was in control instead of me

Original Statement: It’d be great if you could do it!
Dictation Result: Did you ask me if you could do it?

5. Not quite what a friend might expect you to be doing

Original Statement: I’m doing math in my living room.
Dictation Result: I’m doing meth in my living room.

6. This is a little fishy

Original Statement: “Fish and chips and vinegar”
Dictation Result: “Fish and whips and anger”

7. The oven would be a lot warmer

Original Statement: “Are there trays in the oven?”
Dictation Result: “Are there trees in the oven?”

8. Might not alleviate any fears someone may have

Original Statement: I have a guide dog.
Dictation Result: I have a guard dog.

9. Blind Beginnings volunteers have it happen too

Original Statement: I’m doing some reading and research for Blind beginnings.
Dictation Result: I’m doing some reading and research for blending innings.

10. Not the kind of impairment your Uber driver needs to know about

Original Statement: I’m visually impaired, I’d appreciate it if you could find me when you arrive!
Dictation Result: I’m usually impaired, I’d appreciate it if you could find me when you arrive!

So, there you have it. Whether blind or sighted, this is a problem we all share, especially when we’re in a hurry. So, if you’re sending a text, take that extra second to double check your phone and you are on the same page. If you are on the receiving end of someone who wants to discuss the porpoise of life, they are probably not talking about a sacred magical animal. Happy dictating!

by Clement