You’ve just received your latest assistive technology software or digital audio recorder to help you write letters, manage your daily tasks, control your in-house database or record your dictated speech. However, without training on how to use it… 

???   How useful will your solution actually be to you   ???

???   Does it work with your applications   ???

???   Will you be able to use it to its full capability   ???

We asked an experienced software trainer at Freedom of Speech Ltd, who is (amongst other qualifications) a Dragon Certified Instructor and Texthelp Certified Trainer to comment on these, and other questions. This is what they had to say:

“I would estimate that a user would only be 50% effective in their understanding of a new software application without formal training i.e. if they just had the manual or Help file to refer to. Imagine asking a new car owner who had not received driving lessons to drive from London to Edinburgh! A good trainer is able to show you all of the features of an application or device so that you can use the it effectively. Unfortunately, many software applications are supplied with lengthy and not very user friendly manuals leaving you no further forward.”

“A good trainer condenses how an application works into understandable, ‘bite sizes chunks’ of information and teaches you at your own pace ensuring you have understood a topic before moving onto the next one.“

“They will also ensure that you are shown all of the functionality of a new application and how it works in your system. For instance, a good Dragon NaturallySpeaking trainer will create new voice commands to operate your in-house applications by voice. An experienced Mind Manager trainer will show you how to create visual project maps for the specific topics you need to work on.”

If you do receive training, what qualifications should the trainer have?

“Ensure that the trainer has the appropriate qualifications or experience for the specific applications and devices that they are training you on.”

“For example, if you are going to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking ‘speech recognition’ software, ensure that your trainer is a Dragon Certified Instructor (normally known by the acronym DCI). They should be able to provide a copy of their DCI certificate to prove it. If you are going to use Texthelp Read & Write ‘text-to-speech’ software, ensure that your trainer is a Texthelp Certified Trainer. They should be able to provide a copy of their Texthelp training certificate to prove it.”

“By doing so, you have the reassurance that they have the necessary knowledge and experience to teach you how to use your solution effectively and in your environment.”

Do all training companies in the UK offer a high level of qualification and experience?

“Unfortunately not. There are a number of training companies in the UK who simply sell cheap training and provide sub-standard courses that are either not long enough (i.e. just a couple of hours!), provided by non-qualified staff (who don’t know their subject matter well) or do not meet the user’s specific needs. I often receive feedback from clients that have approached us after receiving poor quality training from other companies and feel like they can’t use their software properly. We are then able to turn their experience into a positive and effective one.”

What advice do you have when considering buying training services?

“My advice is that, when you in a position to book your training, phone a reputable training company, such as Freedom of Speech Ltd, and ask them to confirm their qualifications & experience (don’t be afraid to ask for copies of their training certificates). Ask them how they will tailor their training to your requirements. If you are in doubt, simply approach another training company that can provide you with a more suitable trainer.“

Do I have to use the company recommended in my assessment report?

“If you have been through the Access to Work scheme and have been provided with an assessment and subsequent report, you do not have to necessarily be trained by the company suggested in the report. You are able to phone the list of companies given (you should have a choice of at least 3) or other reputable company and see which one is most suited to your needs.”

What other services should I expect from a training company?

“Ask the company before you buy training from them, what technical support they offer after the training courses are complete. Many companies do not offer support on the product they train on. If you have a problem or query, who would then contact to help? As an example, if you bought a new car, you would expect a warranty with it to ensure the car keeps running after you have bought it…why should software training be any different?”

“Ensure that the training company has a dedicated technical support helpdesk (which is not normally something that 1 person companies can provide) that you can phone with any training or technical queries you have. Freedom of Speech Ltd provide this service as a standard part of their training service, free for 12 months after training.”

Freedom of Speech Ltd only employee qualified, experienced software trainers. We offer technical support after each training course to ensure that your software & hardware solutions work today, tomorrow and into the future. Contact us for pricing and availability…and even copies of our training qualifications and client feedback!

AuthorJames Kirk