Our story pre-dates the incorporation of VocaLinks in 1998. Phil Huffman and Peter Butler worked together in what was then one of Canada's leading Apple Dealerships – Elm Street Appland. Our adventures with speech recognition software began with a discrete speech product called Power Secretary for the Macintosh (developed by Articulate Systems) and Dragon Dictate for PC (developed by Dragon Systems). Later, in 1997, Dragon Systems introduced the world's first commercial continuous speech product called Dragon NaturallySpeaking, now owned by Nuance Communications. While the products were primitive by today's standards, the productivity implications were very promising for those with physical keyboarding challenges and for professionals such as doctors and lawyers with detailed reporting needs.
VocaLinks began as a “virtual” company, operating from our homes in Toronto serving the professions such as lawyers and physicians and working with injured computer users. Speech Recognition technologies presented significant opportunities for computer users who had suffered loss of limb, stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy or impaired vision. It would be another three years before we identified that Dragon NaturallySpeaking was capable of providing substantial benefits to struggling students and adults impacted by reading and writing disabilities such as Dyslexia.
In 2001, staff at the Writing Aids Clinic at Bloorview Macmillan Centre (now Holland Bloorview) suggested that we investigate a text-to-speech application called Kurzweil 3000. Little did we know that this recommendation would trigger a pivotal change in our company. With Learning Disabilities affecting one in ten Canadians, the marriage of Speech-to-Text with Text-to-Speech software presented this community with tremendous opportunities for advancement in school, in social settings, and in the workplace.
In conjunction with Nuance Communication, VocaLinks Inc. has provided Kindergarten through Grade 12 Public Education in Ontario with province-wide access to Dragon NaturallySpeaking for Windows and Dragon Dictate for Mac. Our software offerings have grown to include writing tools such as WordQ, and organizational software such as Inspiration, all backed up by training from our experienced instructors. Since 2007 we have delivered more than 167,000 hours of professional services to our customers in all markets.
Today VocaLinks has a staff of 30, with 80% of our staff involved in coordination and delivery of services. Our new Toronto office opened in 2012 and houses a state-of-the-art training and demonstration facility, our warehouse, the VocaLinks Information Technology hub, and our administrative staff.
Every product we represent is thoroughly tested in both our lab and, more importantly, through real-world application in the field. Our depth of knowledge of the interactions between these technologies is one of the many strengths that distinguish VocaLinks from our competitors. Our wealth of experience and the diversity of our client needs enable us to apply our experiences with one community to the needs of another. For example, the technologies we have been using successfully in schools for many years are now frequently used to assist professionals and injured workers in their workplaces.
In a span of less than 20 years, speech technologies have become pervasive in our society. Consumers, be they individuals, small businesses, large organizations or governments, require expert advice. The mass-merchandising of technologies by large computer retailers and on-line marketers frequently results in end-user disappointment. In large part the disappointment stems from exaggerated or misleading marketing and sales claims, which lead to an unsatisfactory end-user experience.
At VocaLinks, we pride ourselves on recognizing that one size does not fit all!
- We recognize that people learn and embrace technology in different ways
- We believe that a thorough understanding of user needs is the key to recommending solutions that lead to end-user success.
- We strive to provide Superior Training and Support to maximize each customer’s benefit from their investment in software and hardware tools.
Today, Speech-to-Text and Text-to-Speech technologies accompanied by Professional Services are the bedrock upon which VocaLinks Inc. is built. Our Professional Services include needs assessment, training and support, proof-of-concept trials and pilot projects.
We also offer a variety of tools and services that complement our core technologies:
- We sell and provide in-context training for SMART Interactive Whiteboards and related teaching tools, which encourage group interaction aided by software.
- As a Philips Master Digital Centre - Enterprise, we are able to offer a full complement of Dictation and Transcription solutions that address the dictation workflow needs of everyone from individuals to multinational corporations.
- We offer a range of best-of-breed microphones and headsets to ensure that our customers are recording and listening to audio of the highest quality.
VocaLinks Inc. is committed to Unleashing the Power of People. We are pleased to be working on an ongoing basis with a diverse group of individuals and organizations in the following fields (and many more). :
- Small and Medium businesses
- Financial Institutions and Insurance
- Lawyers private practice, and law firms
- Students and their Parents
- Public and Private Schools
- Colleges and Universities - across Canada
- Boards of Education - across Canada
- Provincial Departments of Education - across Canada
- Physicians in Private Practice - across Canada
- Clinics and Hospitals
- Public Sector
- Municipal, Provincial and Federal Government
- Community Services
- First Responders (Police and Fire)
- Civil Service