Our Training Makes The Difference!
December 2005   



We’d like to take a moment to thank all of our valuable clients for their continued support and business this past year. For those of you not yet one of our clients, we look forward to serving your needs in the coming year!



“Even with the best of intentions, SB 899 is paved with a road of quicksand for those unable to navigate through these complex statutes,” says Nick Roxborough, an employers’ rights lawyer. “While SB 899 should yield meaningful savings in the long run, employers will need to drive the process by becoming more involved in their claims handling process.

Major features of the complex law include:

  • Increase in permanent disability payment if employee is not returned to work
  • Decrease in permanent disability payment if employee IS returned to work
  • Provision for up to $2500 in reimbursements to small employers for permanent workplace modifications
  • Immediate medical care even if the claim is in dispute
  • Medical Provider Networks
  • Changes to the Qualified Medical Examiner process

Last year California's Workers’ Compensation system underwent major changes with the enactment of Senate Bill (SB) 899. Signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2004, SB 899 attempts to rein in skyrocketing workers’ comp insurance costs and litigation. But there seems to be a great deal of confusion about and misunderstanding of SB 899. We find that many employers are not aware of the benefits and penalties under SB 899.

SB 899 Permanent Impairment Benefits:

As stated above, employers will need to drive the process by becoming more involved in their claims handling process. Get involved early and keep your valuable employees! One way employers can directly control costs is via the Permanent Impairment Benefits. The Permanent Impairment Benefits states that within 60 days of the permanent and stationary determination, all employers must offer permanent regular, modified or alternate work within 85% of the pre-injury wages, or be subject to a benefit rate increase.

If an employer (over 50 employees) does NOT return an injured employee to work, there will be up to a 15% INCREASE in permanent disability payment and this will reflect back in terms of HIGHER premiums.

If an employer returns an employee to a modified job, there can be up to a 15% decrease in the permanent disability payment. This will reflect back in terms of lower premiums paid by employers who return employees to work. The long term savings in premiums (via lower experience/modification rates) could pay for the modifications over time.

In the long run, it makes much more sense to modify an employee’s workplace to make every effort to return them to work. The cost to hire and retrain another employee will far exceed the cost to return a valuable employee to modified work.

SB 899 Workplace Modification Reimbursements:

SB 899 also provides for establishing funds for the Workplace Modification Reimbursements program to entice smaller employers (50 employees or fewer) to seriously consider implementing modifications such as speech recognition. For injuries on or after July 1, 2004, qualified employers will be eligible for reimbursements from $1250 up to $2500 for both temporary and permanent modifications. To put it into context, speech recognition accommodations run from $1500 to $3500. Even with a $3500 accommodation for an injured worker, the net cost to the employer could be as low as $1000.

For employers with 50 or more employees, the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) administrative director is required to adopt regulations to establish a return-to-work program to promote the early and sustained return to work of employees following a work related injury. These regulations will include procedures for requesting reimbursement for workplace modifications. Announcements regarding this new program will be posted to the DWC web site when further information is available. You can find updated information at: (http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/WCfaqEmployer.html)

You can also find more information about how this program will be administered from the State of California website, Labor Code, 139.47 and 139.48 at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=lab&group=00001-01000&file=110-139.6. This program has not yet been funded but is expected to be funded in 2006. Without funding, employers may be less likely to provide accommodations to retain their valuable employees. This impacts both employer and employee in lost time, loss of productivity, increased costs and loss of revenue and income.


Companies that provide speech software to an employee with upper extremities injuries can usually return the worker to the same computer work. Speech recognition, or voice activation, will allow the injured worker to compute without using his/her hands so it is an essential component when finding an accommodation for alternate work. A speech recognition software solution is considered a permanent modification and has been very successful in keeping employees working.

Zephyr-TEC offers great cost effective solutions such as our live, online group training programs (eLearnSpeech™), San Mateo Fastrack (group training) and onsite training. Changes in Workers' Compensation laws provide for a decrease in permanent disability payments for offering modified work. Or for small businesses a cash reimbursement of up to $2500 for employee accommodations gives even more incentive for speech recognition software and training.

Zephyr-TEC's certified courses cover Dragon NaturallySpeaking as well as its integration into Microsoft Word, Outlook, Internet Explorer, Excel, and PowerPoint. Zephyr-TEC Learning Guides include useful instructions, helpful exercises, and Zephyr-TEC's indispensable macro sets. We also help integrate speech into custom programs or templates – let us know how we can help you.

Below are just some of the services and training courses offered by Zephyr-TEC to return an employee to their computer job with speech recognition software. Visit our website (www.zephyr-tec.com) for more information and download our full catalog of services and courses.

  • Speech Feasibility Studies can determine if speech recognition software can be integrated into proprietary applications and mainframe environments
  • Setup and Testing of Speech Software provides an optimal installation for best performance
  • Group Training Programs are held online (eLearnSpeech), at a certified Zephyr-TEC facility or onsite at your location (with a group of 4 or more)
  • One-on-One Training conducted at a certified Zephyr-TEC facility, online via eLearnSpeech or onsite at your location
    For more information, visit www.zephyr-tec.com or contact a Zephyr-TEC office

When Leigh Hood, Director of Technical Product Development at a large, San Francisco-based financial services firm, was participating in the redesign of the company's public web site, the designers wanted to include features that required users to roll their mouse over text to expose additional marketing copy and to change the background color. Leigh objected, and explained that users of Dragon NaturallySpeaking would not be able to use those features effectively by voice. As a result, the new web site is less mouse-dependent and more accessible to speech-recognition users.

Leigh's expertise with Dragon began in 2002 after she developed tendonitis. She started as a Zephyr-TEC student with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 6. Making the transition from hand use to speech-recognition was not easy. "I had to really discipline myself not to reach for the mouse when under time pressures," she says, "and to use the book to look up the commands." Leigh has since upgraded to version 8, and she is happy with the improved recognition.

Leigh’s injuries are healing, and she adds "my colleagues are amazed that I can login to our web site, place a trade, and manage my brokerage account using only my voice. It's so futuristic."

WinScribe, developer of the world’s most widely used digital dictation system, has announced the release of WinScribe 3.6.

“WinScribe is committed to delivering the best digital dictation solution providing fast document turn around as well as accurate and seamless transcription for our customers worldwide,” said Matthew Weavers, Managing Director of WinScribe. “The new WinScribe solution is a result of in-depth consultations with our sales partners and our clients, especially those in the healthcare and legal professions."

WinScribe 3.6’s new features include

• Increased compatibility with peripheral devices, allowing greater choice for handheld recorders and microphones. WinScribe 3.6 now supports VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) allowing customers to make Internet calls directly to the WinScribe server, dictate directly to the WinScribe system, and bypass the need for transcription equipment.

• Integrated processing - WinScribe 3.6 provides the opportunity to shift the speech recognition processing from the desktop to a central server. Allowing the central server to perform the work reduces the need for high specification client computers.

• Improved password protection ensures confidentiality can be protected.

• More author interface options allow customers to choose an interface that is easy to use, including a new web uploader that works from an Internet browser wherever they are.

• Improved organization - WinScribe 3.6 allows the transcriptionist to make the completed document immediately available for the author to read.

For more information, visit www.winscribe.com or contact Zephyr-TEC.

SAVE BIG $$ on Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8 Licensing!
For each open license order placed on or before December 29, 2005,
you will receive a 10% DISCOUNT!

  • Special offer valid on OLP orders only. Not valid on boxed product, brown bag product, technical support or upgrade assurance.
  • Special offer valid on Regular, Government and Academic OLP orders only.
  • Valid only on OLP orders for the following products: Dragon NaturallySpeaking Preferred 8, Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional 8, Dragon NaturallySpeaking Medical 8 and Dragon NaturallySpeaking Legal 8.

GN Netcom Rebate
GN is offering a competitive upgrade rebate check. If you already own a GN Netcom headset or amplifier OR own a competitor’s headset or amplifier (like Plantronics) AND you buy a GN headset or amplifier from Zephyr-TEC, you can receive up to $20 back from GN. Visit GN Netcom or contact Zephyr-TEC.

Microsoft Office products and most Windows applications have keystrokes that perform common actions without the mouse. To find the built-in keystroke shortcuts, go to the program’s help menu and search for keystrokes, shortcuts, or keyboard. For use with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, say "press" and then the keystroke combination. For instance, in Microsoft Word say "press control shift k" to turn on SMALL CAPS. And with Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional, Medical, or Legal, you can create a step-by-step command to execute the keystrokes.

If you're not sure how to write a step-by-step command consider purchasing
our Fastrack Learning Guide for NaturallySpeaking. Along with tons of
information, there are instructions on writing step-by-step commands as well
as a CD containing hundreds of Zephyr-TEC's proprietary productivity
commands. In fact, we make it easy for you to write step-by-step commands
with our own NaturallySpeaking commands that help you write commands without
your hands. Visit our web store and purchase the Fastrack Learning Guide

If you need help creating a command or need a special command written for
you, contact our sales team (info@zephyr-tec.com) for more information.
We've created thousands of commands for our clients and helped them be as
productive as possible with the software. Harness the power of speech today!

Zephyr-TEC has personnel located in the San Francisco Bay Area,
Los Angeles/Southern California, Phoenix area, Las Vegas, and Seattle

Northern California: 800-822-1816
So. California, Arizona, & Nevada: 877-493-7497
Washington: 888-540-5999
General Email: info@zephyr-tec.com
Web: www.zephyr-tec.com

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