Speech-to-text reporter

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This article is about Speech-to-Text Reporters who are human beings reproducing speech into a text format onto a computer screen at verbatim speeds for deaf or hard of hearing people to read. It is not about speech recognition or predictive text which are computer systems.

A Speech-to-Text Reporter (STTR), also known as a "captioner", listens to what is being said and inputs it, word for word, onto an electronic shorthand keyboard. The keyboard is linked to a computer which converts the shorthand syllables to properly spelled words.[1]

There are two types of keyboard used in the UK, the Palantype system and the Stenograph system. Unlike a QWERTY keyboard, not every letter in a word is pressed, but several keys will be pressed at once which represent whole words, phrases or shortforms. Specially designed computer software will then convert these phonetic chords back into English which can then be displayed for someone to read. The text is displayed either on the screen of a laptop for a sole user, or projected onto a large screen or a series of plasma screens for a larger number of users. An STTR produces a verbatim account of what is said at speeds in excess of 200 words per minute and also gives extra information, such as {laughter} or {applause}, to keep the user informed of the mood of the hearing, meeting or conference. This system can also be used for subtitling and closed captions in television broadcasts or Webcasts.

The computer software can use a pre-programmed vocabulary specific to the context, information that matches syllable clusters to written forms, and may suggest alternative captions from which the STTR chooses. Errors occur from the STTR mishearing the words and from the need for the STTR to make a decision before an ambiguous statement is made clear by what is said next.

The Professional Association for STTRS is the Association of Verbatim Speech-to-Text Reporters. The Council for Advanced Communication with Deaf People and the Royal National Institute for the Deaf also give more information about STTRs. Speech-to-Text Reporters are also sometimes referred to as Palantypists and Stenographers.

What will a service user see on the screen?[edit]

Every word that is spoken will appear on the screen in an accessible format, although one can request a change in the colour and font size. As well as every word spoken, the words "NEW SPEAKER:" will appear to denote when the speaker changes. If one sends the STTR the names of people attending your conference or meeting before the event, they, too, can be programmed into the computer, making it easier for one to recognise who is speaking. Other phrases, in curly brackets, may also appear, such as {laughter} or {applause}, to denote relevant events.

Occasional mondegreen errors may be seen in closed-captions when the computer software fails to distinguish where a word break occurs in the syllable stream. For example, a news report of a "grand parade" might be captioned as a "grandpa raid". Mondegreens in this context arise from the need for captions to keep up with the fast pace of live television broadcasts.

History[edit]

Many STTRs began their careers in the Courts and were known as Court Reporters, where the system was used to record proceedings and provide transcripts when requested. The skills developed in this area have also made them invaluable in the field of communication with deaf people, as they are used to producing work with an extremely high degree of accuracy and acting with complete discretion at all times. An STTR expects to reach consistent levels of accuracy of 98% and above.

Training[edit]

In order to become an STTR one needs extensive training, typically two years, on one of the specially designed keyboards (Palantype/Stenograph) and the associated software, plus at least a further two years of practice, building up speed, accuracy, dictionary/vocabulary and gaining experience. Only then is one ready to undertake the Unitised CACDP Examinations and become a member of the CACDP Register, which will confirm that one has reached the required minimum standard. The majority of Registered STTRs are also Members of the Association of Verbatim Speech-to-Text Reporters.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Closed Captioning Web". Captions.org. 2006-02-13. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 

External links[edit]