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Court Reporting / Video Conferencing / Transcription
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How Do Court Reporters Transcribe?

The stenographer took shorthand

Court reporters are a regular part of litigation and all court proceedings. Many trained litigators, however, couldn’t tell you how court reporters actually operate. Professional court reporters are more than experienced typists–they utilize expertly-honed skills and rely on specialized equipment to accurately transcribe fast-paced, complex dialogue in real-time. Continue reading to learn about how court reporters operate, and reach out to our qualified and detail-oriented Phoenix court reporters for deposition services throughout the state of Arizona.

Required Court Reporter Training

In order to be a court reporter, a candidate must do more than learn to type quickly on a standard keyboard. Court reporters must fulfill general requirements and standards at a court reporting school that has been certified and accredited by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to enroll, and many schools have additional prerequisites concerning data entry skills. Court reporting school includes training on keyboarding, machine shorthand, legal terminology, medical terminology, vocabulary, law, scientific terminology, dictation, and even ethics, among other things. Students must also take speed-building classes–225 words per minute is the bare minimum just to pass keyboarding.

Court reporters must obtain their degree from an accredited school and obtain a Certified Shorthand Reporter license to qualify as a court reporter. States have different requirements for licensing, but prospective court reporters typically take an extensive written exam and a performance test.

The Specialized Equipment

Court reporters generally use specialized equipment known as a stenotype machine rather than a standard keyboard. These machines have evolved significantly since the original invention, but they still use the concept of keys that can be pressed simultaneously to capture words, sounds, and phrases quickly. The stenotype has 22 black keys and more closely resembles a piano than a standard QWERTY keyboard.

Stenotypes utilize a combination of phonetic sounds to generate words, rather than relying on spelling. Court reporters can thus transcribe words that they’ve never heard, such as complex names. Being able to type multiple keys at the same time allows reporters to keep up with fast-paced dialogue and complex jargon. The original phonetic transcripts are then fed into computer programs that translate the phonetic sounds into proper captions of the dialogue. With the advent of laptops and digital programs, this translation from phonetics into captions can happen essentially in real-time, allowing for hearing-impaired individuals to follow along with court proceedings. Finalized, reviewed transcripts can easily be transmitted via email.

If you need premium, professional, and dedicated court reporting services in Arizona, contact the Phoenix offices of Ottmar & Associates at 602-485-1488.