Hi guys, I'm not sure if this has come up as a thread before but we've been asked by one of our stations to look into using re-speaking instead of, or as well as, steno for live captions. Does anyone have any experience they could share?

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Apologize in advance for what may be a dumb question, but is "re-speaking" the same as "voice-writing?"

I know that there are some very successful voice captioners. I also know that there are many who are not skilled enough to be on air, but are anyway! That is true of stenocaptioners, too, of course. I guess what comes immediately to my mind are the ShopNBC and Home Shopping Networks. They had trained steno and voice captioners but decided they wanted to save money and went "in house." When they did so, they were advertising for people to "voice" their broadcasts and basically said minimal training, no experience, and the pay was about $13 an hour.

Well, if you want to see what that resulted in, turn on your captions for HSN or SNBC and you will see that it is a disaster.

Other than that, I know nothing about it. I have all the respect in the world for voice writers who have put in the hours and have the dedication to train their voices and their software to produce a quality real time translation. I know it cannot be easy. From what I understand, much like steno writers, they have to constantly work on their skills to keep the quality high.

I have been told by a consummate professional and amazing voice writer that the dividing line for voice is about 180, that it requires an intense dedication and perhaps a natural ability, too, to be able to voice at the higher speeds and still maintain a good output. I think being able to make each word distinct, beginning and ending and so forth, becomes extremely challenging beyond the 180 point.

But actually, after writing all that, I have to admit that I really know nothing about it! LOL I hope some experienced folks CAN shed some light on the question.
Hi Jill, thanks for your comment. I can't believe people are expected to work for $13 per hour??

What's happening here is that a local station has begun to cut the stenocaptioners and use voice instead as they're cheaper to run and easier to recruit. However, the captions aren't as good, but that doesn't seem to matter to the station.

Now our station has asked us to consider using voice instead of steno, but as we're a stenocaptioning company I want to say no immediately, but felt I should get some opinions or information from some people with more knowledge than me on the topic!
I think if the station does not care about quality, then unless the captioning consumer rises up en masse to STRENUOUSLY OBJECT to the poor captions, there is very little we can do. We can't make stations care. It is obvious that ShopNBC and HSN DO NOT CARE at all about the caption consumer.

Going to voice does not necessarily mean that quality will suffer, but you would have to find those special people who are able to provide quality voice captions. It sounds like the station in question is wanting to go with whoever is willing to pick up a mic and give it a go, and it is a travesty.

I would tell the station you would consider using voice writers who meet the standards of your company. Otherwise, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!


Jill's right. Until Deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers protest in a big, big way, nothing will be done about the quality of captioning. It's so very sad that so many people on the service end believe that a providing a warm body fulfills the requirements of the ADA. It does not. But there's nothing about quality in the ADA.

Mary Ann, right on point as always :)

What I don't understand is where the tv stations recruit some of their stenocaptioners? Most captioners are great at their job, but there are some that really should not be live to air. How does this happen? How do stations source, and hire, companies or individuals without any credentials, and worse still keep them on air when they're proven to be poor at their job?????

The sad part is that once they have something scrolling along their screen the stations are seen to be meeting their requirements. It's time the consumers stood up and demanded a quality service, not just any service.
I've been reading these messages and I find it so interesting because I am an RPR and have been a court reporter for 15 years trying to break into captioning and can't seem to get hired by anyone or any of the companies that advertise. Maybe I'm doing something wrong. I bet I'm much more accurate!!!!
I'm with Erin. I have my RPR and my CRR, been reporting for 11 years. I have tried and tried to get into the captioning community and can't seem to cut a break. I only had six errors on my RPR Testimony portion and passed my CRR on the first try, so my writing can't be terrible. Then I see the captions going across the screen that even I, being trained in steno, can't figure out. So how exactly is the hard-of-hearing person supposed to be able to understand??? I just don't get it.
This is just kind of FYI because there is so much misunderstanding about captions in general. If a trained stenographer cannot figure out the captions, the likelihood is that the problem is some kind of technical situation that has to do with a myriad of potential problems. Encoder problems at the station, the effect of HD TV, the different signals and so forth. Lots of things cause what I call "garbled captions" as opposed to just plain terrible steno. Just this very morning, I saw appalling steno captions. Gack. I just don't want anyone to believe that unreadable captions are always due to bad skills on the part of the captioner. There isn't much we can do on our end to make the captions readable other than have terrific skills and maintain our dictionaries and know our software and equipment. Other than that, there is a wide world of possible glitches that we can't really do anything about.

If you start really watching, you will see the difference I am talking about. One will be a captioner, like the one this morning that had Barack Obama's daughters as SACK A and MEDICAL LEAH, OR it will be some garbled looking inexplicable characters along with some readable text OR just garbled stuff in general.
Thank you for the explanation, Jill. That makes me feel a little better about being denied ;)

So, do you have any suggestions for how to break into this field?
I don't really know how to break in! When I applied, it was right after the mandate for captioning went into effect and they were hiring like mad. I guess I would be interested to know more about the application process you have been through. Maybe you would prefer to email me? My addy is jilldmail at gmail dot com.

I'm more comfortable talking more specifically in an email setting rather than a public forum. :D
Anyone reading this,
I emailed my prefixes and suffixes to Jenni, and if anyone else would like to have them, just email me at jilldmail at gmail dot com and I'll send.

It is kind of lengthy to post them here.


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