Blog

When trying to find the right speech-to-text accommodation for real-time communication access, there are two leading contenders: verbatim services like CART (Computer Aided Real-time Translation) and a meaning-for-meaning service like TypeWell. In many situations, like courtroom proceedings or broadcast television, having a strictly verbatim record of what was said is necessary. However, for users who need to quickly digest the speaker’s message, reading along is easier when a transcriber is actively translating the speech from spoken English to clear written English, much like an ASL interpreter would.

In addition to transcribing the spoken word, a TypeWell Transcriber also includes relevant non-verbal context cues to the reader. It is not standard practice for CART providers to relay the speaker’s intonation, sarcasm, body language, or other non-verbal cues, which can lead to an incomplete and sometimes inaccurate message. TypeWell transcription also removes false starts, stutters, or filler words such as “um” or “like” that can cause a verbatim transcript to appear cluttered and hard to understand in real-time.

Therefore, it is particularly important to know the differences between TypeWell and CART services when selecting the right accommodation. Where CART can be considered a word-for-word iteration, TypeWell provides a meaning-for-meaning translation. We would like to discuss our TypeWell services further to show how they are preferable in an educational setting for students who identify as D/deaf or hard of hearing.

 

 

Few people naturally speak as well as they would write. More often than not, speakers meander between topics and present information tangentially instead of linearly. False starts are used when a speaker suddenly decides to discuss a different topic, filler words replace gaps when a speaker thinks of what to say next, and often, sentences are spoken with unclear grammar or syntax. These common occurrences in speech are not particularly troublesome if you’re a hearing person and can filter out the junk, but it can make for very unclear text when written verbatim.

 

 

TypeWell resolves this problem with a meaning-for-meaning translation that communicates the intended information without compromising content. Information isn’t lost or left out in meaning-for-meaning transcription; it’s interpreted.  For this reason, TypeWell is often preferred over verbatim services in the educational setting, as the student is presented with the information in a clear and concise manner for optimal understanding.

Choose TypeWell for Your Transcription Services

We would love to provide you with a 2-hour free trial to show how TypeWell services have helped thousands of students across the country find success in their educational pursuits. To schedule your demo or to reach out with questions, we welcome you to write us here.

Intellitext’s TypeWell Services are a federally approved and accepted speech-to-text accommodation for students who are D/deaf or hard of hearing. TypeWell can also be used for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) students, students with learning disabilities, brain injuries, or English as a second language (ESL) speakers. In the IDEA 2004 Revision, Congress specifically named TypeWell as a transcription service that meets the definition of interpreting services and should be considered an effective tool to meet the communication needs of students with disabilities.

Transcribers, have you ever turned down an assignment because you were intimidated by the class subject? Much like students, transcribers are naturally inclined to take on subjects that they have experience and expertise in. Due to the requirements of the job, transcribers are apt to have strong language skills, which can sometimes mean less confidence in areas such as math. Fortunately, TypeWell Transcribers have Math Mode on their side, which allows for effective presentation of formulas and equations, even when the equation is advanced beyond the transcriber’s computational abilities!

During the Basic Skills Course, new trainees are told to avoid transcribing math classes until they’re more established, and for good reason! It’s essential that new transcribers get comfortable with the foundations learned in training before taking on more advanced styles of transcribing. Unfortunately, this sometimes creates a mental barrier that makes even stellar transcribers feel intimidated by Math Mode well into their career. All too often, I hear that transcribers “prefer not” to transcribe math because it’s not their “strong suit.” But, math courses are required for all students, so don’t we owe it to the people we serve to strive toward providing effective communication access in all classes?

I learned Math Mode before the Math Mode Basics LEO (online learning management platform) course existed. I printed out the entire training document available through TypeWell and put it into a binder. First, I read through it. I was delighted to find out that it was very intuitive; I didn’t need to understand math or be able to solve the equations myself to be an effective transcriber in the subject. It’s often as simple as transcribing what you hear.  With a few learned abbreviations, the appropriate symbols appear. Even better, commonly occurring equations or formulas can be added directly into the Math PAL (Personal Abbreviation List) so “/quad” will expand to the entire, properly formatted quadratic formula right before the student’s eyes. How cool is that?

When the Math Mode Basics LEO course became available, I quickly enrolled. The course was tremendously useful, as it gave considerable practice in what was, for me, the hardest part about using Math Mode — switching between Math Mode and regular transcription mode. It also walked me through everything I had learned in my self-training and reinforced the techniques for quickly getting the correct formatting, even for the most advanced symbols and equations.

My recommendation to transcribers new to Math Mode is to use all resources available. Some resources are given to us by TypeWell and some need to be sought out. There are countless math tutor sites online transcribers can access for free training materials based on the type of math class they’re going to be taking on. These sites allow transcribers to receive a crash course on terminology and formulas that are likely to come up in a given math class. A few resources I recommend are Study.com and Paul’s Online Math Notes; both sites contain beneficial information to prep for math classes.

As TypeWell Transcribers, we have the responsibility to make sure we are regularly continuing our education to better our skills. This duty involves taking time out of our day to not only stay sharp, but to broaden our abilities. Being a proficient math transcriber doesn’t happen overnight, or by transcribing years of English and humanities courses. It takes time, willingness to take on a new challenge, and effort to learn new skills so we can serve our students in everything from Psych to Physics.

(Article written by Christy Hack, Intellitext Operations Manager)

Last year, I attended a workshop on microaggressions by Robbin Vasquez (rvasquez@unr.edu) which opened my eyes to critical insensitivities I hadn’t considered. As I learned more about microaggressions, I realized language that may appear harmless could be unintentionally damaging. Microaggressions can negatively affect all people; not just those with disabilities.

A microaggression is defined as a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority. It may also refer to individuals with disabilities.

If a Coordinator were to use microaggressions that a student caught on to, imagine how it would affect their trust in the Coordinator, the department, and the student’s overall education. In this article, I will convey the strategies I learned to avoid unintentionally damaging students’ sense of self-worth.

Some examples of microaggressions to avoid will be described further. While for the purposes of this article we are referring to Coordinators speaking to students identifying as D/deaf or hard hearing, these can apply to many other situations.

Patronization

Patronization can feel well-intentioned, but it is capable of being the most harmful. Praising a D/deaf or hard of hearing student excessively or for actions you wouldn’t praise other students for has been described by some as being more demeaning than not being praised for achievements at all.

It is commonly understood that certain accommodations need to be provided for students with disabilities. An important second layer is that those accommodations are meant to create an equal playing field. This means excessive praise is not needed and that all students should be rewarded equally for their achievements. It implies “you are not capable” and “I can do that better than you can”.

Take a moment to imagine you’re a Deaf/hard of hearing student. You arrive at your appointment with an accessibility Coordinator and are told, “You did such a good job making your appointment and arriving on time without any help!” This statement seems well-intentioned, but is an example of patronization and would be seen negatively.

Infantilization

Infantilization is not allowing a person with a disability to perform actions they are perfectly capable of doing.

For example, we ask that our TypeWell transcribers simply add [inaudible] into the transcript when a speaker makes an inaudible comment. The alternative is for the transcriber to interrupt class to ask for a repeat. However, if the transcriber didn’t understand the comment, the other students likely didn’t, either. if the student feels they need the information, they can raise their hand and ask the person to repeat the commentjust like any other student! The student can request that the transcriber ask the person to repeat their comment, but assumptions are not made prior to that.

Coordinators can avoid infantilization by avoiding being overbearing, talking too slowly to the student, asking the interpreter to ask the Deaf/hard of hearing person a question rather than speaking directly to the student, and assigning services that the student may not need/want.

Spread Effect

Spread effect occurs when assumptions about a person are made due to their disability, such as assuming that one disability means that all of the person’s senses are impaired.

People who aren’t familiar with the Deaf/hard of hearing community may inappropriately ask if the person reads Braille, for example. Another example of spread effect is when people avoid communication with people with disabilities because they assume they won’t have things to contribute to the conversation or that communication is impossible.

Denial of Disability Experience

While it may seem perfectly harmless to say, “I don’t even think of you as disabled”, this can be very hurtful due to denial of experience. It also adds an unnecessarily negative connotation to their disability.

Another example is when professors decline adding captioning to videos in class because it “distracts the other students”, completely ignoring the student’s need. Sensitivity is key.

Improve Educational Experiences for Deaf/Hard of Hearing Students

Disability Resource Coordinators that are mindful of their language and how it may affect their students’ feelings will improve educational outcomes by making students feel safe, heard, comfortable, and confident.

 


For Accessibility Coordinators, providing a level playing field for students in the classroom is the primary goal. Getting there can feel like a challenge, especially for those that are new to the job, have limited tools/resources, seemingly endless day-to-day duties, or unclear expectations. Here are the top 5 considerations we recommend to Accessibility Coordinators when they come to us seeking guidance on providing accessibility services for D/deaf or hard of hearing students.

5. Every Student is Unique

This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many administrators still think that a one-size-fits-all approach to accessibility is appropriate. The differences aren’t just in the unique nature of the students themselves, but also in the way they identify themselves in the context of their disability. For example, a person identifying as Deaf, capitalized, are often raised in a culture where they focus exclusively on ASL and purposefully avoid using spoken English language. If ASL is the primary mode of communication for any student, their preference should be respected and a certified ASL Interpreter should be provided.

When real-time transcription services are used, such as TypeWell or C-Print, the service should be customized to each student’s unique needs. For example, some students prefer all side chatter to be included in the transcript, and others prefer that the transcriber only include academically important content. The student should feel encouraged to advocate for these kinds of preferences so that the service provides them with the aid they need for success.

4. Language is Important

Beyond the differences between communicating with a deaf/hard of hearing student versus a Deaf student, it’s important to understand how to use respectful verbiage when communicating to a student in the context of their disability. Remember that while a student may have a disability, there should never be an implication that their disability makes them disabled, less than, or a burden. Understanding that fundamental rule when it comes to communicating with the student will allow the student to feel comfortable working with you.

3. Ensure Confidentiality

Ensure that student confidentiality is always protected. Have clear, documented conversations with all of the student’s instructors. Start by sending an email to the instructor at the beginning of the semester stating that a student, without the name included, has a need requiring use of a TypeWell Transcriber or ASL Interpreter. Explain what the accommodation is, how it works, and state that the transcriber/interpreter is not a student and therefore does not participate in class. Add tips on how to properly communicate with the student, such as directing the instructor to communicate directly with the student rather than asking the transcriber to ask the student a question. The instructor should also know to never out the student’s disability in front of the other students. Then provide the student with an accommodation letter to provide to their instructor on the first day of class.

If possible, also meet with the instructor in person or over the phone to be sure that they have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them. Ask the instructor to acknowledge their agreement by asking them to sign the document.

2. Research Meaning-for-Meaning Versus Verbatim Notes

Meaning-for-meaning transcription can be the most important aspect to a student’s success. People do not speak in a way that is easily understood when written in verbatim form. This is because we use unspoken cues such as intonation and body language to add to the meaning of a sentence. If you’re an educator that uses sarcasm in a lecture, for example, that may not come across to a student if conveyed verbatim. False starts, filler words such as “um” or “uh”, and other simple language mistakes may not make a huge difference to a non hard of hearing student, but it can seriously harm the interpretation of your message to a student who is D/deaf or hard of hearing.

Providing a live meaning-for-meaning transcription service such as TypeWell or C-Print gives the student a concise, easy to read transcript without compromising important content. The transcript includes meaningful body language, emphasis, intonation, pauses, and more. An explanation is also provided in this video presentation.

1. Always Use Approved Teaching Methods & Tools

Ensure that all laws are being met in accordance with the student’s individual needs. This often means, in addition to an ASL Interpreter or real-time transcriber, proper closed captioning of all videos displayed in the classroom. In fact, many schools and universities have adopted a policy of only showing proper closed captioned videos, regardless of whether a person with a disability is present. All students benefit from closed captioning. Note: YouTube’s automatic closed captioning is not sufficient due to inaccuracies and should never be used.

Have a firm and clear conversation with all instructors to educate them on why closed captioned videos are important not only for the success of their students, but also to ensure that the school is following the law.

Intellitext’s TypeWell Services are a federally approved and accepted speech-to-text accommodation for students who are D/deaf or hard of hearing. It can also be used for ASD students, students with learning disabilities, brain injuries, or English as a second language (ESL) speakers. In the IDEA 2004 Revision, Congress specifically named TypeWell as a transcription service that meets the definition of interpreting services and should be considered an effective tool to meet the communication needs of students with disabilities.

Choose TypeWell for Your Transcription Services

Intellitext’s TypeWell services aim to make each of these 5 considerations easier. As discussed, TypeWell is also a federally approved and accepted tool for many other special circumstances.

We would love to provide you with a 2-hour free trial to show how TypeWell services have helped thousands of students across the country find success in their educational pursuits. To schedule your demo or to reach out with questions, we welcome you to write us here.

In a previous blog post, we discussed how to recruit quality transcribers. Now, let’s look at how to retain your new transcriber and ensure they have the foundation necessary for success.

A new transcriber can have a great deal of anxiety about their first day of real-time transcribing. The TypeWell basic training does a thorough job of preparing them and it encourages them to think about a variety of real-life situations in the classroom and workplace. However, as any transcriber who has worked in professional settings can tell you, it can still be nerve-wracking! As the old adage says, “In theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.” There are few ways to acclimate the new transcriber with the practicalities of the job that will ensure a smooth transition into the classroom.

One method we’ve had a lot of success with is team mentoring. This means having your new transcriber sit with a seasoned transcriber in a classroom and get hands-on experience. This method has many advantages. First, this alleviates the anxiety that new transcribers can have about the interactions that must occur between the transcriber and other people in the classroom. Having an experienced transcriber from which to take social and professional cues creates a context for their behavior that allows the newbie to focus on their transcribing skills and not on the people around them.

Another advantage to team mentoring is that it allows the new transcriber to have a backup in case they get flustered with speed or content of the course. Some speakers are simply faster, more articulate, or more… incomprehensible than others. Some course content is mindbogglingly arcane. When things get dicey, the new transcriber can pass their computer to the experienced transcriber and let the veteran handle it. They see firsthand how to handle the challenging content and feel a renewed confidence in the capacity of a professional transcriber to capture the meaning and feeling of spoken word.

Finally, a team mentoring experience can teach a green transcriber practical tips and tricks that make the job easier. There is a substantial amount of organization and strategy involved in transcribing that must be taught on the job. For example, where is it appropriate for the transcriber to sit? How should they set up their equipment relative to the classroom environment? How frequently should a word or phrase be said in order to warrant its own PAL entry? What types of actions can be turned into macros or scripts to further automate the job? How do you organize and edit your transcripts for later use? Experienced transcribers have entire systems for their job that extend beyond the actual transcribing of spoken word. A new transcriber, through team mentoring, gets a glimpse of some of the tools experienced transcribers use and can start thinking of ways to make their own work more efficient.

If a team mentoring experience is not possible due to timing, budget, or other issues, there are still ways for a coordinator to make a positive difference in the developmental stages of a transcriber’s career. A coordinator or mentor should introduce the new transcriber to the TypeWell user in a friendly way, which will create a lasting positive rapport. Also, since not all teachers are familiar with transcribers in the classroom and may have reservations about having their speech transcribed in real time, the coordinator should approach the teacher with the new transcriber. By talking to the teacher on the new transcriber’s behalf, the coordinator shows the new transcriber how to discuss the situation in a way that makes the teacher comfortable. Finally, a coordinator can help a transcriber set up their equipment for the first time and troubleshoot any issues that come up.

An occasional challenge with new transcribers is the time gap between their passing TypeWell’s Basic Skills Course and their first transcribing assignment. This happens when a transcriber finishes their basic training in between semesters and must wait several weeks before being able to put their skills to use. The time after their training is a critical period for the development of their skills. The coordinator should keep their transcriber practicing regularly during this time if possible. The transcriber can keep their skills honed by transcribing YouTube videos. David Attenborough nature documentaries are slow, articulate, and use enough interesting vocabulary and language to keep the transcriber engaged. They are long enough to simulate the length of a real class. This is not just busy work; this is the continued development of psychomotor skills that have not had time to become muscle memory.

While a coordinator or mentor can’t always be there physically with a new transcriber, it’s important to give guidance in their early stages. Hopefully this has given you some good ideas for how to get a new transcriber from training to classroom in one piece and give them the greatest chances of success.