Voice writing emerged alongside Horace Webb’s introduction of the stenomask in the mid-1940s. Over half a century later, following substantial advancements in voice recognition technology and digital recording systems, this reporting technique is back in vogue. In this blog post, we’ll outline the technologies and processes of voice writing and explore how the roles of voice reporters and stenographers differ.

The Stenomask

Before diving into voice writing, it’s important to understand the technology behind it. The stenomask is a device used by a voice reporter to record the reporter’s verbal transcription and to silence his or her voice so that court proceedings are not disrupted. In order to accomplish both these ends, the stenomask is equipped with a high-functioning digital microphone and advanced noise dampening materials. Voice reporters connect stenomasks to computers with modern speech recognition software, allowing them to translate their speech into transcript form.

What is Voice Writing?

Voice writing refers to the process of legal transcription in which a voice writer wears a stenomask over his or her mouth, dictating into the device all spoken words and sounds that occur during the proceeding. In order to produce a completely accurate transcript, the voice writer must identify all speakers and record any emotional reactions, gestures or sounds made by attorneys, the judge, witnesses and other parties. Voice writers may transcribe realtime feeds of a proceeding or produce a complete transcript at the end.

Voice Reporter vs. Stenographer

Both voice reporters and stenographers produce verbatim transcripts of legal proceedings; however, their approaches differ greatly. One speaks; the other types rapidly, using shorthand to match the fast pace of the courtroom. Voice reporters are not even required to learn stenography and shorthand. In fact, the apparent ease of voice writing and its limited education requirements often catch the attention of potential reporters.

Voice reporting presents an alternative to conventional court reporting, an alternative in which a prospective reporter need not type 225 words per minute on a stenotype to pursue a career in the industry. Instead, aspiring voice reporters can work toward a voice writing certificate—which takes between six and twelve months to complete. Like traditional court reporters, voice reporters are required to pass a speed test at the end of their program, and like traditional court reporters, voice reporters must transcribe a minimum of 225 words per minute to earn their certification. Of course, voice reporters use a stenomask for this testing, not a stenotype.

When verbatim reporters reach the courtroom, many enjoy high accuracy rates. Because of their advanced technology, voice reporters can achieve speeds near 350 words per minute, which is almost as fast as the world’s fastest court reporter! However, not all courts recognize voice writing as a valid method of court reporting. Therefore, voice writing gigs are at times more difficult to find than traditional court reporting jobs. Considering the current demand for court reporters, it’s a great time to pursue a career in the industry. Want to learn more about exciting options for aspiring reporters? Check out our recent blog post. Interested in working for Connor Reporting? Whether you’re an ambitious beginner or a tenured stenographer, contact us today.

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