Frequently Asked Questions about the Court Reporting/Verbatim Technology Program

Students can no longer rent machines at SSC. Students must contact the vendor, STENOGRAPH, to rent, purchase or lease steno machines.

As was previously mentioned, the sophisticated computerized steno machine that reporters use today allows them to perform realtime translation; that is, instant translation of their steno notes. With this technology, they can write court proceedings for a hearing-impaired witness, a classroom lecture for a hearing-impaired student, the broadcast captioning for television shows, and corporate stockholders’ meetings for webcasting purposes. Those reporters who perform realtime writing are highly skilled individuals who must write at speeds upwards of 200 wpm at 98 percent accuracy for hours at a time. Consider the court reporters who caption the Olympic telecasts. Before the telecasts they have to program their computer translation dictionaries with the names of every country, athlete, and coach participating in the games, along with any other words that may come up during the shows. This is a task that takes months to complete. Then during the telecast, the reporter must write all of these difficult words instantly. Obviously this can be a very stressful assignment, but one that is also extremely interesting, exciting, and financially rewarding. And the majority of broadcast captioners are working out of their homes – tremendous flexibility.

Given the state of our high-tech society and the great strides we have made in developing electronic and computer technology, one might think that court reporters could be easily replaced by an electronic recording system. However, electronic recording has been attempted in many areas of the country for as long as reporters have existed, and the results have always been the same: No system has been developed that is as effective and efficient as the court reporter who uses our sophisticated computerized steno machine. First of all, attorneys want a written record to review; and producing a written record from a tape-recorded or videotaped version of a proceeding presents many problems. Identifying multiple speakers in a large courtroom is difficult. Extraneous noises such as coughing or shuffling of papers cause speech to become inaudible. When speakers overlap, those words are inaudible and lost forever. When people speak unreasonably fast or mumble or speak with heavy accents, those words are lost forever. In each of these situations, however, the court reporter takes control and cautions people to slow down, to speak one at a time, to repeat testimony, etc. If the recording equipment malfunctions or is not turned on, entire sections of testimony are lost. In addition, only the court reporter using computer-aided transcription can effectively offer instant translation for hearing-impaired individuals in courtrooms, depositions, classrooms, and elsewhere. The need for court reporters to provide realtime translation has increased tremendously with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

One of the very attractive aspects of freelance court reporting is the flexibility of schedule which it offers. Many reporters work on a part-time basis and produce their transcripts in the comfort of their homes, which is particularly attractive for the working mother. There is an extreme shortage of court reporters all around the United States and abroad, which gives the reporter excellent mobility.

The education and training are stressful, yet rewarding. Prospective students should be intelligent, disciplined, motivated, and they should possess above-average language skills, along with computer literacy. If you are interested in becoming a vital part of the judicial system or performing any of the many applications of realtime reporting, then court reporting may be the profession for you.