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Digital Court Reporter: Reasons to Hire & Become One

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There is a growing shortage of stenographers. This reality combined with the fact that the average age of a court reporter is 53, leaves cause for concern about the profession’s future. Additional contributing factors to this shortage include a significant decrease in graduates from professional stenographic training and the closure of many training schools, according to the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT).

To overcome these hurdles, the legal industry has been tapping into digital court recording systems, such as audio and video recordings of proceedings and advanced transcription technologies, which provide accurate court reporting.

To help companies in this field understand the new landscape, we’ve provided a quick overview of what it means to transition into digital, including advantages and important concerns. 

 

What is a Digital Court Reporter?

Like a stenographer, a digital court reporter, also known as an electronic court reporter, is a notary. Responsibilities include swearing in witnesses and marking exhibits, just using a different court reporter device.

Instead of the traditional court reporter machine, these professionals record the proceedings using digital technology. That usually means audio, but sometimes includes video. Professionals take notes during the recordings either manually or by annotating in a software platform, and then submit these for transcription into a cohesive document afterward.

 

How Digital Court Reporting Future-Proofs Your Business

The biggest difference between digital and standard stenographic court reporting is that digital court recording systems allow businesses to grow and future-proof their operations.

Both clients and the legal system as a whole are transitioning into digital. There’s little dispute that digital court reporting is more efficient. Companies can get faster transcripts at better prices and avoid unwanted delays due to the stenographer shortage.

The legal system as a whole is recognizing the nuance of unnecessary delays, keeping people’s lives in limbo for too long with taxpayers footing the bill. All US states now allow digital court reporting, and there’s a growing pressure on court reporters to adapt.

Cost savings is also a significant factor. Based on data from the AAERT, court reporting companies that transition into digital are expected to save nearly $250K USD over the next decade simply by transitioning from stenography to digital court reporting systems. Advanced technologies therefore provide the opportunity to lower costs, while also serving more clients faster.

 

How Digital Court Reporting Provides a Competitive Career Advantage

For industry professionals, choosing to learn how to operate digital court recording systems now, when adoption is still growing but not fully spread, is a way to guarantee competitiveness and experience. Digital court reporters can now expect to earn an average of $43K a year, with some earning as high as $99,500, according to ZipRecruiter.

 

How Digital Court Reporting Improves Turnaround and Quality

Legal clients prefer to work with digital court reporters due to the faster turnaround that advanced transcription software provides. Due to artificial intelligence, instantaneous transcription also continues to be more accurate, as the software learns from its mistakes. Even if the transcription provider offers additional review by humans, the process is faster.

A top concern and also deciding factor is the quality and accuracy of court reports. Since the software is trained to understand both legal terms and a client’s own specific situation, the most advanced products provide 99% accuracy. Similarly, if selected software features an automatic sound recognition (ASR) engine, it can distinguish between different speakers to avoid confusion.

Even during the proceeding itself, playing back recorded audio is more accurate than reading a manually-written transcript.

 

Common Digital Court Reporting Concerns & How to Easily Overcome Them

It’s clear that digital transformation and technology provide many benefits, but we’d be remiss not to mention the industry’s concerns about security and privacy.

Unlike paper documents, which can easily be accessed by anyone, digital documents and files can be protected using a wide range of cybersecurity protection tools. Many software providers have taken measures to secure their products, adhering to HIPPA compliance and providing end to end encryption.

There is also some hesitation about working with machines instead of humans. It’s important to note that digital court reporting requires a human court reporter be present at every proceeding, even if it is machine-recorded. The human court reporter is in charge of ensuring the technology is working properly, providing quality recordings and accurate transcriptions. The reporter also is responsible for taking notes throughout the proceeding to set the technology up for success.

 

How to Become a Digital Court Reporter, or Transition Your Stenographers into Digital

Whether you’re interested in becoming a digital court reporter, training your stenographers to become digital court reporters, or are just interested in the market when considering recruitment of new talent, remember that requirements vary by state.

More than half of US states require court reporter certification, usually one of two AAERT certifications: certified electronic court reporter (CER) or certified electronic transcriber (CET). In some states, electronic court reporters are also required to have NCRA RPR certification to operate digital court recording systems.

You can find more details in this free ebook, which also provides a step-by-step process to becoming a digital court reporting company, including the equipment an agency needs and how much budget is required.

 

Integrate the Latest Technologies to Empower Your Team and Grow Your Business

While court reporter devices may change, the critical need for human professionals to operate these devices is crucial for a fair legal process. Technological advancements are developed to empower a court reporter’s work and create ease and efficiency.

Technology presents a win-win for all. Legal professionals find it easier to bring justice to clients and court reporting agencies can thrive even when faced with a stenographer shortage.

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Low and High Tech Assistive Technology: A Timeline

In a world and society designed for ‘normal’, people with disabilities often find it challenging to access everyday opportunities that many take for granted. This reality is especially evident in higher education. These limitations are evident physically, such as university elevators that are too narrow for wheelchairs, and academically when classes are taught without captions and transcriptions for deaf students or Braille reading options for blind students.

It’s crucial for the education industry to do more to support students with special needs in their academic journeys. Thankfully, there are many offerings now provided by low and high tech assistive technology.

 

High Tech, Low Tech, Mid Tech: Making a Difference

There have been attempts and developments to support people with disabilities for centuries. The first school for deaf children opened in 1817. New organizations emerged throughout the 1900s to service the disabled.

In 1988, the Assistive Technology Act passed in the United States. According to the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, the law was passed to “support State efforts to improve the provision of assistive technology to individuals with disabilities of all ages through comprehensive statewide programs of technology-related assistance.”

Technological assistance for people with disabilities varies based on their specific needs. Let’s deep dive into some key low and high tech assistive technology examples to understand how each can make a difference.

 

Low Tech Assistive Technology

Surprisingly, low tech devices can often make the biggest difference for a student.

According to Georgia Tech, low tech devices for students with disabilities “are devices or equipment that don’t require much training, may be less expensive and do not have complex or mechanical features.”

Examples include walking canes, binder clips that make it easier to turn pages, sensory input items such as fidgets and squishy balls, and writing things down instead of speaking. Low tech assistive technology in the classroom includes printing assignments in larger fonts, pencil grips, adapted pencils, and using colored highlighters to better organize information.

 
Mid Tech Assistive Technology

There are “mid tech” assistive technology devices that, according to Georgia Tech, “may have some complex features, may be electronic or battery operated, [and] may require some training to learn how to use.”

One of the most common examples is the wheelchair, which was first used between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. By the mid-to-late 1870s, developments continued, with the invention of the audiophone bone conductor, the first portable hearing aid, the Braille typewriter, and the first electric hearing aid, the akouphone.

Audiobooks followed. According to Inclusive Publishing, “when Thomas Edison recorded the first audiobook in 1877, he probably didn’t think of them as anything other than a way to sell more phonographs. In the 1930s, when the Library of Congress and the AFB developed a program for talking books.

 

High Tech Assistive Technology Examples

High tech assistive technology is described as “the most complex devices or equipment, that have digital or electronic components, [and] may be computerized,” according to Georgia Tech.

These include altering devices that use visual and vibrating elements to replace sound. A key example is a vibrating alarm clock, which can assist the deaf and hard of hearing communities.

Speech to text technology, which artificially produces human speech, also provides benefits to deaf students, enabling them to communicate more effectively with those around them. According to PCWorld, the first speech recognition system, “Audrey” by Bell Laboratories, was designed in 1952 and “could understand only digit… Ten years later, IBM demonstrated at the 1962 World’s Fair its ‘Shoebox’ machine, which could understand 16 words spoken in English.”

Today, speech to text technology can recognize entire university lectures. This high tech assistive technology provides important access to students who were underserved previously. It’s also paved the way for the production of AI-based academic transcription software products. AI products make it easier for students to consume classes in real time or quickly after a class via recordings.

High tech assistive technology also empowers the senses. Text to speech technology, is allowing mute students to communicate more simply. Additionally, electronic Braille allows blind students to read content on tablets and create graphs and spreadsheets, making it easier for them to thrive in STEM programs.


Both High Tech and Low Tech Assistive Technology Provide Opportunities for Equality

As technology advances at a rapid pace, students with a disability have a better chance of fulfilling their dreams and advancing their lives.

Mid tech and low tech assistive technologies still remain crucial. Higher education organizations that want to set up their students for success must consider implementing all types of technologies. When doing so, they can help students with disabilities to not only feel accepted, but finally become equal.

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