What is Transcribing? A Guide to Basic Transcription Uses and Methods  

By: Verbit Editorial

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Transcription provides text versions of audio or video information. By transcribing audio and video materials, you can make your content more accessible to those with certain disabilities while offering an easier and more convenient way to take and review notes from important meetings and events. Let’s discuss transcription basics and explore how modern professionals can use transcription to communicate more effectively and efficiently.  

Transcription Essentials 

What is the definition of transcription? Most simply, transcription refers to the process of converting audio to text. Transcription serves various purposes, and different transcription styles support specific projects. The two primary transcription styles are verbatim and non-verbatim, and each of these approaches may be appropriate within different contexts. 

Verbatim transcripts convey a word-for-word account of audio or video files. No one edits verbatim transcripts for clarity. Instead, these transcripts include every audio element from the original recording. If the audio file includes grammatical errors, mispronunciations, repeated words or stammers, the transcript will reflect those aspects. Verbatim transcripts are a valuable resource for individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing, as well as those with certain neurodivergent conditions. They’re also the only option for certain use cases, such as deposition transcripts, where it’s necessary to have a complete, accurate record.  

On the other hand, non-verbatim transcripts make for easier understanding. Rather than transcribing every audio element, a transcriber will edit a non-verbatim transcript to streamline the information, making it easier to read and reference.  

Non-verbatim transcripts function most effectively as supplementary reference tools rather than substitutes for the original format. However, accessibility requirements like the ADA and WCAG emphasize the importance of providing highly accurate and complete captions and transcripts. In many cases, this means that verbatim transcripts are best for offering equitable experiences to individuals with disabilities.  

Transcribing Tools and Features 

Until recently, the transcription process involved an individual listening and re-listening to a recording repeatedly and working to copy every word and utterance accurately. While this process can deliver accurate results, it’s also tedious and time-consuming. 

Fortunately, technological advances are modernizing the transcription process, making it more convenient, efficient and reliable. One major player in this streamlined approach is speech-to-text software. Speech-to-text tools and applications rely on artificial intelligence, specifically automatic speech recognition technology. These tools use advanced learning models to interpret human speech, accurately respond to commands and even convert audio to text. ASR technology is a great jumping-off point for today’s transcriptionists and – when used appropriately – can boost the overall efficiency of the transcription process.  

Transcribers have additional tools at their disposal when working on modern transcription projects. For example, many professional transcriptionists invest in high-quality, ergonomic keyboards to help mitigate the risk of repetitive strain injuries caused by regularly typing at high rates of speed. Similarly, many transcribers use digital transcription software platforms that use foot pedals to control the playback of audio files. By controlling audio and video recordings with these features, transcribers don’t have to remove their hands from their keyboard to pause, play or rewind a recording, thus allowing them to type for longer stretches without interruption.  

Transcribing Use Cases 

Transcription can support a wide variety of communications across nearly every industry. Here are some of the most popular use cases for this assistive technology. 

Business and Professional Use 

Transcription can support employees, clients, investors and others in professional settings. As the popularity of remote and hybrid work arrangements continues to grow, so does the need for clear and accessible information streams. Transcription helps improve business communications in-person and online, as well as for lectures, seminars, conferences and more. 

Transcribing meetings can make information more accessible while providing clear and accurate records of conversations. When a company chooses to transcribe its communications, it cuts back substantially on the need for participants to take notes during a session. This step frees up attendees so they can fully engage and participate. 

Many business leaders may also transcribe recordings of interviews and training videos to improve access for those with disabilities. Similarly, accurate transcripts and summaries of HR communications can prove vital in certain legal proceedings where they clarify potential miscommunications.  

Personal Use 

In recent years, more individuals started producing audio and video content for personal use. Anyone with a social media presence should support their audio and video materials with accurate transcripts to expand their reach and boost accessibility.  

Consumers of podcasts, YouTube videos, Instagram reels and more can all benefit from the presence of accurate and easy-to-read transcripts. Many media platforms boast captioning and transcription capabilities, making it easier than ever for individual creators to enhance their content with transcription technology. In many cases, standard transcripts can support the creation of captions, subtitles and on-screen translations, making audiences and content more engaging.  

Additionally, many professionals regularly use voice memos as a form of note-taking. Transcription services can convert these recordings to text, making them more accessible. Verbit also offers searchable transcription formats that allow users to quickly locate specific keywords within a recording.  

Challenges and Limitations of Transcribing 

Accessibility standards in the United States dictate that transcripts must achieve exceptionally high accuracy rates to function as an accessibility tool. Many factors can adversely impact the accuracy of transcription files.  

Automatic transcription software makes the transcription process more efficient, but it has limitations. Because automatic transcription technology relies on artificial intelligence, it may miss certain nuances or misinterpret complex language. Also, ASR-powered transcription software may fail to accurately transcribe audio recordings that are low quality or have lots of background noise.  

Similarly, automatic transcription platforms may struggle to properly transcribe dialogue between multiple speakers, especially if they’re talking over one another. The technology may produce less accurate results if the speakers have unique accents, dialects or speech patterns. The complexity of these recordings can pose many challenges that engineers continue to work to address.  

For this reason, partnering with a professional transcription service like Verbit can offer better results than relying solely on automatic transcription platforms. Verbit has options for a dual approach to transcription that combines highly advanced artificial intelligence with the oversight of human transcribers for accuracy. This two-pronged solution can deliver highly accurate final transcripts without asking users to compromise on speed, cost or efficiency.   

Privacy and Security Considerations  

Privacy and data security are additional factors when selecting a transcription approach. Many industries are held to high standards regarding data protection, and not all transcription platforms can support these requirements. Verbit’s platform promotes maximum data security and uses advanced data handling protocols and storage practices to protect user privacy. As a result, Verbit’s transcription solutions are an excellent resource for industries where confidentiality is a high priority.  

Leaning on Technology for Efficient Transcripts 

As humans, we constantly seek new, effective ways of sharing information. Transcribing audio and video content and communications is a great way to ensure your message reaches a larger, more diverse audience. The many possible applications of transcription technology make it one of the most versatile accessibility tools. In addition to supporting the needs of individuals with disabilities, the benefits of transcription extend to just about anyone who needs or prefers to receive written information.  

Verbit’s transcribing technology harnesses recent advancements in artificial intelligence to make the transcription process more efficient and reliable. Our platform meets the needs of modern consumers by staying up to date with future developments in accessibility technology. For more information about Verbit’s unique approach to the transcription process, reach out today to speak to a team member.