For years, most of Canada has experienced a decline in shorthand reporters who have always been the recognized guardians of the record. As Canada’s premier court reporting firm, responding to this crisis was identified as a top priority in 2017.

Let’s face it: digital recording has taken over the courts in Canada, Ontario falling to this system fully in April 2013, where many skilled shorthand reporters decided to leave government service. Freelance firm owners benefited from this turn of events: some excellent shorthand reporters from court moved to the freelance field, allowing us to shore up our court reporter reserves.

Another thing happened in 2013: the National Court Reporters’ Association commissioned an industry outlook report, known as the Ducker Report, prepared by Ducker Worldwide. One of the stark conclusions of the report was that by 2018, demand for stenographic reporters would exceed supply; that a shortage of 5,500 court reporters in the United States was anticipated. This was due to two main factors: an aging reporter population and a lack of schools to meet demand.

Last but not least, let’s be clear. Digital court reporting cannot provide rough draft transcripts or realtime services. Digital court reporting, when done right (a topic for another blog) can produce an excellent transcript with the right ingredients. In our region, however, no program exists that would qualify ER candidates to work with Neesons.

So where does Canada’s premier litigation realtime and CART/captioning firm go when it, too, suffers from the two threats identified by the Drucker Report? Enter voice writing!

What is voice writing?

voice writer

Voice writing is performed by a highly skilled and trained reporter who respeaks what is said in the discovery or deposition, inputs that repeaking into Dragon Naturally Speaking, which is connected to the same court reporting software that shorthand writers use, and is then displayed on the reporter’s laptop in real time. Counsel can be hooked up to this display in the exact same way as they would be with a shorthand reporter.

Think of it this way: the real difference is the inputting of the spoken word.

  • Shorthand writer = steno = court reporter software = text
  • Voice writer = voice recognition = court reporter software = text

Both kinds of court reporters must create short-forms in order to keep up with the speed of speakers. For example, take a name like Czechoslovakia. In shorthand, I might write a one-word stroke such as “CH*EK” and define that stroke in my software as Czechoslovakia. In voice writing, I might say something like “ZEK,” a word that doesn’t mean anything in English, and define that sound in my software as Czechoslovakia. Easy, right? (Not really…)

Similarities between shorthand versus voice writing

  • Use the same court reporting software
  • After school, on-the-job mentoring, experience and training are required
  • High performing individuals can provide realtime and rough draft services
  • Significant investment of time and resources to become a reporter
  • State-of-the-art technology used

steno court reporting

Differences between shorthand versus voice writing

  • Much higher success rate in school of voice writers – 90% versus 10% for shorthand writers
  • Shorter duration in school to achieve over 200 wpm speeds – 9 months for voice writing v. two years for shorthand writers
  • Equipment costs are lower for voice writers – the cost of a shorthand machine is about $5,000 US

Neesons is thrilled to now have several voice writers among our team. Next time you have one of our voice writers as your reporter, know you’re in good hands with a professional committed to providing a high quality service.