Shorthand in the 21st Century

By the 1940s, shorthand machines had supplanted the pen.  By the 1990s, instantly creating text from speech, with the ability to simultaneously transmit it across the room and around the world, was becoming commonplace.

Today, by using digital shorthand machines, specially designed computer software, and state-of-the-art wireless and internet technology, skilled reporters are delivering text from speech with such speed that spin-off applications are just now being discovered.

Realtime Reporting

Currently, realtime text is observed in legal settings, such as trials and depositions, where reporters are immediately providing drafts of proceedings locally and to remote sites.

Closed Captioning

The “subtitles” of live broadcasts seen on a TV monitor are the work of shorthand reporters. Infrequent momentary speech-to-text delays, seen occasionally, are because the reporter often is listening offsite, writes in shorthand what is spoken, and then transmits the translated text to a broadcast station which routes it as part of the TV signal.

CART — Communications Access Realtime Translation

There are 30 million deaf or hard-of-hearing Americans.  10% use sign language for primary communication.  The other 90% rely on assistive technology, such as CART.  To contrast this technology with captioning, CART is when one reporter writes for one viewer or in a closed environment, such as a meeting room.

The latter two segments of the profession are now dubbed CART Captioning, an arena expected to grow by double digits in the coming years.

Nearly 10 years ago, by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 Congress underscored the significance of providing communication access to hearing impaired Americans, mandating that 100 of all new English programming be closed captioned. Similarly, Congress has provided that all Spanish-language programming be captioned.

In the tradition of shorthand evolution, uses of this sophisticated art form are once again morphing to meet the needs of society.