Methods of Court Reporting

Court reporting is a very promising profession-- and that's not just propaganda. Aside from the usual courtroom environment, the U.S. Congress or private firms, Federal legislation has now mandated that television programs and Spanish-language programming be captioned for the deaf and the hearing impaired. Furthermore, they can even request for real time translation in their classes, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Add this to the growing popularity of webcasting and online collaborations and it's easy to imagine how the demand for court reporters have burgeoned in the past few years and in the years to come.

But before you can be a court reporter, you need to be acquainted with and specialize on the various methods of court reporting. These include stenographic reporting, electronic reporting, voice-writing and real-time captioning methods.

Stenographic Reporting. The most common method of court reporting makes use of the stenotype machine. This is a specialized kind of typewriter used for shorthand. Instead of an alphanumeric keyboard, multiple keys are pressed simultaneously to stand for words, syllables and entire phrases. Modern-day steno machines have microprocessors, English dictionaries, LCD screens and memories that can store the transcripts. The process of computer-aided transcription (CAT) translates and displays on the screen the message that was recorded by the court reporter.

Electronic Reporting. Electronic reporting relies on the use of analog or digital recorders to record proceedings. The court reporter is still responsible for keeping watch over the proceedings, identifying the speakers and taking notes to guide him or her in the accurate transcription of the entire event. He or she then makes a written transcript of the recorded session.

Voice Writing. In this method, the court reporter makes use of a voice silencer. This is a hand-held recorder containing a mask and a telephone where the court reporter verbally repeats everything said by those involved in the whole proceeding. He or she also includes the gestures and reactions in the recording. Again, written transcripts are made after each session.

Real-time Captioning. The need to provide captioning services for the hard of hearing and the totally deaf as mandated by the law as well as for those who are still learning English have given rise to Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART). They caption classes, television programs and even provide transcripts in conventions, doctor's visits and other occasions where communication is needed. A court reporter's role is crucial especially in emergency situations where the accuracy of information provided can save lives. Some court reporters who provide CART can work from the comfort of their own homes since communications technology have come to a point where real-time access can still be provided through the phone or Internet.

No matter what method of court reporting is utilized, it is the job of the court reporter to ensure accuracy of the transcription. The recording should be checked for errors in grammar and punctuation to ensure that the written copy is discernible to all the parties concerned.

If you believe that you have what it takes to be a Court Reporter, then the first step is the Court Reporter Exam Study Guide that walks you through the entire Border Patrol hiring process.

For more information, go to our page for the Court Reporter Exam Study Guide


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