The Role of Technology in Court Reporting and American Courtrooms from 1974 to 2012
The only piece of modern technology that was found in the well-equipped trial courtroom of the 1970s was a lighted X‑ray viewbox where an expert or treating physician could display X-rays and explain to the court and jury a party’s injuries and diagnosis. An easel, pad of paper, and MagicMarker™ were other accoutrements that would be found in most trial courtrooms, along with maybe a large blackboard on wheels if there was room. The clerk’s dial telephone rigged with a faint ring was pretty high-tech as well.
A few courtrooms had primitive sound systems connecting two microphones—usually for the judge and witness—into a speaker, which was commonly set into the woodwork of the bench or mounted on a stand facing the jury; however, this accommodation was only installed in larger trial courtrooms where jurors had previously complained about not being able to hear the proceedings. These systems were often more worrisome than helpful because they picked up radio wave transmissions, and the court reporter, who sat closer to the speaker than the jurors, had to train his brain to listen only to the proceedings while filtering out extraneous music and noise emitted from the radio.
I will never forget how exciting it was when I saw my first framed magnetic display board painted to represent the intersection of a roadway. Miniature metal automobiles could be maneuvered over the magnetic board to demonstrate how an automobile accident probably occurred. That the toy cars didn’t fall off when held up and exhibited to the jury was downright clever, and I recall thinking how brilliant it was for someone to have devised that little three-dimensional prop.
Equally as unique and ingenious were the enlarged exhibits displayed on huge poster boards that were large enough for everyone in the courtroom to see without straining the eyesight or having to pass the document from juror to juror. As a court reporter, though, I looked forward to the times an exhibit was passed around the courtroom since it allowed a few moments of much needed rest.
Historically, the majority of people in a courtroom were men. A female lawyer was an anomaly, and a female judge was simply unheard of. Women started dominating the court reporting field about the time I entered the legal arena in 1974. By 1990, women lawyers and judges were on the scene, and today, the female-to-male ratio of students in law school is about 50-50. In the beginning, I recall lots of discussion and comments about what a female lawyer should wear to court.
One day when Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor visited the law school where I am currently employed, I had the opportunity to meet her and chat a moment. I happened to mention that one day while in federal court I noticed there was a female judge, female prosecutor, female defense counsel, and a female court security officer, and I recalled thinking what a breakthough I was witnessing. She reported having experienced the exact same scenario at a different time and place. It truly pleased us both to have viewed the progress.
Diane Mason Gray with retired Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
Frankly, though, there is no comparison of today's technology to that of 35 years ago. I have reported in the following cities and counties in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, which is called the Tidewater region: Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News, Hampton, Isle of Wight, Southampton, Gloucester, James City County-Williamsburg, Accomack, Northampton, Charles City, Middlesex, Essex, Lancaster, New Kent, and York, Virginia; Currituck, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Gates, and Chowan counties in North Carolina; and U.S. District Court in the cities of Norfolk, Newport News, and Charlottesville, Virginia; Elizabeth City, North Carolina, as well as U.S. District Court in Boston, Massachusetts for two days. Many of the state courthouses in Tidewater are of historical significance with some built in the 18th century. Some of the older courthouses have now been turned into museums in various jurisdictions.
If the electricity went out due to inclement weather, as it often did in the rural counties, it was no problem to continue making the record on the manual stenotype machine while sitting in the near dark gazing out at the sky through hand-blown window panes imagining what it must have been like to report Thomas Jefferson or Patrick Henry by candlelight. In my mind’s eye, I could see the country’s colonial elite bedecked in wigs and knee-breeches swaggering at the bar or relaxed in a spindle-backed Windsor arm chair while the scribe—my historic counterpart—scratched away with a quill pen and endless well of ink. To this day I keep a quill pen and salt-glazed pottery inkwell sans ink on my courtroom desk to remind me of those who came before and how far we have advanced since the 1700s, which, in the grand scheme of things, wasn’t really so long ago.
Today, even the most technologically advanced trial and appellate courtrooms are instantly recognized by laypeople as courts of law, so there are obviously many commonalities in the courtrooms of old to those of the 21st century: the elevated bench assigning importance to the judge, tables for counsel, a podium or bar, witness stand, scribe or stenographer's table or court reporter’s station, clerk’s desk, and the quintessential viewing gallery, sometimes in the form of a balcony.
Just as there are commonalities, where major differences are found is in the number of computers and monitors, flat-screen display devices, plasma screens, LCD screens, wired and wireless microphones, sound systems, SmartBoards, WhiteBoards, scanners, printers, VHS, CD, DVD, HDVD, and Blu-Ray players and burners, digital projectors, cameras, control pads, remote controls, document cameras, video-teleconferencing, wi-fi, both Internet and Intranet, and assistive devices or specific accommodations for persons with disabilities. All of the cabling from today’s modern devices may be hidden from sight under raised flooring, which makes upgrading more economical and less disruptive than moving infrastructure. Ergonomics and acoustics are the buzzwords for today’s courtroom design.
McGlothlin Courtroom at the Center for Legal and Court Technology
William and Mary Law School, Williamsburg, Virginia
As for court reporting technology, the reporter model Stenograph machine I purchased prior to entering reporting school in fall 1972 was a state-of-the-art, sleek, plastic-encased, light-weight stenotype machine that was introduced to the market by Stenograph Corporation in 1970. Including suitcase, tripod, and ink bottle, it cost around $300 in 1972 ($1,500 in 2010 dollars). After purchasing an IBM Selectric typewriter in 1974 for $500 ($2,155 in 2010 dollars) and some erasable bond paper, stenotype paper, office supplies, and a business license, a reporter was ready for the work force.
A few extremely fortunate and very experienced reporters had notereaders—human beings who could read stenotype notes and type directly from the reporter’s notes, which saved untold hours of work for the reporter, but notereaders were difficult to find. Most reporters worked all day reporting, then went home and dictated what they had taken earlier in the day into a Dictaphone or DeJur Grundig Stenorette reel-to-reel recorder. The dictation tapes then had to be hand-carried, mailed, or shipped to the typist for transcription. When the typist completed producing the transcript and the carbon copies ordered, the reporter then picked up the transcript from the typist for proofreading, or the typist shipped the work back to the ordering reporter.
Almost all typists and notereaders were independent contractors and worked from home, and depending upon their expertise and competition in the region, reporters could expect to pay anywhere from $0.50 to $0.75 per page for typing and/or notereading services in the 1970s. At the same time, the reporter received approximately $1.50 per page for the original and $0.50 per page for carbon copies.
Proofreading was accomplished by the court reporter in whatever spare time could be eked out of a day, since the reporter was usually occupied reporting proceedings from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in a courtroom or freelancing various times of the day or night and dictating for the typist. It seemed as though reporters were constantly reading, either steno notes or typewritten text, so rarely was a minute wasted. A hard-working reporter carried transcripts for proofreading everywhere—while waiting in doctor’s and lawyer’s offices, waiting on cases to be called in courtrooms, flying on airplanes, riding on trains, and in the family car on vacation, if they were lucky enough to take a vacation. One reporter I know proofread in what she called her aqua office—her bathtub. Others even created aqua offices in swimming pools. Once, in a tight, I even proofread a small case while reporting another case.
After World War II, in Chicago, an innovative Gregg shorthand reporter named Horace Webb decided there had to be a way to shorten the labor-intensive transcript production process. Rather than taking the proceedings in shorthand and afterwards dictating from his notes, he devised a way to dictate the proceedings while he was reporting, which eliminated the dictation step. After many prototypes, he invented the stenomask, a silencing device held closely to the mouth and face that muffled any sound created by a reporter’s voice during dictation. Whenever a transcript was ordered, Horace and his followers could simply take the dictation reels or tapes to the typist for transcription. www.nvra.org
With further advances in technology, in the 1990s, Horace Webb’s stenomask was updated and combined with computerized voice-recognition software, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking or IBM Via Voice Gold with specifically-designed software for court reporters utilizing a word processing software such as MS-Word or WordPerfect. The first company to produce software for court reporters using voice-recognition was AudioScribe Corporation in Breaux Bridge near Lafayette, Louisiana. (www.audioscribe.com) Then other vendors followed suit, and there are now half a dozen programs on the market. And while speaking may sound much easier than typing stenotype, it takes great skill to become a stenomask operator or what is today called a voicewriter, particularly a realtime voicewriter, which explains why there are still (in 2012) only a handful of certified realtime voicewriters in the United States. With time, however, there will no doubt be others.
While I continued as a stenotypist, in the 1990s the distal joints of my fingers became inflamed with Heberden's nodes (arthritis), so I investigated the stenomask method and became a certified verbatim reporter through the National Verbatim Reporters Association. Fortunately, taking an anti-inflammatant every day helps with the pain in my fingers, and I have been able to continue stenotyping and typing.
No matter which method was used, however, stenotype or voicewriting, neither system eliminated proofreading by the court reporter. Once proofread, if corrections were necessary—and they almost always were—the reporter returned the transcript along with the carbon copies, and the typist manually inserted each page into the typewriter lining up the keys ever so neatly to make the corrections as undetectable as possible on the erasable bond transcript paper. Oftentimes, it was quicker and easier to simply retype the entire page, which consisted of 25 lines of type double-spaced. Once the typist made the final corrections, the reporter again picked up the transcript for billing, binding, and delivery to all ordering parties.
Reporters historically have worked as either official or free-lance court reporters. Officials are employed by county, city, state, or federal government as 40-hour employees and provided with office space and benefits but usually not equipment and supplies. Free-lance reporters work as independent contractors loosely associated with a group or firm and pay a commission to the agency for finding them work.
In the '70s and '80s, lawyers and reporters maintained offices near courthouses, which were usually in downtown areas of cities, and delivery of transcripts meant dropping them off while walking to and from jobs. Lawyers in a hurry for a transcript often dropped by the reporter’s office to see if their case was completed and picked up their transcripts themselves if it was convenient. With today’s urban sprawl and lawyers’ offices spread all over a region, transcripts are more often than not delivered electronically using electronic transcript formats. And with space constraints in the clerk's offices of courthouses, transcripts are no longer automatically filed with the state or county courts, except in federal cases, and even then, electronic versions are preferred. Only for cases on appeal in a state or county court will the clerks accept a printed transcript in some jurisdictions. Others require electronic transcripts in .pdf format.
With a nationwide shortage of court reporters in the early ‘70s, it was not unusual for the busy reporter to be anywhere from one to six months backlogged in the preparation and delivery of transcripts. Needing transcripts for trials or appeals, lawyers were cognizant of the plight of reporters and catered to their needs by speaking clearly, distinctly, one at a time, and at a manageable pace for the record. Attorneys were appreciative of the many sacrifices reporters made in their personal lives to meet court-imposed deadlines, and they held reporters in high esteem.
Whether today or yesterday, to become a court reporter takes someone with perfectionist tendencies who enjoys challenges and the pressures of meeting deadlines, is self-actualizing, punctual, mature, tenacious, responsible, dependable, conscientious, has excellent organizational skills, enjoys reading, English grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary. The ability to play a musical instrument is one common denominator found among many successful reporters, but it is certainly not a prerequisite, nor is being a production typist, though both skills certainly speed the education process.
Only one out of ten court reporting students graduate from stenotype school, which curriculum is like no other college course. A prospective reporting student graduating with honors from a traditional college offers no guarantee whether he will successfully complete the rigorous course, and this creates tremendous frustration levels and high dropout rates among reporting students and many school closures. Once the student accomplishes one level of speed, there is always another level to which he may aspire. Much as a carpenter builds a house from the foundation up, one cannot build speed without an excellent foundation or knowledge of machine shorthand theory, which has no similarity to Gregg or Pitman shorthand except perhaps that the reporter writes only the sounds that are heard. In other words, if someone said the word “know,” you would press the corresponding keystrokes for “N-O,” as the “k,” “n,” and “w” are all silent. With computerized transcription, however, a distinction must be made in how one writes no and know, whereas in the past, the reporter and typist knew the difference.
For the student to progress from 60 words per minute to the next speed level, she must report, transcribe, and pass at least three five-minute dictation tests of unpracticed literary material, jury charge, and question and answer (Q&A) with a minimum of 95 percent accuracy. Each speed level from 80, 100, 120, 140, 160, 180, 200, and 225 words per minute has the same testing requirements, which after attainment, one will graduate and may sit for a national certification. Schools vary slightly in their specific testing requirements.
Once a national Certificate of Proficiency has been earned, the reporter may then sit for even higher speeds and certifications. For the competitive reporters, they may sit for the National Speed Contest. These challenges apply to both stenotype and stenomask reporters, with stenomask/voicewriter reporters’ testing levels at even higher speeds than stenotype. During reporting school, not only are speedbuilding classes a requirement, but there are academic courses as well, not to mention the many, many hours of practice necessary to succeed. Quite frankly, most fail.
Of the few who are successful in school and graduate, many find that they cannot handle the pressures of the job and leave the field altogether, finding the stress comparable to that of a surgeon or air-traffic controller. An article I recently read about reporter education, which was written by a veteran educator and appeared in the Journal of Court Reporting, was entitled Get Ready, Get Set, Fail. Is it any wonder, then, that there is still a nationwide shortage of court reporters after 30-plus years?
At the annual National Court Reporters Association’s www.ncraonline.org conventions, oftentimes the most heavily populated exhibit booths are those of the chiropractors and massage therapists. While the sedentary work appears to be easy, I assure you that the seemingly mechanical process is anything but. It requires concentration, excellent hearing and listening skills, rapid use of the brain to recognize unfamiliar vocabulary or even familiar vocabulary spoken in varying accents or dialects, professional ethics, a smattering of knowledge about many topics and specialty fields, breathing and relaxation techniques to rest the jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, and wrists while naturally becoming tense chasing that last utterance at warp speed. Reporters are notorious for repetitive stress injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome. Automobile accidents, an accidental fall, arthritis, and other diseases can stop a blossoming career midstream. Years ago, reporters insured their hands through Lloyds of London, and nowadays, many carry own-occupation disability insurance.
After years of labor-intensive typing and dictation, a few brave reporters leapt into the world of computerization in the latter part of the ‘70s after seeing a demonstration of the Baron System’s mainframe computer that seemed to magically turn raw steno outlines into English text, which then eliminated the dictation process for stenotypists. For $180,000 ($639,997 in 2010 dollars), a reporting firm could offer—for a price—its associates the use of one of these executive desk-sized computers. The mainframe required a large room with extra air-conditioning to keep it cool. For the privilege of using the computer, reporters had to purchase new cumbersome electric-touch computerized stenotype machines, which cost approximately $3,500 ($12,444 in 2010 dollars), along with a supply of $4 each digital cassettes, which recorded the electrical impulses from the keys of the stenotype machine onto the cassette. The digital cassettes were reusable once the data had been erased, but you did not dare erase one until all the cases had been read onto the computer and archived.
Each time the reporter hit the on/off key on the Stenograph writer, an invisible mark was placed on the digital cassette, and the reporter had to keep track of every time the machine was turned on and off, or else you might not be able to find the correct case to be transcribed. Once back at the office where the mainframe was housed, reporters signed up for usage time 24 hours a day and paid a per-page royalty fee to have the computer translate their steno notes into English. Contrary to popular belief, not all cases reported by court reporters are ordered to be transcribed, so if the reporter forgot to make the proper notation of the order in which the machine had been turned on and off between cases, she could mistakenly translate the wrong case and then suffer the consequences of paying the per-page royalty that the vendor charged for each translated page. The only hope of recouping the inadvertent cost was if a client later ordered the case transcribed.
For the computer to translate stenotype outlines, a database or dictionary had to be created by highlighting every word or phrase on a page of transcript and then defining or connecting the particular steno outline to its English equivalent. In the ‘70s, the storage device was a plastic-encased disk about the size of a 12-inch round pizza. As reporters changed throughout the day, they inserted their own personal dictionary disk into the computer and from that disk translated their notes into English. In the beginning, a reporter could have typed the page faster than defining every single word for storage on the disk, but after approximately six months to a year of struggling, the reporter began to see the translation rate improve.
With round-the-clock usage of the mainframe, it soon became evident that a second unit was necessary to meet deadlines, particularly when the first computer was down for repairs, which was often. The computer repairman became a familiar sight and friend. With computerization, however, clients believed that a court reporter’s work was now easier, cheaper, and could be produced faster, which was far from the truth in the first decade. Consequently, lawyers started waiting until the last minute to schedule depositions and expected their transcripts delivered quicker than ever before. Computerization seemed to speed the pace of the court reporting world, including the rate at which lawyers spoke and expected transcripts.
What everyone was unaware of then—and even now, for that matter—is the hidden nature of a reporter’s work, all of which takes time, such as translation, editing, research, printing, proofreading, correcting, indexing, certifying, filing, binding, billing, and delivery of the transcript, not to mention running a small business, which entails hiring and training new reporters and support personnel, purchasing equipment and supplies, keeping abreast of the latest technological offerings through continuing education, traveling to and from cases, calendaring, and recordkeeping, payroll, and banking.
To meet all the demands, reporters simply had to work harder by reporting more cases and work smarter by hiring a scopist, a new occupation that evolved with computerization. Scopists were oftentimes former notereaders or someone who had studied stenotype and could not report for one reason or another. Since they could read notes, they scoped the notes and defined untranslates, edited misstrokes and conflicts. Untranslates were words that had not been previously entered into the reporter’s dictionary or database, and conflicts were caused by the reporter writing words that sounded alike in the same keystrokes, such as red/read, their/there/they’re, led/lead, here/hear, which the computer could not resolve. Before computers, with the reporter, notereader, or typist preparing transcripts, there were no difficulties knowing whether to type “to” or “too,” “hear” or “here,” etc., but without a brain, the best the software could offer was a choice of possibilities from which the scopist could choose the correct word.
With so many conflicts appearing per page, to save time and money, I changed the manner in which I wrote many of the conflicting words, thereby eliminating as many conflicts as possible. The cleaner the writing, the better the translation and the less work there was for the scopist, and the faster the turnaround. As software engineers continued working with reporters through their CAT (computer-aided translation) vendors, translation speeds increased, so much so that realtime was born—translation of the spoken word into the written word almost simultaneously.
While high-volume reporters are in the field, scopists have continued accomplishing much of the post-production work by preparing rough drafts for the reporter to proofread as well as making final corrections, printing transcripts on silent laser printers or creating miniscripts (condensed transcripts with four to six pages on a single page) and .pdfs, but in the ‘70s and ‘80s, printing on two loud dot-matrix Texas Instruments floor model printers required sound-deadener coverings to muffle the noise made by the print head hitting the laser-cut carbon sets.
In agency offices, a room was required to hold the decollator and burster. The first decollators were hand-operated and removed the carbon from between each copy. Later they were motorized. Depending on how many copies were ordered, a reporter, scopist, or office assistant might have to decollate one transcript three or four times due to the number of copies printed. After the messy carbon paper was removed by hand, then the edges containing the holes for the paper to advance through the printer had to be broken away. If the firm could afford it, there would be an electric-powered burster, which actually burst the paper apart into separate pages so you could bind the transcript. Otherwise, bursting was done manually. Fortunately, the paper was already three-hole punched for binding.
Today, not only must the reporter learn all that was required in the 1970s to become a court reporter, but she must now become electronics-savvy and computer-savvy as well. While stenotype machines are computers in their own right with built-in redundancy for mechanical failures, we now can link our writers either via cable or wirelessly to our notebook computers and view the realtime text stream as we take down the proceedings. Both the stenotype machine and the notebook computer house the personal dictionaries, and they both translate simultaneously in realtime. Dictionary management and archiving are time-consuming additions to the reporter’s work.
Reporters who have passed the coveted national realtime certifications receive a five percent salary increase in federal court for providing the value-added service of a realtime feed to the court. And with certification, an extra fee may be charged to lawyers who connect their notebook computers with the reporter’s computer so they can view the transcript in realtime and make use of litigation support software, such as LiveNote, Bridge, CaseView, Summation, etc., to annotate, quick-mark, auto-tag issues, and run reports. Streaming text over the Internet to an expert witness anywhere in the world allows the reporter to charge an extra fee as well.
Most court reporters—both freelance and official, steno and voice—purchase their own equipment; however, there are always exceptions. And since a court reporter is technically out of business without equipment, most reporters own at least two of everything necessary to perform their duties. The proprietary software for court reporters runs approximately $5,000 on today’s market (2012) with a professional model notebook computer costing about $2,500 at a minimum, and the latest model computerized stenotype machine costs approximately $5,000 today.
Voicewriters spend a comparable amount on their hardware and software as well. Notebook and desktop computers need to be professional models rather than consumer grade, and the same goes for printers. There are annual maintenance contracts on stenotype machines, which have to be shipped usually to the manufacturer or to an authorized repair facility for maintenance, and that cost is approximately $500-700 per year per machine for a service contract. CAT software vendors charge annual fees for updates, support, and key codes at the rate of approximately $800 per year.
Membership in state associations varies around the country. Some states require state certification before a reporter may work in that state. Others accept the national standard as their state’s standard, and some states have no particular requirements at all. Membership in a national association runs approximately $200-300 per year, and maintaining certification requires attendance at conventions for continuing education units, which easily can run $2-3,000 per year depending on the reporter’s proximity to larger cities where conventions are usually held. Most state associations offer local seminars at lower prices, and some continuing education units may be obtained by attending online classes.
Depending on workload, a reporter may engage the services of scopists and/or proofreaders, and those fees are in direct correlation to the amount of transcripts ordered to be transcribed and how much work the reporter has contracted to report. Rarely does a reporter’s equipment fail; however, on the off chance that there may be a problem, a good reporter will have a spare in close proximity—the trunk of the car or nearby office—so as to eliminate or shorten delays in proceedings.
Since only 27 percent of stenotype reporters in the U.S. actually work in courtrooms, the majority are free-lance reporters, communication access realtime translation (CART) reporters, and captioners, which are other avenues of employment for those with court reporting skills. CART reporting involves the reporter accompanying late-deafened or deaf clients, for example, to college classes, doctor’s offices, employment-related seminars, etc., to provide instant conversion of speech into text using the court reporter’s realtime translation equipment, and some reporters even use their skills for medical transcription data entry. One can always use machine shorthand or voice recognition in a law office in conjunction with a paralegal or secretarial position, so all is not lost if one cannot meet all the demands of becoming a freelance or official court reporter.
Do I think modern technology someday will replace court reporters? If I had the answer to that question, I most likely would not be a court reporter. In my wildest dreams I would never have been able to predict that my chosen field of stenography would have changed as it has in the past 38 years. And while there have been many threats to the livelihood of court reporters for even longer than I have reported, nothing yet has been able to compete with a competent, ethical, skilled, and intelligent human being acting as the keeper of the record. I suspect it will be a long, long time before a machine can do the exact same work as well.
And if reporters are ever to be replaced with some type of technological marvel in the courtroom, the legal community as well as the general public should always insist that a person who fills the role of the historical scribe, the court stenographer, the modern-day court reporter, should be present as the unbiased protector and keeper of the record to ensure that our country’s system of checks and balances continues in order to provide equality within the judicial system.
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Wow! Your article is a credit to every stenographer/court reporter on the planet, both actively engaged and retired!! The article is indeed worthy of publication as a tribute to all court reporters, to their dedication to the intense training undertaken to develop the skills required of their profession. In addition your paper is a most impressive history of the transformation over the centuries of 'keeping the record' and at the same time the commonalities of all scribes. After reading your article I felt like standing a bit taller in my semi-retired shoes.
A simple thank you doesn't seem enough for what you have given to us all as court reporters present, past, and future.
Diane, this post is an amazing piece of history few people know about or have an appreciation for. You have made us all think and it's awesome!!
Diane, I totally enjoyed this narrative; the history of a court reporter/stenographer/voicewriter etc... You are right, there aren't too many people I know that could do what you do for very long! Bravo to you!
Great story! What a role technology has played in our lives and still continues to play today. It was very interesting to read how much it has affected the court reporters roles. I would love to see how the voicewriters work. As someone else is talking, I have tried to repeat and record exactly what they are saying. It is not easy at all. You have accomplished much!!! I’m glad that you are still able to use your fingers. How could we ever exist if we couldn’t type?
Thanks for sharing!
I just ran across this wonderful educational history of reporting..I see it's a few years old, but I want to commend you on such a delightful, enlightening story, for both reporters as well as non-reporters!
I came into the field in 1988..I remember the dictating and driving two hours RT to deliver tapes to the typists...luckily I only did that for six months before moving on to the data tapes...and then of course all the steps up to RT reporting...fascinating article (made me remember things I had forgotten)...I also hate how people (some family included) have no idea what it takes, in school and in the day-to-day work force, to do this job! you know, their college degrees are way superior to my "typing" work...ha!
I am going to try to print this to have on hand!
Thanks for your kind comments. I'm sorry it has taken me so long to reply!!!! My husband developed sarcoma from exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, and he suffered for about four years with it having multiple hospitalizations and surgeries. Meanwhile, as he was ill, I became ill and had heart failure from a faulty aortic valve, which caused me to have to have open heart surgery on 4/11/15. Then my husband became worse, and he passed away on 3/3/16 at our local Hospice House. My life was basically on hold for three or four years. I had to completely forget about most all the things in life I enjoyed, this site being one, and turn my attention to my husband and my own health. I wanted to be a personal historian in my retirement, but my heart took care of that! I'm just now beginning to feel a little normalcy in my life again!
I agree with you 100% about the "degreed" folks who have no earthly idea the intelligence and quick mind it takes to do what we do. I daresay 99% of people with a college degree couldn't do stenotype. With every case we take, we learn about many occupations, fields of study, and employment that most people have no exposure to in their daily lives, thereby providing us with an education unlike any you would receive in a classroom. We are in court more in one year than the average lawyer is in their entire career. We have had to learn unfamiliar vocabulary and colloquialisms, comprehend them, learn their parts of speech and how they're used, how to spell them properly--something the average person barely knows nowadays--and get them on paper as rapidly as they were said. Hardly anyone appreciates the hard work as much as another court reporter! You should be VERY PROUD of yourself and your profession. You started just on the cusp of the computer age taking hold in the reporting field, so you're lucky you didn't have to dictate very long! It was a long, hard learning curve at first, but once you built your dictionary, it finally began to pay off. At first I thought, I could have typed this page five times in the time it's taken me to define words, etc. Then I'd hit a button and erase it and have to start all over. Good grief! I can't believe I lived through it all! Anyway, I hope you receive this little note. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated hearing from you!