Speech-to-text

What is speech-to-text?

The Speech-To-Text Reporter (STTR) types speech word-for- word, which is relayed onto a lap-top for the deaf person to read. The lap-top can be linked to a projector and projected onto a screen. Speech-to-text is sometimes known as Palantype or Stenograph.

A “first draft” transcript can be provided of proceedings, but this is at the individual STTR’s discretion and there may be an additional charge for this service. If possible, request the transcript at the time of booking.

When is speech-to-text used?

A deaf or hard of hearing person attending a meeting may request speech-to-text. A lap-top will be sufficient if just one or two people are using the facility. The STTR will need to sit next to the reader.

An organisation planning conferences, seminars and larger workshops events open to the public could include speech-to-text to ensure the event is widely accessible. For bigger events, the lap-top should be linked to a projector and projected onto a white screen, or multiple plasma screens, within sight of the audience or participants. In this situation, the STTR will sit at the front centre or side of the hall next to the projector or VGA connection.

How many speech-to-text operators will be necessary?

One STT operator may be able to cover a short event of up two hours, but at least one rest break of 5-10 minutes should be programmed in.

For longer events, two reporters will be necessary. Ask the individual STTR (directly or via the agency) at the time of booking whether or not they require a co-worker.

Speech-to-text equipment

The operators bring their own keyboard and lap-top.

You may need to provide:

  • electric socket
  • hazard tape for cables
  • table for the lap-top
  • armless chair for the operator

and if the speech-to-text is relayed onto a large screen:

  • projector
  • linking VGA cable
  • screen

Finding Speech to Text Operators

There are currently only two qualified speech-to-text operators in Wales. It may be necessary to bring STT operators from England. Check that STTRs are CACDP Registered.

The agencies which provide sign language interpreters and lipspeakers also have STT operators on their books. You should book well ahead of the event to avoid disappointment.

Action points

  • If you have never worked with STTR before, you are advised to consult first with a deaf people’s organisation or with DAC
  • Check whether deaf and hard-of hearing people would be likely to attend the event you are planning
  • Check that STT is appropriate for your event
  • Include budget for STT in grant applications
  • Contact the agency well in advance; give the agency as much information as possible

When you have booked the Speech To Text Reporters:

  • Send full information about the event. Include:
    • script, transcript of speeches or speakers notes
    • running order or agenda
    • timetable with get-in and get-out times
    • directions and parking
    • contact details of key staff
    • Include STTRs names on programme. Note that at meetings and conferences, STTRs should be listed separately, and not included in the list of delegates

Practicalities at the event

  • Delegate a key person to be responsible for liaising with STTR during the event
  • Discuss appropriate lighting and position with STTR and technician, bearing in mind amplification system / need for headphones (a particular issue for conferences)
  • Refreshments: Include STTR when calculating meals and refreshments for company and crew

Further Information

The Association of Verbatim Speech to Text Reporters’ website (AVSTTR) has further information and STTR contact details.

CACDP’s website compiles a directory of Registered STTRs

The British Institute of Verbatim Reporters’ website (BIVR) also lists contact details of STTRs

Wales Council for Deaf People (communication support). Tel: 01443 485 687 Email: wcdeaf@freenet.org.uk

RNID Communication Services Cymru. Tel: 01792 324477, Textphone: 01792 324455, Fax: 01792 324422, Email:csuneath@rnid.org.uk

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