Speech-to-Text Reporters: Demanding Trade and People Skills


September 25th marked the World Deaf Day that aims to draw attention to the situation of deaf or hearing impaired persons. Deaf people, the hearing impaired and people with hearing loss need communication devices in everyday life but also in very specific situations. Speech-to-text reporting is one option. This year's REHACARE will feature a workshop on this subject.

"Speech-to-text reporting is a communication tool for hearing impaired persons who are competent in the written language. Speech-to-text reporting converts spoken language into written form, so that the spoken word can be simultaneously seen and read," explains Mario Kaul, co-founder of Schriftdolmetscher NRW (English: Speech-to-Text Reporters North Rhine-Westphalia). Depending on the situation, the text is displayed on a monitor, mobile end device or a screen. At this year's REHACARE trade fair, visitors aren't just able to get information about speech-to-text reporting, they also get the chance to watch a live demonstration.           

Image: A man with glasses is sitting infront of a laptop. On his lap lies a keyboard; Copyright: private

Speech-to-text interpreters translate the spoken word into a written form, so that people who are profoundly deaf or became deaf during their life can read simultaneously the spoken words; © private

Speech to text

Speech-to-text reporting services are mainly used by profoundly deaf people and those suffering from hearing loss. Many affected parties who became hearing impaired or deaf later in life often don't know sign language, but they are familiar with the spoken language. That's why speech-to-text reporters are especially well-suited to meet their needs.    

The applications for speech-to-text reporters are very varied: reporters can assist in training and continuing education, performance reviews, medical rehabilitation or courtrooms. "Speech-to-text reporters are needed anywhere communication for and with a hearing impaired person takes place," explains Kaul. The objective behind it is for hearing impaired persons to be able to understand and communicate on an equal footing with others. This should be guaranteed, especially in important situations such as visits to the court or a physician.

Speech-to-text reporting means writing down and storing everything that’s heard. The advantage is that particularly complicated information can be better understood and re-read again at a later time.

The highs and lows of speech-to-text reporting

"One challenge is to be able to manage this technology. That means you need to be able to write very fast. The other challenge pertains to the translation aspect. You need to record input and create a text from it at the same time," Kaul explains the difficulties of the profession. "Speech-to-text reporters don't always accompany people during the best phases of their lives. These can also be difficult situations, for instance, when visiting a doctor. This might mean psychological stress for the translator."

Having said that, the good aspects of the jobs outweigh the bad. To Kaul, the variety is the appealing part. "On the one hand is the demanding manual skill that's required – fast, reliable and accurate typing. On the other hand is the direct contact with different people. You almost always get immediate feedback and overall enjoy pleasant customer contact."

Speech-to-text reporting at REHACARE 2016

Many people don't know speech-to-text reporting is available, how they should imagine it or that they are entitled to receive this communication aid. That's why at REHACARE, the main objective is education. Mario Kaul and Schriftdolmetscher NRW, for whom this already marks the fourth time at REHACARE, are exhibitors in the Theme Park for Hearing Impairment, along with many others like the German Society for the Hearing Impaired, the German Association for Deaf Persons and sign language interpreters. This way, visitors have the opportunity to receive information in concerted form on the subject of hearing impairment and communication.

This year marks the first time Schriftdolmetscher NRW offers a workshop with live demonstrations at REHACARE. Here, two people will host the workshop while two others are simultaneously going to speech-to-text report. This way, people with hearing impairments have the opportunity to immediately see how speech-to-text reporting works. "We are also open to people who consider speech-to-text reporting as a profession. We also try to address this group with this workshop," Kaul explains. "This year, the workshop is the most exciting part. We are really looking forward to it."

The workshop will take place on September 30, 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM in the Dialog Center, CCD Süd (South), Seminar Room 17.

More information about Schriftdolmetschen NRW at: www.schriftdolmetscher-nrw.de

This article was written by Olga Wart
and translated from German by Elena O'Meara.