There is an ongoing jockeying for superiority between meaning-for-meaning transcription systems (TypeWell, C-Print) and verbatim communication access (CART). Each system designed with the same goal: real-time communication access for the reader. And, each system within reasonable expectations ( there is no such thing as 100% accuracy), provides that access.
Meaning-for-meaning (M4M) systems such as TypeWell do this by use of an abbreviation system, a massive dictionary, and the training of a transcriber to “chunk” information – retaining all the meaning, and discarding utterances that have no informational value (um, hmm…etc) while retaining all the content. C.A.R.T is a derivative of the court reporting system, and those “writers” or “captioners” as they are sometimes referred to reach their goal by capturing nearly every utterance that occurs in any given situation.
TypeWell Transcription is a meaning-for-meaning speech-to-text system. Originally developed for use in classroom settings for students who were deaf or hard-of-hearing, TypeWell has been successfully used with persons experiencing other types of disabilities such as Traumatic Brain Injury, Autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, and other communication disorders that affect auditory processing.
Common Myths about Meaning-for-Meaning Transcripts
1. Meaning-for-Meaning transcripts are “just notes”. The term notes would indicate that the full content of the class or meeting was missing. Both TypeWell and C-Print train transcribers to retain and process the full content of the event. Notes also connote the idea of an outline of “highlights” and “important points” with large portions of content missing. However, a meaning-for-meaning transcript is many pages long, containing the complete meaning of the interaction including exchanges between people, and references or summaries of material that was read or videos that were shown.
2. Meaning-for-Meaning transcribers “decide what’s important”. Transcribers decide what are content containing utterances, and transcribe those. False starts, exact repetitions, guttural utterances (hmm, um, uh, etc) and things which do not provide meaningful content are not included. Transcribers do not decide what information is important or not important, nor do they judge the accuracy or relevance of the information being presented. What they are judging is if something IS information. Stuttering, stammering and stalling when trying to think of a word, or collecting one’s thoughts does not provide meaningful content for listeners. Transcribers do include vocal intonation for emotional information, jokes, banter and environmental cues.
3.Verbatim is best. You need all the words. The trouble with verbatim transcripts is they are, well, verbatim. Most people do not speak in grammatically correct English sentences. We speak in fragmented sentences, run-on sentences, and with other grammatical errors. So, when the CART provider hears someone say something that is not grammatically correct, that is exactly what shows up on the transcript. And the reader is left lagging behind trying to decode what was just said instead of thinking thoughtfully about the information presented.
Here is an example comparing meaning-for meaning and verbatim transcripts from the TypeWell.com website:
The next phase was the war on poverty between 1964 and 1974. The war on poverty expanded the public assistance programs and had the goal of eliminating poverty in the United States. This was the first time they were talking about poverty as the total issue, not just destitution and poor people.
The next phase of it was the war on poverty. This period was between 1964 and 1974. The war on poverty expanded the public assistance programs and literally had as its goal the elimination of poverty, the elimination of poverty in the United States. And this was really the first time ever in history that they are now really talking about poverty as the total issue, focusing on poverty itself, and not just destitution and poor people.
Clearly, all the content was captured in a much shorter easy to read paragraph. The facts, content and intention of the verbatim transcript is neatly contained in the meaning-for-meaning content that is shown.