We get this question a lot.
To answer, let’s start with a short video.
The basics of TypeWell
As you saw, TypeWell is both a software and a service. The software allows trained transcribers, either remote or on location, to keep pace with lectures and conversations so that consumers can access communication in real time. TypeWell transcription results in an almost-instant script appearing on a user’s own laptop or other device via linking.
TypeWell was originally developed for use by students with hearing loss in educational settings, but over the last 15 years, TypeWell has been successfully used in business, community, and government settings as well.
Not jotted notes, not verbatim
You may be thinking that TypeWell transcription sounds a lot like note-taking. Or maybe you’re imagining the captions you see scrolling across the bottom of the screen while watching football/fútbol at a pub or watching news at an airport.
Here’s how TypeWell transcription is a little different from both of these access alternatives.
TypeWell transcription is what we call “meaning-for-meaning transcription” as opposed to “word for word transcription.” Since spoken English -- especially off-the-cuff spoken English -- is usually not exactly grammatically correct, TypeWell transcribers do not create verbatim transcripts the way a live closed captioning service might. Sometimes, verbatim transcripts can be cluttered with incomplete sentences, random filler words, and false starts. This can create a confusing or challenging read in the moment.
TypeWell transcribers might omit false starts, speech fillers, and repeated content. Check out these examples:
"I wanted to show -- I brought in an article to show you.”
“I brought in an article to show you.”
“Um, so, I can’t understand, like, what is going on here.”
“I can’t understand what is going on here.”
“Please read chapters... 6 and 7. Read 6 and 7 for tomorrow.”
“Please read chapters 6 and 7 for tomorrow.”
TypeWell transcription still provides much more information than note-taking would. Note-takers already decide what information from a lecture or meeting is important, often using bullet points or fragments, and leaving out the rest. TypeWell transcription provides full and accurate content and meaning from each sentence spoken, even though it’s not transcribed verbatim. That way, the reader gets to decide what to take away from their lecture or meeting, not the transcribers.
More than just fast fingers
TypeWell transcribers are, indeed, fast typists, but they owe most of their success to their training on the abbreviation software and specialized transcribing techniques, their quick processing and mental stamina, and the best practices companies like Strada employ to keep their hands and minds fresh for each assignment.
To use TypeWell or not to use TypeWell…
This is another question we get a lot. We can work with you on the answer!
TypeWell isn’t for everyone or for every situation. A verbatim transcript may meet someone's needs better depending on the context (think: courtroom or graduate level physics). Or someone may prefer sign language interpreting to reading a screen. Still, TypeWell is a great option to consider for facilitating communication with many people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing.
As a coordinator or disability access professional, whenever you try to figure out the best access solution, you should ask whoever you're working with what they prefer.
But we hope you feel free to talk to us too. We’d love to answer any questions you have about TypeWell and its alternatives in light of your needs. Give us a call at (866) 758-0194 or send us an email at email@example.com.
Ellie has been a TypeWell transcriber with Strada for two years. A former teacher, she has an MFA in writing, and she lives in Upstate New York.