Currently, there are several systems in use as a means to accomplish the court
reporter's task: pen-and-ink shorthand, stenotype, and voice writing. All three
systems are viable and none is intrinsically better than the other. Used by a
competent court reporter, any of the three will produce a verbatim record.
Voice reporting or stenomask is the "new kid on the block" vis-a-vis court reporting takedown methods. The Stenomask is a silencing device into which a
reporter speaks repeating behind all speakers what they say plus identifying the
speakers in the process. The reporter makes a verbatim record of the reporter's
voice. That voice record is then reduced to writing producing a transcript. Used
properly, the Voice Reporter does not allow the other participants in the room to
hear the reporter's voice.
Since the Voice Reporter uses familiar language skills, training with the
Stenomask does not involve the long, arduous repetition characteristic of a
traditional stenotype course. The accomplished Voice Reporter can take dictation
with greater accuracy at any speed than can stenotype or shorthand reporters. The
skilled Voice Reporter is accurate, fast and silent.
The Stenomask is on the cusp of the technological explosion underway in the
computer industry. Speech recognition systems now available for Voice Reporters
allow us to make our voice notes onto a laptop computer. The program digitizes
our voice and "translates" it into words on the screen. Attorneys and courts can
have the day's proceedings on disk before anyone leaves the deposition room or
courtroom! The system is operator dependent. An open microphone will not do the
job. There needs to be a reporter feeding the laptop, identifying speakers, dictating
the format throughout the proceedings. This reliance on the reporter ensures the
reporter's role for decades to come. Producing a transcript using this system is
quick and does not rely upon tedious word processing. In other words, no more
typing or keyboarding!