Court Reporting & Stenography
Schools by State
One of the most important components of a career in court reporting is court reporting software. Learning to operate a stenotype machine or use a stenomask is certainly necessary for this type of work, but learning to use the software required to produce a transcript is the distinguishing feature of court reporting that really sets court reporters apart from word processors.
For stenotype machine writers, development of what is referred to in the industry as a “personal dictionary” usually begins while the court reporter is still in training. This dictionary is the soul of the court reporter’s career. Using court reporting software, a court reporter defines how each of the strokes made on the stenotype machine should be translated. The strokes are defined by the court reporter to translate into words, phrases, punctuation, parenthetical expressions, and other indications to appear in the transcript. When a court reporter’s dictionary is used with court reporting software, the stenographic notes made on a stenotype machine are instantly translated into readable text. A court reporter’s dictionary is unique to him or her, and it is carefully guarded, as well as continually updated and maintained, throughout the court reporter’s career.
Similar to the personal dictionaries of stenotype machine writers, voice writers develop personal voice files in speech-recognition software. Significant time is devoted to creating and maintaining these voice files, and they are completely unique to the voice writer who creates them. These files are used in conjunction with specialized voice writer court reporting software to produce transcripts.
In addition to the translation features of court reporting software, it also incorporates many editing shortcuts. The editing of a transcript is referred to as “scoping.” This unique editing is usually performed by a scopist or the court reporter who took the job. There are versions of court reporting software available for people who work solely as scopists. This software incorporates the many editing features available in the full version of the program, but it does not include certain parts of the program which would only be used by the court reporter, such as those necessary for performing realtime translation or creation of a digital room seating chart.
Purchasing Court Reporting Software
As could likely be anticipated, there is a very limited market for court reporting software, and it is definitely not a product you can buy at your local office supply store. There are less than ten companies producing court reporting software, and orders are placed either online or over the phone.
For educational institutions, because software licensing must be purchased, most court reporter training programs generally offer courses that focus on one particular software program. As a result, court reporting graduates tend to purchase the software program on which he or she receives training while in school. However, some students may be introduced to various software programs through demonstrations by company representatives visiting their classrooms, as well as demo booths at national and state court reporting conventions. Because these software programs are very similar, adapting to the one that best fits your needs and preferences is reasonably easy.
Some court reporting software is designed to best perform when used with the designing company’s stenotype machines and stenomasks. Some court reporting software companies sell only software, and it is designed to work with almost every available stenotype machine. The major court reporting software providers currently are Stenograph, Advantage Software, ProCAT, Gigatron, and Stenovations.
Stenograph offers a software program for computer-aided transcription called Case CATalyst. This program is available in a professional edition ($3,923.65), a scopist edition ($1,547.15), and a student edition ($495.00). For realtime caption providers, there is also CATalyst BCS “Broadcast Captioning Suite” ($7,990.00). CATalyst VP ($5,590.00) is available for stenomask voice writers.
Advantage Software offers a program called Eclipse for computer-aided transcription. There are versions of the program for the stenotype machine ($3,995.00), stenomask ($4,995.00), and a combination of stenotype machine and stenomask ($5,590.00). There is also a scopist version ($1,595.00) and student versions for stenotype machine ($399.00) and stenomask ($499.00). Broadcast captioning software called AccuCap is available in versions for stenotype machines ($6,995.00), stenomasks ($7,995.00), and a combination of both captioning input methods ($8,590.00).
Available from ProCAT is a computer-aided transcription software called Winner XP for realtime stenotype machine reporters. There is a professional edition ($3,995.00) and a student edition. Winner VR ($4,995.00) is ProCAT’s professional software for voice writers. CaptiVision ($1,495.00) is captioning software for stenotype machine captioners and voice captioners.
Gigatron sells a software program for stenotype machine reporters. StenoCAT 32 is available in a reporter version ($3,999.00), a scopist version, and a student version ($99.00/year).
Stenovations offers a software and support product for stenotype machine reporters. DigitalCAT is available in a reporter version ($300.00/year plus $79.00/month) and a scopist version ($250.00/year). There is also a captioning upgrade for stenotype machine captioners.
The best time to begin exploring court reporting software options is while you are still in training. Take advantage of the demonstrations and special prices offered to students by the software companies. Choosing your software is an important decision. Use the opportunities you have as a student to choose the software that is the right program for your particular career plans.
Written by Suzanne Lee, CCR on 1/5/2013 Suzanne has been a court reporter and worked in legal communities for over 18 years.
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