Voice Writing




Voice writing is another form of court reportingVoice writing is a method of court reporting that was first developed in the early 1940s.  It primarily involves the court reporter’s repeating verbatim all of the words spoken by the participants in a proceeding.  Like a stenotype machine reporter, a voice writer must also identify each speaker, punctuate where appropriate, and indicate notations for parenthetical phrases.  A voice writer court reporter must also swear in witnesses for some proceedings, as well as mark exhibits.  Except for the method of taking down the record, voice writers perform the same duties as those performed by machine writers.

Similar to learning the method of machine shorthand, the time it takes to learn the method of voice writing varies from person to person.  Comparatively speaking, though, voice writing generally takes less time to master than learning to use a stenotype machine.  Most educational institutions offering voice writing programs design them to be completed in six months to a year.  Training involves learning the technique of trailing behind the speaker while creating an audible recording.  Another aspect of training involves learning to efficiently operate the specialized equipment used for voice writing.  In addition to learning the method and how to operate the equipment, training in other courses, such as legal terminology, medical terminology, and courtroom procedures, is also part of the curriculum for many voice writing programs.

There have been great advances in technology since voice writing was first introduced.  Voice writers use a hand-held device called a “stenomask” to create an audio recording of the proceedings he or she has been asked to cover.  This special mask completely covers the voice writer’s mouth and incorporates a voice silencer that, when used properly, prevents the court reporter’s voice from being heard by the proceeding participants, even if they are only a few inches away.  Modern stenomasks are designed with the most effective voice silencing materials available, as well as highly sensitive microphones.  These stenomasks can connect directly to the court reporter’s laptop computer, and, when used in conjunction with voice recognition software, allow the court reporter to provide realtime services, in the same manner as their colleagues using stenotype machines.  Voice recognition software and stenomask technology will continue to improve, making voice writers very competitive in the advancing field of court reporting.  Also read "Technology in Court Reporting" for additional information about the different types of technologies used by stenographers and reporters.

To ensure that voice writers maintain professional standards comparable to those required of machine writers, the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA) grants certifications to those reporters who display certain levels of achievement.  The Certified Verbatim Reporter (CVR) certification is granted to those voice writers who successfully pass a written examination and a skills test.  Like the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) examination granted to machine writers by the National Court Reporters Association, the speeds required for the CVR are 180 words per minute on literary material, 200 words per minute on jury charge material, and 225 words per minute on question-and-answer material.  These exam sections must be completed with 95 percent accuracy.

Earn a certificate or degree in stenography, specifically voice writingOther certifications are offered by the NVRA, including the Certified Verbatim Reporter-Certificate of Merit (CVR-CM) certification, which requires speeds of 200, 240, and 260 words per minute with the same 95 percent accuracy.  Certifications for Realtime Verbatim Reporter (RVR), Registered Broadcast Captioner (RBC), and Registered CART Provider (RCP) are granted for successful completion of examinations given at 180 words per minute with accuracy of 95 percent.

At this time, not all court systems allow the voice writing method to be used as a means for taking down the record.  The practice of voice writing is allowed in the judicial systems of the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington, DC.  As voice writing continues to develop and its effectiveness is realized by members of the legal community, it will become more accepted as an equal alternative to machine shorthand.

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Written by , CCR on 9/28/2012 Suzanne has been a court reporter and worked in legal communities for over 18 years. 

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