So let me ask you, do you prefer stenocaptioning to all other types of captioning? Have you noticed how much better the quality is from a stenocaptioner (steno) and are thinking to yourself, “Yes, that’s the service I want all the time”? The fact is that captions provided by an experienced steno provide the best quality by far. So why do people put up with less? You’re paying the big bucks but you aren’t getting the Rolls-Royce service and the captions aren’t of a consistent quality because the service isn’t always delivered by a steno.
In this industry both court reporters and captioners are being made redundant and the captions-using community is being flooded with untruths about costs and technology. Over the past 30 years of my career hardly a day has gone by where I haven’t been asked, or told, in one way or other, “Aren’t you worried about technology making you redundant? There’s no future for this job.” And yet here I still am 30 years on and this is a valuable service that people really need. It seems it’s a case of the old adage: repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth, often referred to as the “illusion of truth”. But it is simply not true and it’s astounding when you consider the disparity in quality between stenocaptioners and other forms of captioning. Simply put, if the outcome is important to you then you need a steno. You only need to ask yourself how you like your captioning and what turns you off. What TV channels or programs do you prefer to watch live captioning on? When you book a captioner, do you prefer to have a steno do the job for you and why? Do you want your captioning verbatim or edited? Is the integrity of the record or transcript higher when a steno has done the job? And if the integrity of the record is important to you then you definitely need a steno doing the job.
Many cite the cost of a steno as being the reason for using other means of captioning but what is the true cost in quality and caption integrity? Technology is often touted as a cheaper solution but technology does not replace the human brain or the skill of a highly-trained stenographer. What happens when technology doesn’t work, which happens far more often than people like to admit, and important evidence or information is lost? And are stenos too expensive? In the current wage environment in Australia where casualisation of the workforce and low-wage growth is an acknowledged issue, steno wages have fallen dramatically and contracting or casualisation is on the rise. At many large companies that employ stenos, wages have dropped between 13% - 33% in less than five years. And what about the falsehood that other forms of captioning are less expensive? Just not true. In most cases more lower-skilled captioners, respeakers, typists or audio recorders are needed to replace a single steno, not to mention the cost of purchasing and installing the equipment needed for non-steno options to do the job and the ongoing software and equipment upgrades.
I know, so many questions, right? But it’s only through asking questions and considering these things that a true picture can be formed. Speak up and get what you want. Use a company that uses only stenographers. It’s not only about supporting stenos but supporting a quality product and supporting the communities that need and use captioning.
At CaptionsLIVE you can afford to have a steno caption for you. You can afford the very best. As well as that we pay our contractors well so they are paid a fair wage for an extremely difficult job. We are a business that is owned and run by a steno and supported by stenos. We know what it’s like to be at your job and what it takes to provide the highest quality captioning. We put our own reputations on the line every time we caption for you and we always put you first, never prioritising profits over quality and skill.