An Oklahoma court reporter plays a vital role in all court proceedings that take place. That is because they are responsible for recording every spoken word, along with documenting who said it. In order for a court reporter to capture every word, they must be able to hear the proceedings and record them in real time.
In years past, this seemingly insurmountable task was completed via shorthand. Shorthand is an abbreviated way of writing that allows the transcriber to keep pace with the speech. This method was used until 1877 when an early version of the stenotype machine was invented by Miles Bartholomew. Bartholomew was a court reporter who was looking for a way to replace the pen and paper method of transcribing with the use of his invention.
Nowadays, before entering a courtroom court reporters receive special training to learn the legal terminology used in court proceedings. Additionally, reporters learn how to use special equipment, such as the stenotype machine, utilized for recording court proceedings. Court reporters also learn how to create a legal record of court hearings, depositions, and any other capacity that requires an official transcript.
Before becoming a court reporter, those wishing to have a successful career will first need to satisfy some basic requirements and standards that have been established through a certified court reporting school that has been accredited by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). On average, it takes about three years to complete all the required courses. Depending on the institution, some schools require that candidates’ complete prerequisites in subjects such as keyboarding or data entry. Additional coursework may include information on keyboarding, machine shorthand, law, legal terminology, vocabulary, proofreading, medical terminology, dictation, ethics, and more. Aside from learning all the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful, students must also practice for extended periods of time with a stenotype machine, as 225 words per minute is the minimum requirement to pass keyboarding.
Upon completion of the necessary coursework, students will then be able to sit for the licensing test. Each state has different requirements, but the standard includes a written exam along with a performance-based dictation test.
As was previously mentioned, the sole responsibility of a court reporter is to accurately capture and transcribe every spoken word throughout a court proceeding. The most common way that this task is completed is with the assistance of a stenotype machine. This machine has evolved since 1877 when first invented by Bartholomew, but it uses the same concept. In order to record words, sounds, and phrases quickly, multiple keys are pressed at the same time. A stenotype machine is composed of 22 black, unmarked keys that are set up in such a way that they resemble a piano’s keys. These keys are used to represent a part of the alphabet, requiring the user to use combinations of keys to make up for the missing letters.
Rather than typing out actual words, the stenotype machine produces a phonetic code that is more closely related to sound. This allows court reporters to keep up with the fast-paced conversations. Older machines would print out this code on a piece of steno paper that rolled out of the machine, more modern methods include a digital readout screen on the machine itself.
Over the years, there have been numerous methods for producing and translating the phonetic records. The most common uses a computer software that translates the code being typed. This method requires a PC-compatible laptop that can be connected to a stenotype machine, in order to produce captions of the proceedings in real-time for the hearing impaired. Additionally, a digital version allows the transcript to be uploaded to the computer by an Oklahoma court reporter, translated, prepared and then sent through email to the necessary parties. This makes it an easy and seamless transaction for everyone involved.