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How Court Reporters Help the Deaf

April 6th, 2010

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When most people think of court reporters, they think of the quiet, fast-typing person in the corner of a courtroom, making sure that every word spoken during a court case is typed out for the record. But did you know court reporters are also on the forefront of providing much-needed services for the deaf and hard of hearing?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, court reporters are increasingly providing closed captioning and real-time translating services to the deaf and hearing-impaired community. The Bureau also makes mention of the fact that court reporting is a point of entry into closed captioning for network and cable television. This not only creates yet another opportunity for court reporters to put their skills to work outside of the courtroom, but it also involves meeting a critical need for the deaf.

Court reporters are ideally trained for providing closed captioning and real-time translating services because they are proficient in using a Stenotype machine, a device that allows court reporters to press multiple keys at once to get words typed out faster. This skill easily flows into real-time court reporting, where the Stenotype machine is connected to a computer for real-time captioning. The court reporter keys in symbols and the typed-out words instantly show up as text on a screen for those with hearing problems to read.

Closed captioning for the hearing impaired is important so that the deaf and hard of hearing have same access to news, entertainment and sports programming as those with full hearing capability. Even more importantly, the deaf will be able to read emergency broadcasts.

Court reporters can also provide personalized services to the deaf through Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART). CART reporters provide screen captions for deaf students in high school or college, as well as accompany deaf clients to business meetings, special events, doctor's appointments, and any other situation where their services might be needed to provide real-time translation.

One of the reasons court reporting jobs are projected to grow by 18 percent between 2008 and 2018 is because of the demand for CART and closed captioning services for the deaf, the Bureau asserts. As a court reporter, you are marketable inside and outside the courtroom. By choosing court reporting school, you are not only training yourself for a career that is very much in demand, but you are also training to serve a population group that strongly desires to be let in on what is happening in the hearing world.

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