Remote transcribing can be fairly reliable, but it's inherently less reliable than regular on-site transcribing. This is because if one computer breaks during on-site service, the transcriber has the option of sitting next to the reader and transcribing on the other computer. With remote transcription, service may be completely interrupted when there is a hardware problem.
Here are some tips to minimize the risk of service interruption with remote services.
How to Avoid
Dead microphone battery
- Always carry spare batteries, for microphone systems that use replacable batteries.
- Develop a policy for storing the laptop after each use that includes putting the microphone into its charger, for microphones that use rechargables.
- Develop a policy of checking the charge on batteries an hour before or the day before each session.
Poor Internet connection at the lecture site
- Train the reader to switch to a hardwired ethernet connection rather than WiFi when there is radio interference.
- Have a cellular phone card in the computer that can be used when the campus wireless network is unreachable. Note this is both technically complicated and has extra cellular phone costs.
- Have a cellular phone available and train the reader to set the professor up with the cellular phone when Internet bandwidth is too low for a good Skype voice connection. Of course, this incurs additional costs for the cellular phone. Note that Skype is still needed at low bandwidth for the text transmission, so this solution is no help in case of complete internet failure.
The Transcriber misses the appointment or has no internet connection
- Have a backup transcriber available who can take over if the scheduled transcriber is unavailable.
- Have a second Skype contact for the reader to use if the reader cannot reach the scheduled transcriber.
- Contract remote services through a reputable remote service provider who staffs backup transcribers.
Hardware problem on the reader computer
- Carefully train the reader ahead of time in what to do in case of common problems like dead microphone battery.
- Have an IT person stop by at the start of the lecture to set things up.
- Train a tech-savvy audience member to help when something goes wrong.
- Give the transcriber the texting address and phone number of the reader's cell phone, so that the transcriber can text to the reader or talk to the lecturer during the initial setup.
Software problem on reader computer
- Teach the reader to restart the computer if one of the programs stops working.
- Train the transcriber in common technical problems so that the transcriber can use Skype to type directions to the Reader for other problems.
Transcriber can't hear clearly
- Make sure the lecturer wears the mic on the upper body, outside of clothing. It won't work well inside a pocket or under hair.
- Provide a lanyard (cord necklace) for easy wearing of the microphone in the proper position.