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Typewell - Support Center

Admin FAQ

Last Updated: Jun 26, 2018 06:15PM MST

This page is for those with questions about setting up and providing TypeWell services, such as program administrators, DSS coordinators, or other supervisors. The points covered here are:


Who can benefit from TypeWell transcription services?

Most deaf and hard of hearing students in mainstream middle-school to graduate level classes benefit greatly from the communication access and notes provided by the TypeWell transcription system. Also, people in work settings, job training settings, and social or religious settings benefit from the immediate communication access available with TypeWell. Students and other readers should have reading skills at least at a 4th grade level.

Individuals who know little or no sign language are particularly benefited by this textual form of access. Also, many people who use sign language, even strong ASL-users, often prefer to have transcription services for access in some classes and meetings because of the "frozen" nature of text, which allows rereading and review. Such readers often cite a desire for permanent presentation of new vocabulary, and exposure to mainstream English, as reasons for preferring to have text-based access.

Other people can also benefit from speech-to-text services. Anyone who has difficulty following the communication during classes or meetings, or who has trouble taking notes for himself or herself is a potential user. Thus, individuals who have visual problems, learning difficulties, or are physically challenged are good candidates for TypeWell services. For visually impaired students, the font on the computer display can be greatly enlarged, or the text sent to a refreshable Braille-writer. Notes for study can be produced in Braille (using appropriate software available separately).

Students in 5th or 6th grade and above typically have the note-use skills, or are developing these skills, to make full use of both aspects of the system — the communication access during class, and the notes after class. Students younger than this, with the appropriate reading level, typically benefit from the communication access more than from the notes.

In what kinds of classes and meetings do TypeWell services work best?

Classes and meetings in which one person talks a lot, such as lecture classes, are ideal for transcription services. Classes and meetings with a lot of discussion are also candidates if the transcriber can sit where he or she can easily hear everyone speaking, and if everyone is encouraged to speak clearly and individually.

Math and science classes are often not good candidates for TypeWell services by first-year transcribers. Such technical classes often require additional materials, such as diagrams, special symbols and extensive formulas, which are best transcribed by experienced transcribers using the advanced math techniques in Version 7 of TypeWell.

Law and medical classes, which often require that the verbatim wording of information be available to students, may be inappropriate for TypeWell. In all cases, only experienced transcribers, who know the subject matter to some degree, should be assigned to such classes.

Classes and meetings with presenters who speak very quickly, and/or whose lectures are very dense with technical information, can be very challenging to a transcriber. Only experienced transcribers should be assigned to transcribe such classes. It is often also necessary to provide prep time for the transcriber to become familiar with topics that will be discussed.

TypeWell is an English-based system, and thus is not ideal for use in foreign language classes. Some sites do use TypeWell in foreign language classes, but the transcriber must know the foreign language well enough to translate it into English and transcribe it rapidly, or have someone translate for him/her in real-time. The student and instructor must also agree and accept that the course content will not be presented in the foreign language by the TypeWell transcriber, but in English.

What will instructors and presenters have to do to support the transcription service?

Instructors and presenters don't have to change anything about their presentation methods to accommodate transcriptions services. Any accommodations they are already making for a deaf or hard of hearing person in a class or meeting will benefit the transcriber as well. (These include such accommodations as not talking while facing the board, speaking clearly, etc.)

Instructors and presenters do have to allow the transcriber to sit where he or she can hear the main speaker and others clearly, and instructors and presenters should not show any lack of support for the service. It is very helpful if the instructor or presenter gives the transcriber a copy of readings and any handouts for the class or meeting. The transcriber uses these materials to prepare for the transcribing assignment.

The instructors/presenters also need to ask all the participants in the class or meeting to speak loudly and clearly. It is often necessary for the instructor/presenter to repeat what a person says so everyone can hear and understand it. This repetition helps the transcriber and all the participants.

Instructors should be asked to look over the transcribed notes at least occasionally, to verify that the content of the information is accurate. This is especially important in technical classes.

Other than these few things, instructors and presenters can just enjoy having their classes and presentations transcribed. Some of the benefits for an instructor include having a record of what was presented, having a resource to give students who missed a class, having a ready way to tell a substitute instructor what was covered the day(s) before, and having another tool to help any and all students with special needs to learn the material presented.

Are there differences between transcription services provided in pre-college and college settings?

Yes, there can be differences in the transcription services provided in these two settings. Many college students don't need extensive editing of the notes produced in the real-time transcription. Usually the college transcriber needs only to correct any spelling errors and highlight homework assignments. Thus, the schedule for a college transcriber may not have to include as much time for editing as does the schedule of a junior high or high school transcriber.

On the other hand, many younger students are helped by having more streamlined notes to study after class and the transcriber needs time scheduled to make the notes educationally useful. We recommend an average of a half hour of editing time for each hour in class; however, this is only a guideline, not a rule. Editing time should be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. Beginning transcribers, and those in particularly heavy-content classes, may need more time for editing.

A second difference in transcribing between pre-college and college settings is the density of information usually conveyed in class. The rate and amount of information presented in college classes tends to be very high. This can, of course, be true in some pre-college classes, too, but it is definitely very common in college classes. The greater the density of information presented by the instructor, the less downtime the transcriber has during class. Because downtime is desirable to avoid physical stress due to the repetitive motion of typing, as well as the mental fatigue of active listening, care should be taken to schedule breaks for transcribers in intense classes, either by having breaks between classes, or by having a team of transcribers sharing any long, intense classes.

A third difference between pre-college and college settings is that the education of pre-college students with disabilities is covered by a detailed federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, commonly known as IDEA. Any deaf or hard-of-hearing student who is not obtaining equal communication access to the information being presented in class - by instructors and peers - is a candidate for transcription services. The 2004 re-authorization of IDEA specifically names TypeWell as a support service which should be considered for deaf and hard of hearing students. Thus, students who are missing information because of the inherent difficulty of speech reading, and reduced auditory information despite hearing aids and FM equipment, should be considered as candidates for TypeWell services.

One requirement of the IDEA is that an Individual Education Plan (IEP) be written for each disabled student in pre-college programs. Thus, once it is determined that transcription services are appropriate for a specific 5-12 grade student, an IEP goal reflecting this need has to be written. Each district has its own format for IEP goals. These are some of the ways instructors have written IEP goals related to transcription services:

"(Student) will increase the information obtained during class by reading a computer-displayed transcription of what is said by the instructor and students."

"(Student) will increase the amount of information learned by studying detailed class notes produced from a transcription of class communication."

Other systems?

TypeWell is an ideal tool for providing communication access and notes to a great majority of students and others. There are other communication access systems, however, including sign language interpreting, oral transliteration, and CART. If you have decided that a speech-to-text approach may be right for a particular student, here is a discussion about choosing between different types of speech-to-text solutions:

Choosing a speech-to-text approach

What does the Law say about speech-to-text services?

Both the United States and Canada have federal laws that relate to communication access and speech-to-text services. In the States, these include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). For more information, see Laws pertaining to communication access.

What's involved in setting up a TypeWell service program?

There are 3 basic parts to a transcription support service program: the transcriber, the equipment and software, and a trained site service coordinator.

1) The TypeWell Transcriber

There are 3 sources of transcribers: a) recruit and put your own through the transcribing course, b) hire an already-trained transcriber, c) contract with an already-trained independent contractor, or a free-lance agency that provides transcriber(s).

Recruiting and educating your own transcriber: For information about recruiting a person to become a transcriber, see the student requirements and recruiting pages. TypeWell transcribing is learned through a fully remote distance-learning course.

The pay rate for a beginning transcriber has traditionally been similar to that received by a beginning interpreter in a given geographic area. In our experience, this has averaged around $15 to $40 per hour, depending on the cost of living and level of experience, with hourly rates as high as $50 per hour in areas of high demand. Lower hourly salaries often include benefits.

Experienced transcribers are valuable service providers whom employers do not want to lose to other jobs. Adequate pay and good working conditions help to promote job satisfaction and job retention.

Contracting with an already-trained TypeWell transcriber: If you are interested in contracting with an agency or freelancer, please consult our list of questions to ask when contracting with a remote provider. To find out if there are qualified individuals (freelance transcribers) in your area, please contact us so we can search our internal database. You can also find agencies and individual freelancers by visiting the online directories maintained by our nonprofit professional organization: Association of Transcribers and Speech-to-text Providers (ATSP).

Be sure to verify that all job candidates have successfully completed the TypeWell transcribing course. Only individuals who have successfully completed a TypeWell transcribing course can use TypeWell software to provide communication access services to consumers.

How do I know if a transcriber is qualified?

2) Equipment and software

The equipment needed to provide TypeWell support services includes at least one notebook computer (for the transcriber), a display device for the student or staff to read the transcription (usually a second computer), and some way to connect the transcriber's computer and the student's display. We recommend the use of a steno-table and roller bag, too. TypeWell's unique software includes all the program capabilities needed for providing transcription services: the abbreviation system, a word processor, and TypeWell software to link the two computers.

Equipment requirements

Linking transcribers and readers

3) A trained site service coordinator

The smooth running of any support service program requires a coordinator who is knowledgeable about the specific services provided, knows the students or other consumers who will use the service, and is responsible for scheduling and supporting the transcribers. Interpreter supervisors, support service coordinators, special education teachers and resource room teachers generally make excellent site service coordinators.

We provide detailed information about overseeing a smooth-running program of TypeWell services here on this support site. (See Best Practices for coordinating TypeWell services.)

The coordinator is usually responsible for:

  • Mentoring the transcriber, especially during the first month or so of in-class transcribing to support the transition of skills from the transcribing course to actual provision of communication access services. We offer Skill Consultations if remote mentoring is needed.

  • Supporting good ergonomic practices, including the purchase of appropriate equipment (such as the portable table and roller bag).

  • Ensuring good scheduling practices. A transcriber should not type for more than an hour without some rest, nor more than 3 or 4 hours in a single day. Back-to-back classes should be avoided when possible. Most high school classes have natural typing breaks, such as when the students read silently or do seat work. College classes are often more intense, and rest breaks must be worked in, often creatively. Teaming is often the best alternative.

  • Arranging for adequate editing and note distribution time and equipment, such as a school email account or printer.

  • Acting as a liaison between the transcriber and the classroom instructors, the student(s) or the parents as needed, to ensure a smooth delivery of service.

  • Supporting the transcriber as needed, to build job satisfaction


What are the overall costs in starting and running your own TypeWell service program?

To start up your own TypeWell services program from scratch, your costs will include the transcribing course (see the Pricing section), one or two laptop computers (each costing between $700 and $1200), steno table ($120) and roller bag (about $70), TypeWell software for the classroom (software Pricing section). In addition to these start-up costs, the transcriber's salary will be a recurring cost.

Here is a cost calculator to help you develop an accurate budget for start-up and recurring annual costs. The calculator includes the cost of training, equipment, salary, and employee-related expenses.


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