The work of a transcriber is very similar to the work of an interpreter, both mentally and physically. The arms, hands, and head are always working, and effectiveness and accuracy are known to decrease substantially after an hour of intense work.
Thus, ergonomics experts suggest that transcribers be scheduled in accordance with the same scheduling guidelines that are recommended for interpreters. We've summarized those recommended scheduling guidelines below.
Detailed guidelines about scheduling of support service providers are available from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). (See RID's Standard Practice Paper on team interpreting.)
The information below is not offered as medical advice. Check with qualified medical professionals for guidance.
- Provide for a significant break (at least 15 minutes) for every 70 minutes of transcribing.
- Use a team of 2 transcribers for classes/meetings that are longer than 70 minutes, or those that will have particularly heavy or fast information content. To judge relative difficulty of an assignment, and the possible need for teaming, consider the length of the class/meeting; the amount of talking time versus quiet work; the density and difficulty of info; the presentation format (e.g., straight lecture, group work, etc.); student needs and preferences; etc.
- Avoid back-to-back classes/meetings. If at least one class/meeting is light in content, and the other meeting is no more than medium heavy in content, back-to-back classes could be scheduled. However, the health of the transcriber must be regularly monitored, and changes made as needed.
In pre-college settings, there are often long natural breaks during classes (e.g., during seat work). Thus, a transcriber could work a pair of back-to-back classes in such situations. However, a significant break, with no assigned jobs should be provided after two hours.
- If after-class transcripts are to be polished, allow a minimum of 15 minutes for cursory polishing for each hour of class. More detailed polishing and editing of notes from dense classes may require more time.
- Provide paid prep time for review of materials for particularly difficult courses or ones in which the transcriber has no background knowledge. Prep time is used to review texts and become familiar with new vocabulary.
Note: The large TypeWell dictionary already includes so many words (4+ million words) that a TypeWell transcriber does not have to make many entries to his or her transcribing dictionary, but familiarity with the spelling of new vocabulary words is necessary.