It is often necessary to have more than one service provider available during long and/or intense classes and meetings:
- to ensure the effectiveness and accuracy of the transcript, and
- to protect the physical health of the transcriber.
TypeWell recommends using 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. Teams usually include two transcribers, although "one transcriber + one interpreter" teams are sometimes used when needs so dictate.
TypeWell teaming is very similar to the teaming done by sign language interpreters. That is, two transcribers are in the room together for the whole class/meeting, switching back and forth every 15-20 minutes or so between actively transcribing and then resting (while supporting the active transcriber).
The positive aspects of traditional teaming are:
- Both transcribers have knowledge of the whole lecture, to help their understanding of content.
- Breaks away from "the hot seat" increase the transcribers' accuracy over the whole time.
- Breaks from typing reduce physical strain on the hands and body.
- Having a second person to 'feed' missed points to the transcriber on the "hot seat" increases accuracy and completeness of the transcript.
- The two teaming transcribers can either share the same equipment or use separate equipment.
In the shared equipment mode, both transcribers use the same computer to transcribe. They switch chairs at the change of transcriber, so the new transcriber uses the same computer and the same steno table. Or, even better, if each transcriber has his or her own steno-table, the teamers carefully hand the transcriber computer back and forth between turns.
Each transcriber can type his or her name at the start of a new turn, to inform the reader a transcriber change has been made.
The positive aspects of this shared equipment mode are:
- Only one transcriber computer needs to be set up.
- The whole transcript is complete in one file.
The negative aspects are:
- If the transcribers have to switch seats between turns, it can be disruptive to those around the transcribers, especially if the shared steno table or chair must be adjusted to accommodate the two people (e.g., when a tall person and a short person are teaming, the table height might have to be changed each time to optimize comfort for both).
- One transcriber may have to use a computer with which he or she is not familiar.
In the separate equipment mode, each transcriber has his or her own computer, linked wirelessly to each other and to the readers' computer(s). When the time comes to switch from one transcriber to the other, the new transcriber just types his/her name to inform the reader of the change and then picks up the transcribing work without changing seats.
The reader's computer can be constantly linked to both transcribers, and both transcribers' computers can be linked to each other.
When 3-way linking is set up, the reader sees the full class transcript as one continuous incoming document, despite the fact the transcript is coming from two different transcriber computers.
The positive aspects of the separate equipment mode are:
- Each transcriber can use the computer with which he or she is familiar.
- There is no switching of chairs or computers which could disrupt the class.
- There is no need for readjustments to the steno table or chair position.
The negative aspects of the separate equipment mode are:
- To provide notes after class to the reader, either the transcript on the reader computer must be copied from the top TypeWell window on the reader's computer, pasted into the bottom window, and then saved.
- OR, the two transcripts on each transcriber's computer (one on each computer's main screen) must be combined by one of the transcribers, in order to have all the class content in one file. This can be done by having one 'lead' transcriber copy the other transcriber's work from the incoming top window and paste it into the lead's 'master transcript in the bottom window'; or, by copying the full transcript from the top window on the reader machine, into the bottom window, and then saving the file.
Note about Sequential Scheduling
Sequential Scheduling was previously called sequential teaming. In the past, we used the term Sequential Teaming to refer to the practice of having one transcriber work alone for the first half of class/meeting and then having a second transcriber come in and take over, as the first transcriber leaves. That model of service provision is not true teaming and is more accurately referred to as sequential scheduling.
The positive aspects of sequential scheduling are:
- It can make providing full coverage of a class possible when personnel for traditional teaming for a long or difficult class are not available.
- There are reduced immediate costs when only one transcriber is 'on the clock' at a time.
Despite the two positive aspects of sequential scheduling, there are considerable negative aspects:
- The second transcriber does not have the benefit of the background info from the first part of class, making quick understanding of content more difficult, and hurting the quality of service to the deaf reader.
- The physical switch of personnel can be disruptive to the class.
- Even half of a long, dense class can be mentally and physically demanding on one transcriber. Accumulative effects of resulting stress can lead to sick leave or worse, which can be costly to the transcriber's health, and the overall service budget.
Teaming from the Consumer's Viewpoint
As with teaming of interpreters, some care must be taken to choose transcribers with similar styles to be on a team. Deaf consumers report that vastly different styles and abilities between interpreters or transcribers on a team can be disconcerting to the reader, and make quick comprehension of read content difficult. Input from deaf consumers regarding this issue is helpful in guiding scheduling decisions.
Different sites have different teaming protocols, such as how long a transcriber will type before switching off; how to signal that it's time for a change of transcriber; how the non-typing transcriber is supposed to feed info to the one on the "hot seat", etc. The service coordinator should teach new transcribers the teaming protocols to be used at a particular site. A meeting should be scheduled with all team members before the first teaming assignment to discuss and practice the whole process, and thus avoid confusion later.