A transcription pedal is a device used for hands-free control of audio and video playback by transcriptionists. It allows the operator to start, stop, or pause a recording. Using the pedal, recordings may also be forwarded or reversed while preparing a transcription. All of these operations are controlled by the foot, leaving the hands free for typing and corrections in a document. The transcription pedal can be sold as a standalone item for people setting up their own transcription systems, or as part of a complete package that may include associated software and other related products.
Many are designed for computer transcription and plug into hubs on the computer tower. Others can be used with playback devices, including products specifically intended for transcription. The transcription pedal is usually designed with intuitive controls to make it easy to operate, and the learning curve is relatively short. Some allow operators to program in custom settings for specialized transcription needs, while others have defaults that cannot be changed.
Advanced models can do things like separating out audio channels, which can be convenient for some transcriptions. For example, a transcriptionist handling a two channel audio sample of a police interrogator and a suspect could listen to one channel at a time by switching the transcription pedal, preparing a detailed and accurate transcript of first one person, and then the other. Isolating channels can also be useful if there’s a lot of background noise on one channel that makes it hard to focus.
Foot pedals can be extremely valuable tools for transcription. If the transcriptionist has to control playback by hand, this adds considerable time to the overall work required to prepare a transcript. During the course of preparing a transcript, people may stop and start the recording repeatedly, and also need to rewind to catch complicated or mumbled words. Transcription pedals offer a very rapid way to do this and can reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries caused by moving between controls and the keyboard over and over again while working.
The best choice of transcription pedal can depend on the system someone uses and the type of materials most commonly worked with. It can help to look at reviews for several products, with full coverage of their features, to get a better understanding of what is available and how it can be used. Some companies may offer generous return policies to allow customers to try their products for several days or weeks before making a full commitment.