What Is Speech Transcription?

Angela Farrer

Speech transcription is the process of transferring spoken words to a typed or written format. A transcript is not a summary or a rewrite with different wording, as it needs to replicate each word precisely as the speaker originally said it. Industries such as medicine use speech transcription to ensure accurate records of various procedures and tasks. Transcription services can be especially beneficial when daily work duties and meetings have great amounts of detail. Some speech transcribers may work as part of the staff at a hospital or another type of company, while others may work for an independent speech transcription business that provides this service to various clients.

A stenographer is responsible for transcribing courtroom dialogue.
A stenographer is responsible for transcribing courtroom dialogue.

Medical speech transcription is a field that helps ensure accurate patient records and treatment plans. Doctors with busy schedules and large numbers of patients normally have minimal time to write down information such as the details of a diagnosis and the medication prescribed. Speech transcription software is a convenient alternative that renders text documents out of notes that a doctor speaks into a recorder or a microphone connected to a computer. Some physicians may instead employ a medical transcriber to create documents out of these recorded audio notes.

Computer programs have the ability to transcribe spoken words to written text.
Computer programs have the ability to transcribe spoken words to written text.

Various businesses also use speech transcription for preparing documents and recording the details of important meetings. Some attorneys dictate drafts of legal briefs into a speech recognition program, although this practice is not to be confused with court reporting, in which a stenographer records proceedings with a shorthand system. Companies that regularly record the minutes of meetings often use this type of dictation to ensure accuracy before the minutes are distributed to the employees involved.

Many professionals find that using a speech transcription company is more cost-effective than employing an in-house transcriber. These types of dictation businesses usually employ experienced transcribers who often have backgrounds in copy editing or similar fields. Some transcribers may also work as independent contractors as well.

Speech transcription equipment can be as simple as a tape recorder, notebook, and pen. A transcriber can also type out the words of an audio recording with a typewriter or word processing program. These methods of transcribing by hand are normally less common due to advances in speech recognition technology. Speech dictation programs installed on a desktop or laptop computer can create accurate transcripts of spoken dictation at a faster rate than the average person's typing speed, and this type of software is often considered the standard for efficient transcription. Many of these speech recognition programs also have features that render text from audio files captured on a portable voice recorder.

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