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Archive for Wednesday, January 8, 1992

STENOGRAPHER TAPS INTO NOVEL IDEA

January 8, 1992

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Last year, as Gov. Joan Finney presented her annual State of the State Address to the Kansas Legislature, the speech was simultaneously translated in sign language for the deaf or hearing-impaired.

That gave Candy Braksick, a Jefferson County free-lance stenographer, an idea: Why not have a stenographer transcribe the speech so the hearing-impaired can simultaneously read it on their television sets?

Braksick, who won fame as the fastest stenographer in the country in 1990, worked out the details with the Kansas Court Reporters Assn.

So at 11 a.m. Tuesday, when Finney delivers her annual address, Braksick will use her Stenograph Smartwriter machine and a lap-top computer to transcribe the governor's address "in real time."

"Whatever I write will come across the cable to the screen," Braksick said today. "It's basically the same technology they use for the closed caption on television."

BRAKSICK, WHO lives between Oskaloosa and McLouth, won the 1990 National Shorthand Reporters Assn. Speed Contest in San Diego. In 1991, she placed second.

She said her transcription not only will help the hearing-impaired, it will help the Kansas Court Reporters Assn. demonstrate the latest in court reporting technology.

"It's kind of showing them some of the technology that's available and it's a service to the hearing-impaired," Braksick said.

The "real-time" transcription will be broadcast on WIBW-TV, Channel 13 in Topeka, said Bradley R. Sherffius, president of the Kansas Court Reporters Assn.

"IT SHOWS to the general public the capability that a live court reporter has to use this type of technology to help the hearing-impaired," Sherffius said. "And the live court reporter is the only type of reporting method that can provide this service."

In "real-time" court reporting, there is about a one-second delay from the time the words are spoken and the time they appear on the screen. During that time, the court reporter has typed the words on a stenograph machine and a computer has translated the steno language into English.

"It's used mostly in criminal cases where you have a deaf defendant," Sherffius said, explaining that it enables a deaf defendant to read what his accuser is saying.

"I'VE SEEN it used at conventions and seminars," he said. The National Captioning Institute provides the same service for closed captioning on news programs, he said.

Braksick said computer integrated equipment has been installed in a federal courtroom in Wichita, allowing attorneys and the judge to see testimony on computer screens as it is transcribed. Also, she said, the technology allows reporters to provide transcriptions the same day as the testimony.

Braksick has been a stenographer for 18 years. An Oskaloosa High School graduate, she graduated from Clark's School of Business in Topeka in 1973.

SHE THEN went to work for a free-lance court reporting agency in Topeka. In 1986 struck out on her own, free-lancing mainly in the Lawrence and Topeka areas.

Along with court reporting, she provides transcripts for conventions, group meetings, city and county government meetings and other occasions.

Most of her free-lance work is done in attorneys offices taking depositions, she said.

In the national contest, which is a combination of speed and accuracy, she has transcribed 280 words per minute.

Sherffius said normal conversation ranges between 180 to 200 words per minute.

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