This page is not here to persuade you to choose TypeWell.
It's here to help you choose the right service to provide communication access for your needs, whatever that may be.
You can jump directly to the cost comparison if that's your main interest.
Note: The term 'student' will be used here to refer to all potential readers, including people attending classes, meetings, social events, religious services, etc.
Is Speech-to-Text the Right Service?
First, decide whether any sort of speech-to-text solution is appropriate for your situation; or if sign language interpreting, cued speech, traditional notetakers, or auditory amplification systems alone would be a better fit for the situation.
Speech-to-text services are good options in classes or meetings where:
- access to the English grammar spoken in the class or meeting is desired; and/or,
- more than fleeting exposure to the spelling of new vocabulary is desired; and/or,
- the student is comfortable reading text for communication access; and/or,
- the student does not sign well.
Speech-to-text systems are usually not appropriate if:
- the student reads at lower than 4th grade reading level; or
- the student is not willing to try a new service for a trial period (in cases where the student has not used speech-to-text before); or
- the class time involves extensive moving from place to place, such as physical education.
Choose a Speech-to-Text Approach
[Note: Some links below will take you away from this TypeWell website. If you follow such a link, use the Back button on your browser to return to this page.]
If you've decided that speech-to-text services might be right for you, now you must choose from several kinds of speech-to-text solutions, such as:
- TypeWell or other meaning-for-meaning systems;
- Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART, also called realtime stenography);
- Voicewriting (based on automatic speech recognition), which has two subtypes:
- Professional voicewriters, where the operator has taken courses in speech-to-text voicewriting, practiced for months or years, and has possibly been certified at a performance and accuracy level.
- Casual voicewriters, such as a teacher in a classroom whose speech goes directly to the computer, or an employee in the department who tries off-the-shelf speech recognition software for a few weeks.
Of these three, TypeWell requires the least training (as little as 40 hours), is operable by the largest pool of potential transcribers, and produces the highest quality output where meaning-for-meaning transcripts are desired.
CART (also known as stenotype) requires the most training (2-5 years), is operable only by a relatively small pool of careerist writers, and produces the highest quality output where verbatim transcripts are desired.
Professional voicewriting requires a significant amount of training (1-2 years), is operable only by a relatively small pool of careerist writers, and can produce output the same as the quality of CART.
Casual voicewriting (see voicewriting link above) is not a viable service option because the quality is not high enough for communication access. It is listed here for comparison's sake.
Casual voicewriting requires little training (about 60 hours to reach the "moderately experienced desktop dictation" level), and is operable by a medium-sized subset of people with the right voice and temperament.
Unfortunately although the amount of training is similar to that of TypeWell, the high error rate makes this potential service type unacceptable for communication access.
It's important to check the training level of the service provider for any speech-to-text service, but is absolutely crucial for verbatim services like CART and voicewriting.
Because demand is so high and the training so difficult, sites might be tempted to hire people still in training, or training dropouts.
It takes years of intense training to become good at stenotyping. Someone only partially trained is likely not able to provide adequate service.
You wouldn't hire an interpreter with no credentials, and it's wise not to do so with speech-to-text providers, either.
Here are the costs of using the different types of speech-to-text services.
(Remote services are discussed below):
|Total start-up cost:
|Hourly salary range:
||($15 to $40)
||($45 to $125)
||($40 to $110)
|For calculations below:
(Adjust for your region)
|Weekly salary (for 15 hours):
|Semester salary (15 weeks):
|(Non-start-up) Yearly cost:
(Start-up + yearly cost)
The above calculation is a fair comparison for many locations in the U.S.
However, rates in different locations vary widely!
Please calculate for yourself using prices and desired hours of service for your location.
However, no matter where you are located you'll find that when figured over a full year, TypeWell costs are a fraction of the alternatives'.
Be sure to check if contracted services included travel time, mileage, or 3-hour minimum charges.
These charges are common for CART in some areas and can double the weekly cost.
In the chart above, it's easy to see that the bottom line price is primarily controlled by the hourly rate for the services.
People often ask why CART prices are so much higher.
It's because the task of producing verbatim transcripts is extremely difficult and takes years of training.
They must charge more to recoup their high training and equipment costs.
Also, competition with places like courtrooms, where verbatim is legally required, drives prices up for non-courtroom uses where verbatim is not necessary.
Choose a Meaning-for-Meaning Approach
If you've decided that a meaning-for-meaning type of speech-to-text solution is right for you, then you need to pick a specific system.
Here are some reasons that TypeWell is the best choice:
To train, or not to train? That is the question.
If you've decided to use TypeWell, there's one more decision left: should you recruit and train your own transcriber, or should you contract with an already-trained service provider?
One of the most important points to consider is the number of hours of support services you want to provide in any given week.
If you need more than two hours a week of services, and a meaning-for-meaning system fits your needs, you should seriously consider recruiting and matriculating your own TypeWell transcriber. That would give you the best combination of control and cost effectiveness.
This option isn't feasible for the other speech-to-text services due to their longer training times and inability to screen candidates ahead of time to determine who is likely to succeed with the system.
If you need fewer than two hours a week of services, it may not be cost effective to train your own transcriber.
In that case check availability of contract providers in your area, or contact us for information about TypeWell providers in your area.
If you've decided to use a speech-to-text service, but you cannot find a local provider and you need fewer than two hours a week of services, then you should consider remote services.
These systems have somewhat reduced reliability, have somewhat lower quality of service, and can be quite a bit more expensive, but they're sometimes the best solution for a situation.
Here's how a typical remote service works.
The service provider is located elsewhere, often in another state, and is connected to the classroom by phone line or internet.
A microphone in the room picks up the speaker's speech, which is transmitted to the provider.
The provider transcribes it, and the words are sent back for displayed on a computer at the student's desk.
Any of the above speech-to-text systems can be used as a remote service; it depends on what the particular provider you contract with uses.
The advantage of a remote service is that it is able to provide serve in locations that don't have a local provider.
The disadvantages of remote services are:
- Requires phone or internet or both be available within the classroom or meeting room.
- Often the transcriber can't hear student comments through the microphone, which is usually being worn by the main speaker.
As a result remote services are less suitable for classes or meetings with much group discussion.
- Some providers don't provide a means for the transcriber to voice comments to the class for the student.
- Set-up at the start of the class or meeting is complicated, usually with several boxes and connections that need to be made.
This complication means a technical person must be available at the start and end of each supported meeting.
Sometimes the person receiving the service is technically advanced enough to do this for himself or herself.
- The many different pieces of technology result in more chance of something going wrong.
Failures that occur frequently are: batteries not charged for microphone; internet dropouts; remote provider misses appointment; phone disconnect; student computer powers down mid-class.
In total you can expect to have more downtime and missed service with this type of solution.