Seven Questions: Carolyn Bratnober
This is the first monthly spotlight in a series called "Seven Questions." In it, we interview TypeWell transcribers and coordinators — each with the same seven questions. We thought it would be a great way to get to know one another in the TypeWell community. (And if we're lucky, maybe we'll finally get a perfect dinner party description of just what, specifically, TypeWell actually is!)
This month, we spotlight Carolyn Bratnober. Carolyn is a TypeWell transcriber living and working in New York City with All Hands In Motion.
1. If you had to describe your job to someone with no knowledge of TypeWell in 30 seconds or less, what would you say?
I think the most important trait for a transcriber is to be self-driven and motivated to continuously improve one's skills.
At an informal gathering I might explain it to a friend or relative like this, keeping it light: "I'm a transcriber — basically, I sit in on college classes, meetings, and speaking events and type everything up." (It's surprising how many people don't know what "transcribing" means — I've gotten a few blank stares — so I try to mention that it involves typing.)
"Someone who is deaf or hard-of-hearing or has a learning disability reads the transcript in real-time as it scrolls across their computer or iPad screen. So it's like closed captions, except I use a system called TypeWell which is 'meaning-for-meaning' so it cuts out all the 'ums' and lets me provide a clearer and more legible transcript that reflects the speaker's meaning. It's fun and challenging and fulfilling, and lets me attend lots of interesting classes and events for free!"
2. What did you study in college, or what were your favorite subjects in school?
I took lots of classes in literature, philosophy, and comparative religions. I also went to graduate school for Information and Library Science and got my Master's degree in Library Science. (I do some freelance library- and archives-related projects in my free time.)
3. What do you believe are the most important skills or traits for a TypeWell transcriber to have?
In addition to the dexterity, spelling/grammar, alertness, and close listening skills that come with training and working as a TypeWell transcriber, I think the most important trait for a transcriber is to be self-driven and motivated to continuously improve one's skills.
I would structure more time to interact with my fellow TypeWell transcribers; monthly meet-ups at a coffee shop, for example.
4. How many languages do you speak and what are they?
English, French, German, a little Spanish, and a little Greek. Plus some basic classroom ASL.
5. If you could change anything about your work, what would it be?
I would structure more time to interact with my fellow TypeWell transcribers; monthly meet-ups at a coffee shop, for example. Having a regular opportunity to ask questions and discuss things in person — plus just check in with one another — could really foster community and improvement to the service, since we could share collectively our successes and ideas.
6. What is one misconception people have about you?
In university classrooms I'm often mistaken for a student, a professor, or a translator. (Do they think we transcribe in a foreign language? I don't know but professors and students often ask me, "are you translating?")
7. What's the weirdest thing we might find on your desk or in your roller bag?
I drink a lot of coffee and go to a lot of different shops in the various areas I live and work in, so there's a stack of all those "buy 9 get the 10th free" punch-cards in my work bag. I wish there was some way to combine them all; I'd get more free coffee that way!
Thank you, Carolyn!
Carolyn's background is in research and journalism. She has worked as a fact-checker for magazine editors in Portland, Oregon and as a research assistant for university professors. She enjoys reading, bike riding, cartoon drawing, and gardening. And as much as we at TypeWell would like to toot her horn, Carolyn has been tooting her own (an alto saxophone) since she was nine years old.