The 'mission critical' mindset
Ken Deutsch has been a transcriber since 2007, working first on-site in Ohio and now remotely from his home in Sarasota, Florida. This month marks his 2-year anniversary with TypeWell as the official examiner for candidates completing the Basic Skills Course. To celebrate, we interviewed Ken about past work experience, challenges overcome, and what he loves most about providing communication access services.
What do you like about your job as a TypeWell transcriber?
Wow, what's not to like? I work primarily with college students so it's a bit like auditing classes in all subject areas such as astronomy, literature, biology, etc., without having to take the tests! Sometimes my assignments are in the corporate arena, transcribing phone calls or meetings. It's all fascinating to me. I learn so much!
Everything has to work, and I take responsibility for making it work.
I also love the fact that I'm helping people participate fully in their various environments. Many consumers have let me know that, for example, without my help, they would not have graduated from college.
I didn't really realize how important this work was until I began to get a lot of very positive feedback.
Another aspect of my TypeWell work that's wonderful is that now I can do 100 percent of it remotely from the comfort of my home office. The hourly rate is excellent, and I can use the time between assignments to ride my bike around the neighborhood, take a walk, a nap or make a cup of tea. It is truly the perfect job for me.
What particular skills do you bring to your work?
I'm a writer and I love the English language. I've written four of my own books and ghost-written or edited several others. I get a kick out of knowing the parlance of many subject areas. As a working journalist for several publications, I’m aware of sentence structure, punctuation and grammar. For some reason (perhaps 10 years of classical piano lessons?) I have the manual dexterity that is essential for building speed.
What's the toughest challenge you've overcome in your work (TypeWell or otherwise), and how did you solve it?
I love the fact that I'm helping people participate fully in their environments.
The first few days of remote work, the technology was tricky. There are various ways of obtaining audio from the students such as Skype, AIM, telephone, etc. Instant-messaging was new to me. Then there is the streaming text service that allows what I type to be seen by the consumers. However, after my first week, I was having no trouble, and in fact I now help other transcribers and supervisors at the schools work through technical issues. It just took me a few days to become comfortable with all that.
What did you do before you became a TypeWell transcriber? Has any of that prior experience proved valuable in your current work?
I was a DJ (not in the clubs, on the radio) from 1969-1976. That was not much help to this or any other job! Then I directed children’s TV for a year, which may have given me a few tips on working with people. Then I ran my own business from 1977-2005. That gave me the "mission critical" mindset. Everything has to work, and I take responsibility for making it work. I am the one that must solve any issues that come up.
What drew you to this profession?
I didn't even know this type of work existed. I had gone back to college to finish a degree I started 35 years earlier, and I was recruited into the world of TypeWell by a woman who owned a local agency that supplied transcribers. She noticed I was typing extremely fast and told me I could actually make money doing that. She introduced me to TypeWell, and I ended up working for her for two years.
When you transitioned from on-site work to remote work, was there anything that surprised you, perhaps something you didn't expect?
I’m constantly amazed by how resourceful and talented these students are.
What's your take on the future of TypeWell?
From my viewpoint, it’s quite rosy! Remote technology is improving constantly, and TypeWell is setting the standard in high schools, colleges, and even grade schools. It seems like we are finding more businesses that are interested in our services, and then there is the whole post-production market that we are only now beginning to tap. Someone has to transcribe all those YouTube videos they are using in the classrooms. It might as well be someone using TypeWell!