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Why go to conferences?

"They are worth it just for the networking opportunities," said Jodi Tobin, a staff transcriber at Ohio State University. "There are a lot of contract transcribers out there that can feel isolated, and having TypeWell conferences provides us with support and people to bounce ideas off of. They are a huge resource."

Jodi recently returned from a conference at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). It was a six hour drive for her to attend, but she felt it was justified because after returning she said, "You find out you're not alone."

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Eighteen TypeWell transcribers, interpreters, coordinators and support staff attended the July 2013 conference hosted by UTK.

At TypeWell conferences, one can learn more about disability services and accommodations, ergonomics, and the nuts and bolts of transcribing like "chunking." One of the topics that interested Jodi at UTK was the new Internal Linking feature released with TypeWell Version 7.

"Our bandwidth isn't dependable in every building on campus, so we purchased MiFi (a wireless router that acts as a WiFi hotspot) and went into some classrooms to try it out," she said. "It was nice not having to carry around two laptops. We just got an iPad Mini which is lighter on our backs and in the roller bags. The students loved linking this way and using tablets."

Jodi and her team had been thinking about holding a TypeWell conference at Ohio State when she attended the meet in Knoxville... She knew that if she could manage to get a grant, it would make such a conference more affordable.

Jodi was also very interested in a presentation there by Alternative Communication Services (ACS), a Lombard, Illinois-based company that provides remote TypeWell services to schools and businesses around the country.

"We all work on-site here at OSU and had not researched remote transcribing yet," she said. "It's something we want to explore in the near future, and they talked about the equipment needed and how to set it up."

"Also at the conference we practiced with TypeWell's math mode. We learned that if a math or science class we're transcribing is moving extremely fast or if a formula being discussed is long, we can use indicators such as ‘formula on board' and let the student copy it so that we can capture the explanation around it more easily."

Jodi was surprised to learn at the Knoxville conference that her school was one of the few that employs only staff transcribers. She believes that's a real benefit of working at a school as large as Ohio State University. OSU employs four interpreters (who are also learning C-Print) as well as three full-time TypeWell writers and one CART writer.

"We try to make everything available for the students we serve at Disability Services," she said.

Jodi and her team had been thinking about holding a TypeWell conference at Ohio State when she attended the meet in Knoxville, where she got some additional ideas on how she might set it up. She knew that if she could manage to get a grant, it would make such a conference more affordable.

"I've taken some crash courses in grant-writing, but I have no experience with it," she said. "The university encourages us to do more professional development and a grant would mean we could charge a lesser fee for our conference. My supervisor, Claudia Kinder, is great and she is helping me."

What would Jodi want to see covered at any future conference she attends?

"There have been conferences I've not been able to attend, but I've read the transcripts afterward," Jodi said. "I wish they had been Webcast."

"I am interested in increasing memory and working with lag time while transcribing," she said. "I'd also like to see more on ergonomics. Transcribers can injure themselves if they don't have the right equipment and posture. And of course more on TypeWell V7, which I love! It has more abbreviations, more proper names and the months of the year are more standardized."

And Jodi wondered if future conferences might be streamed online as a Webcast for those unable to attend, an idea she is discussing with TypeWell's Director, Kate Ervin.

"There have been conferences I've not been able to attend, but I've read the transcripts afterward," Jodi said. "I wish they had been Webcast."

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Ken Deutsch

Ken writes articles for several publications including Radio World, Film Fax, and Goldmine. He's been a TypeWell transcriber since 2007.

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