There are two types of transcripts produced by speech-to-text systems: verbatim and meaning-for-meaning.
A verbatim transcript shows word-for-word what the speaker(s) said. It may also include mention of noises such as laughter, an airplane overhead, etc.
A meaning-for-meaning transcript condenses the language used while maintaining the full meaning intended by the speaker. TypeWell meaning-for-meaning transcribers are taught to capture all spoken content in class communication access, including jokes, off-the-point comments, behavioral control, etc., but to omit false starts, repetitions and other non-meaningful speech. A TypeWell meaning-for-meaning transcript would also include mention of pertinent sounds, such as laughter or noise that disrupts the class or is noted by a speaker.
Because meaning-for-meaning transcripts express the speaker's intended message, but do so in fewer words, it is similar to what many sign language interpreters do. Thus, meaning-for-meaning services are also known as text-interpreting systems.
Here are two short transcripts, showing the two types of transcripts.
The next phase was the war on poverty between 1964 and 1974.
The war on poverty expanded the public assistance programs and had the goal of eliminating poverty in the United States.
This was the first time they were talking about poverty as the total issue, not just destitution and poor people.
The next phase of it was the war on poverty.
This period was between 1964 and 1974.
The war on poverty expanded the public assistance programs and literally had as its goal the elimination of poverty, the elimination of poverty in the United States.
And this was really the first time ever in history that they are now really talking about poverty as the total issue, focusing on poverty itself, and not just destitution and poor people.
Advantages of Meaning-for-Meaning
Some people suppose that verbatim must be superior, because it captures "more" of the information.
However, note in the example above that the meaning-for-meaning transcript conveys all the speaker's intended message and is easier to read and understand quickly.
Why do the false starts and verbal stumbles degrade the verbatim transcript, when they don't seem to affect listeners?
It's partly because the verbatim transcript is missing critical information: the speaker's timing, tone, and body language.
For example, a speaker might modify the meaning of a sentence by a facial expression, or by emphasizing one word or another. A simple verbatim transcript would not convey that added non-verbal information.
A meaning-for-meaning transcriber would add non-verbal information that modifies or enhances the spoken words.
Here's an example of the value of a meaning-for-meaning approach over a verbatim one. On the first day of class a professor says, while glaring at the students one by one, "Cheating is not a problem in MY classes." A verbatim transcript would make it seem the professor was saying "Go ahead and cheat!" While the meaning-for-meaning transcript would use the non-verbal part of the message to express the professor's intended meaning: "I won't tolerate cheating in here."
Even where no error in meaning is produced, the increased length and fractured syntax of a verbatim transcript can make it less accessible for many readers, especially at the fast reading pace required in real-time communication access. So, there's the clear advantage of meaning-for-meaning: It gives all the meaning intended by the speaker, and usually gives it in fewer words.