In 2005 I decided at the age of 54 to go back to college to finish a degree I began in 1969 and never completed. While I was on campus at the University of Toledo amongst the mostly younger students (and even some younger professors), I was recruited by a woman who saw me typing on a laptop in one of my classes. She had a small company that hired on-site transcribers and thought I might be a good candidate. Having recently sold a recording studio business I owned for 24 years, I was casting about for something else to do with my life when I finished my B.A. and I thought transcribing would suit me. I finally got my degree, although our graduation ceremony was canceled due to a freak snowstorm.
In 2006 the woman I met sponsored me through the TypeWell training program and then put me to work for her running all over campus, sometimes through deep snow. There were some challenges, like finding a parking space four or five times a day on different parts of the UT campus, hauling equipment around, setting it up and breaking it down multiple times a day, sometimes with only ten minutes between transcribing assignments. Occasionally I was sent to various Toledo corporations to transcribe meetings for deaf employees, which I enjoyed. I had a purpose, a sense of mission, and earned $20/hour! I was quite happy. My career for the next 14 years was set: I would be a TypeWell transcriber.
After being an on-site transcriber for a few years I heard about Alternative Communication Services, at that time a very new company that hired transcribers to work remotely. They offered me twice as much money per hour, and the opportunity to work from home. Zero daily travel. No snowbanks. I didn’t have to think about the offer very long before accepting and I continued to work for ACS for the next 11 years. During my tenure, the company grew from just a handful of employees to a massive decentralized organization with a national reputation for quality. I was proud to be a part of it. In 2011 my wife and I moved from Ohio to Florida, and of course, my job was very portable!
In early 2020 at age 68, I decided to retire from day-to-day transcribing. There were several reasons but the biggest factor was my loss of enthusiasm. When I started in 2006, I was eager to get started each day. I got a lot of positive feedback from my clients, some of whom I worked with over their entire college careers. Through no one’s fault, over the years the job became less personal. There were so many transcribers that there didn’t seem to be a personal relationship with the students or corporate employees anymore. The meaning-for-meaning captioning industry grew swiftly partly through people learning self-advocacy, and partly due to the whole “inclusive” movement that has swept the country since 2000. Colleges got more comfortable with providing access to students, whereas, at the beginning of my TypeWell career, many of them were still fighting the process.
Another reason for retiring is that as I aged, I began to lose some of my physical stamina, which is natural. My downtime became more important to me than money. My wife will be retiring shortly and we would like to do a little traveling around Florida.
ACS was a wonderful company to work with and I would recommend them to any transcriber who would like to work remotely.
I’ll continue to work with the TypeWell organization as I have for years now as one of the folks who administer the Comprehensive Skill Checks to newbie transcribers, so I’ll still have a hand in this world. – Ken Deutsch
Finally, let me say that anyone who is a transcriber or who wants to be one, is encouraged to reach out to me with any questions about the career. I’m always happy to help. Continued success to you!
You can reach Ken at KenRDeutsch [at] gmail.com.