The stenocaptioning speed test

Friday, 9 August 2013 15:12pm

An American captioner is competing to become the world’s fastest court reporter. The Guinness World Record attempt is part of this year’s National Association of Court Reporters (NACR) convention.

As reported by the North West Indiana Times, Kathy Cortopassi runs a captioning studio in Crown Point, Indiana. She can transcribe at a rate of over 300 words per minute with 99.8 per cent accuracy.

The current Guinness World Record for stenotype writing was set at the NACR convention in 2004 by Mark Kislingbury. On the day, Kislingbury achieved 360 words per minute with 97 per cent accuracy.

Prior to the development of speech recognition technology, the captioning of live television programs and events could only be performed by captioners using stenotype machines (hence the term ‘stenocaptioner’). In Australia and overseas, many stenocaptioners have a court reporting background, and despite the increasing use of speech recognition, they still play a vital role in captioning.  

The National Speed Test was first held in 1909 at the NACR’s first convention. Back then, competitors wrote in shorthand using pens. Then, court reporters could only achieve a speed of 220 words per minute. Stenotype writers first competed in 1914, wowing the veteran pen writers, who were suspicious of the new technology, with speeds of 280 words per minute.

50 stenographers are competing at today’s event, attended by 2000 guests.


Top of page