Speech-To-Text Services (STTS)

Saad Ghani discusses his experience using CART. Read full video description


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There are two types of STTS:

  • Verbatim: Nearly every word that is spoken is transcribed into text, including false starts or misspeaks and speaker repetition. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is the system used to provide verbatim transcription services.

  • Meaning-for-Meaning: This type of system conveys the intended meaning in fewer words and formatted more visually, such as eliminating false starts, misspeaks, or repetition. C-Print and TypeWell are two systems that provide meaning-for-meaning transcription.

There are many applications for this type of accommodation. Choosing the most appropriate STTS system will depend on the deaf individual’s communication preferences, learning goals, and environment. To learn more about which STTS system would be the most appropriate fit, ask the deaf person about their experience and preferences. There is no “best” system for all situations and for all people.


STTS Provider Accuracy

The STTS industry has standards for qualified professionals that meet minimum words-per-minute and accuracy requirements. These can be used to continuously evaluate the quality of captions from a provider:

  • The minimum standard for a CART provider is 180 words per minute (wpm) with 96% accuracy, as measured by the word error rate. The word error rate = (the number of substitutions + deletions + insertions) ÷ the total number of words spoken.

  • The minimum standard for a C-Print or TypeWell provider is a minimum of 60 wpm with 96% accuracy. Accuracy can be assessed in real-time by observing the captioning produced by a service provider during an assignment.

Deaf students should be included in the ongoing evaluation of their service providers. For examples of student evaluations for STTS providers, review the following resources:

STTS Equipment and Training

  • CART providers use a stenotype machine with a phonetic keyboard and specialized software. This is usually provided by the CART provider. Training consists of two or four year associate or bachelor’s degree programs and advanced certification.

  • Meaning for meaning providers use laptops with C-Print or Typewell software installed. Some schools will provide the employee with a laptop and other hardware needed. Training consists of two to three months of online training from either C-Print/RIT or Typewell, Inc. 


STTS Provider Consistency

Hire consistent STTS providers for ongoing needs to ensure effective communication. 

A consistent STTS becomes more familiar with the content being communicated in the setting, allowing them to build their STTS dictionary and get to know the deaf person’s communication needs. 

This is especially important in technical, sensitive, or interactive settings.


Avril discusses her experience with interpreters. Consistency with STTS providers is just as important as consistency with interpreting, for many of the same reasons. Read full video description


STTS Teaming Practices

For CART providers, a team of providers is generally not needed. For C-Print or Typewell, it is standard practice to have a team for longer or more challenging assignments. Working in a team helps protect the integrity of the message and reduce repetitive motion injuries associated with STTS providers.

HIPAA and Other Special Situations


ASR is not an effective substitution for professional speech-to-text services. Read full video description

Difference Between Notes and Transcripts

Additional Resources

Speech-to-Text Services: An Introduction  ( English | Spanish )

Today’s technology affords deaf individuals access to the world like never before. Speech-to-text is one example of technology that brings access to individuals who are visual communicators.

“Speech-to-text” is an umbrella term used to describe an accommodation where spoken communication, as well as other auditory information, is translated into text in real time. A service provider types what is heard, and the text appears on a screen for the consumer to read.

Three main systems are used to provide real-time captioning: (a) Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), (b) C-Print®, and (c) TypeWell.

Hiring Qualified Speech-to-Text Providers  ( English | Spanish )

Speech-to-text is one method of providing effective communication access under the law. However, it is more than simply providing technology; it requires the provision of effective services, and speech-to-text services are only as good as the skills of the service provider. When hiring a service provider, a number of qualification factors must be considered. It is imperative that institutions evaluate the quality of service to ensure that effective, real-time communication access is occurring.

Best Practices in Access: Deaf Interpreters


Faculty Handbook Template

Interpreter Handbook Template

Notetaker Handbook Template

Speech to Text Handbook Template

Student Handbook Template

This collection of handbook templates is designed for a disability support service provider to download and personalize for his or her institution’s needs. These handbooks contain information for orientation to and standardization of procedures as well as general information about how these service providers can work effectively within a postsecondary education setting and with deaf students. Templates are included for faculty, interpreters, notetakers, speech-to-text providers, and students. (Revised: 2017)

Institutions frequently face a variety of challenges with providing accessible environments for deaf students. One common challenge is the semester-to-semester changes in the number of registered deaf students and service provider availability. In these circumstances, institutions often contract directly with service providers or through agencies to fulfill requests from deaf students, staff members, faculty members, and visitors. A formal agreement between the institution and service provider or agency that outlines clear expectations is recommended to ensure that quality services are arranged.
Policies and Procedures: Excessive Student Absences  ( English | Spanish )

Deaf students have the same rights as their hearing peers, including the right to be absent. However, when they are absent from class, disability service professionals become concerned that the funds being expended for interpreters or speech-to-text services are not being used prudently. By establishing policies and procedures for students and staff to follow, disability service professionals are able to balance the need for access with the need to demonstrate responsible budgetary management. 

Telecommunications: VRS, VRI, and TRS  ( English | Spanish )

With technology always seemingly one step ahead of us, it’s easy to confuse the various telecommunication services used to visually connect hearing and deaf individuals wishing to communicate with each other. Three primary telecommunication services are in use today: (1) video relay service (VRS), (2) telecommunications relay service (TRS), and (3) video remote interpreting (VRI). VRS and TRS are free programs regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, and VRI is a fee-based service that satisfies the communication-related mandates of the Americans With Disabilities Act. As their names suggest, VRS and VRI are video-based services, and TRS is text driven.