GLEN GORDON: On FSCast 205, Eric Damery is back with more about what’s coming in JAWS, ZoomText, and Fusion 2022, and how you can try those features early. Then we’ll meet Daniele Casarola. He spent over two years teaching himself stenography and now works as a court reporter in Italy. He did it with the help of a JAWS plugin for his stenography program, called Plover.
Hello, everybody. Glen Gordon welcoming you to our podcast for September of 2021. In the mispronunciation department, I got a very nice note from Susan, who said that repeatedly on this podcast and other places we’ve referred to Dr. Abraham Nemeth, creator of the Nemeth Code, with a “long E.” So we’ve been saying “nee-meth.” For me, it’s because that’s how I was taught when I was very young and first learning math. All of my elementary school teachers pronounced it with a “long E.”
But Susan knew Dr. Nemeth personally and says he would be very unhappy with that pronunciation. So for future reference, for me and for any of you who are listening, it’s Nemeth with a short vowel sound.
Another piece of mail that came in this month is cause for me to remind you that FreedomScientific.com/training really is your one-stop shop if you’re looking for training materials on our various products. It starts out, obviously, with the basic trainings, but then links to many of our short YouTube videos, instructions on a variety of applications used with our software. We’re trying really hard to make that the single spot you can go to, to find all of our training information.
If you prefer listening to a podcast – and thank you, by the way, for continuing to listen to this one – Freedom Scientific has a second one, which is called Freedom Scientific Training. And we take some of our training materials and put them up in podcast form. So if you’re not already subscribed, that may be something you want to add to your listening schedule.
It’s always great to hear from you. And every month I am delighted when more and more of you are writing in. And I do try to answer. I’ve been a little slow this month, so there were a couple of emails that languished in my email box. But I think I’ve gotten back to everyone thus far. And if you have an idea for a guest, comments about our software, comments about how I pronounce things, all of those things are very welcome because I’m quite willing to take suggestions and very happy to do so. You can get in touch by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
GLEN: Time now for this month’s Power Tip, and it’s courtesy of Sara N. Sara actually stumbled into this accidentally. She had started using a new human resources program and was really confounded as to how to drag some items. And as luck would have it, she normally uses JAWS Key+Numpad/ to do a left-mouse click simulation. And by mistake she added the SHIFT key to that and heard “drag item.”
And indeed, that is the key, at least with a laptop layout, for doing a drag-and-drop. You move either the JAWS cursor or the PC cursor to the item you want to drag. You hit JAWS Key+SHIFT+Numpad/ once. That sort of makes note of the item to be dragged. You then move one of the cursors to where you want to drop the item. You hit that same keystroke again; and, if all goes well, the item has been dragged and moved. If you’re using desktop layout, you need to change the keystroke slightly. It’s JAWS Key+CTRL+Numpad/. But other than that, it works the same way.
I want to remind you that this is only for desktop Windows apps. It’s not for something that uses the virtual cursor. It’ll fail miserably there. But it works well in other places if drag-and-drop is something that’s in your future. For sending in her Power Tip, we will give Sara an added year on her JAWS, ZoomText, or Fusion license. If you have a tip that you want to send in as a short audio recording, or something by mail that I can paraphrase, write to us at email@example.com.
GLEN: We’re about 10 days out from when we first released Public Beta 1 of JAWS, ZoomText, and Fusion, at least 10 days out at the time we’re recording this. And Eric Damery is back to talk a little bit about what’s changed, what to expect, and when everything releases. Eric, welcome back.
ERIC DAMERY: Thanks, Glen. It’s good to be back again so quick. We had a great first public beta release. We had a lot of feedback, had tons of downloads, and overwhelmingly the feedback has been really positive.
GLEN: Excellent. So what’s next in terms of schedule?
ERIC: Well, we are targeting October 5th for Public Beta 2 to hit. So it should be right around that date. And then you’ll see a Public Beta 3 about two weeks after that, and then a final release at the end of the month.
GLEN: Up through Beta 3, anybody who’s licensed to use our 2021 products can use it; right?
ERIC: Yes. And if you don’t have the 2021 license, if you have something earlier, or you have nothing at all, it runs as a 40-minute reboot the computer solution.
GLEN: But once the final release comes out, the licensing requirements change, and you’ll need to make sure that you’re up to date.
ERIC: Yes. And of course as I always mention, there is a real price break if you are current with 2021, get into the SMA program, and do it before we release so you can take advantage. You’ll basically be getting the next two upgrades for half price. So do it ahead.
GLEN: And if you’re on the Home Annual use program, as we talked about last month, you’re good to go as long as your software is current because that’s licensed on an annual basis, not on a version basis.
GLEN: If someone’s sort of late to the party, they haven’t installed Public Beta 1, but they’re ready to try with Public Beta 2, can they start out with that?
ERIC: That’s right. They can just start right there and get that installed, just as they would have the first time. And if they’ve already installed Public Beta 1, they do not have to remove it. You’ll actually be alerted through the automatic update that the version has come out. So when you restart Public Beta 1 at some point you’ll hear Public Beta 2 is available. You can go ahead and do the update process. Or at anytime you can just download the full version and install it right over top. No need to uninstall.
GLEN: What are some of the things that have changed?
ERIC: So one of the things that you and I both heard during – I think it was during the OpenLine. A user commented on they would like the ability to avoid having the auto-migration happen. So we actually made a change based on that comment.
GLEN: And comments from others, as well.
ERIC: And comments from others. So right in the installer, if you’re installing first time, and you’ve got a 2020 or a 2021 on your computer, and therefore the auto-migration would be happening, there’ll be a checkbox that comes up on the first screen of the install where you have to accept the license. If you tab forward you’d find another checkbox right there that says something about avoiding the auto-migration. So if you uncheck that, it’ll skip the migration after the installation.
GLEN: Although we definitely like responding to comments like that one, and adding some options where necessary, this is a feature generally that most people have really liked.
ERIC: Absolutely. And for those users who still want to clear, if they forgot the checkbox on the install, and they would like to clear it out and start with a nice clean version of 2022, at anytime you can always now go to the Options menu and choose Restore Factory Defaults, and it will clean all your user settings.
GLEN: There was also a change that is coming, having to do with the split audio feature.
ERIC: Yes. So the user feedback was sometimes when you split your audio, because let’s say you’re joining a Zoom meeting, and all of a sudden now the meeting starts, and meanwhile you’ve moved focus someplace else, when you do the split, it splits JAWS, but it leaves the meeting in stereo because your focus wasn’t on that application. So the change that we’ve made is that whenever you do the split now, it’ll send JAWS to one channel. It’ll send any other application that you may run, either now or during this session afterwards, it’ll send all of those to the other channel.
GLEN: And so you don’t need to pay as much attention to where you are at the time you issue the commands.
ERIC: That’s right.
GLEN: And the command, again, is JAWS Key+SPACE, V, B for Balance, and then LEFT ARROW to move JAWS to the left and everything else to the right, or RIGHT ARROW to do just the opposite.
ERIC: Right. And then at some point, if you want to reset everything and go back to stereo, you can do the INSERT+SPACE V B and hit an UP ARROW, and that’ll recenter everything. So a great feature.
ERIC: We improved it a little more, too.
GLEN: We did. And we’ve actually added another audio feature, which I know will make the final release, we think will make Public Beta 2. And that has to do with multiple soundcards and selecting between them.
ERIC: Yeah. Oftentimes, and I’ve run across this, and I’ve talked to other users that have, I’ll be on let’s say a Bluetooth headset, and I’ll be using JAWS happily, and then I’ll start a Teams meeting or a Zoom meeting. And all of a sudden the audio on the JAWS side drops because the soundcard is switched for that application, and JAWS didn’t come with it. So all of a sudden I’ve got no JAWS speech. I can hear the meeting and everything, but you need the ability to cycle between your soundcards. And while we have this feature in the JAWS menu system, it’s not so easy to remember how to get there, and of course you have no way of knowing which sound card you’re actually moving to and pressing ENTER to see if it works.
GLEN: And each time you do that from the menu, if you pick the wrong one, you’ve got to go back into the menu and remember, oh, last time I tried DOWN ARROWing twice. That didn’t work. Now I’m going to try three and four and so forth. So we think we’ve simplified it.
ERIC: That’s right. So if you feel like you’ve got in this situation where all of a sudden your JAWS speech stops because another meeting kicked in, you can do now INSERT+SPACE, V as in Voice, and instead of B for Balance, use C for Card. And once you’ve gone into the card layer, now you’re in a menu, and you can up and down through your different sound devices that are available. I usually have three or four; and I know, Glen, you’ve usually got many more.
GLEN: I have eight, yes.
ERIC: Once I hit the soundcard that JAWS is actually using, JAWS will start speaking again. So it’s much simpler. INSERT+SPACE, V for Voice, C for Card, and then UP and DOWN ARROW. And once you’ve hit it three or four times, if you don’t get speech, maybe there’s something else going on.
GLEN: Something we added to ZoomText and Fusion probably mid-2021 product release, we never really have talked about on FSCast. It’s called the Quick Access Bar. And being somewhat visual, I’ll defer to Eric for describing how that works.
ERIC: JAWS users are all familiar with just remembering keystrokes to be able to get to things. ZoomText users in particular, but Fusion users, as well, rely much more on vision and oftentimes on the mouse to be able to do things. And so the last thing you really want to have to do is go back and find the application window, bring it up, and go through the menus to pick the feature that you want. So we added something called the Quick Access Bar, which is like a little floating menu. It can be docked. By default it will be in 2022. It’s docked on the right edge of your screen so you’ll always know where to slide your mouse over to find it. And you can have up to seven features that you’d like to be able to access with our mouse quickly, at any moment, that you can store on there. And we’ve put seven on the Quick Access Bar, but you can change which features those are.
GLEN: And those would be things like what?
ERIC: Well, you might have your speech rate. You might have the color button so that you can toggle color without having to know the keystroke to do it. There’s even magnification settings there. So if you don’t want to use the CAPS LOCK with the UP and DOWN ARROW key, you can just use the Quick Access Bar. And you can always bring the Quick Access Bar right into your view by holding down the CAPS LOCK key and doing a RIGHT MOUSE CLICK. And it instantly appears in the middle of your magnified view. You pick the item you want, and you click back in your view, and then that Quick Access Bar will go away.
GLEN: What’s different about Quick Access Bar in 2022 from its original release?
ERIC: So JAWS users have had a command search feature, and we’re bringing this kind of a search right into ZoomText and Fusion now. There’ll be a search edit field in the Quick Access Bar. You’ll click there, start typing something in that you’re looking for, so like let’s say you didn’t have the color choice in your shortcuts, but you wanted to toggle color. So you’d start to type the word “color,” and instantly the items with the word “color” in them would appear right there in your list, and you could just click it, and it would do it.
So it’s, you know, it’s a concept that many people that are using Office 365 are used to now. You can do an ALT+Q in Office applications, and you land right in a search where you can start typing something. If you wanted to insert a table into a document or an email, you’d do ALT+Q and type “table” to find it. So it’s the same concept for Fusion and ZoomText. And I think our users will love it.
GLEN: And haven’t we purposed CAPS LOCK+Q to get there, or JAWS Key+Q? Or is that something we didn’t do?
ERIC: Yes. Yes. No, we took CAPS LOCK+Q, if you wanted to do it with a keystroke, to be able to get right into the Quick Access Bar, as well. But I think most ZoomText and Fusion users, they’re probably at some point using a mouse, and so CAPS LOCK and the right-click will bring it right up. Real simple, easy to remember.
GLEN: Now, when you search for a command, if you decide, oh, that’s something that would be useful to put on the Quick Access Bar permanently, can you do it right then?
ERIC: Yeah, you’ll be able to right-click on the item and choose it right from the context menu to say “Add it to my shortcut list.” Now, this, remember, assumes that you have room for it because you’ve only got room for up to, I think it’s eight items on your shortcuts.
GLEN: It just went up by one.
ERIC: Yeah, I think it’s eight.
GLEN: You said seven earlier.
ERIC: I apologize.
GLEN: We’ve just increased it during our conversation.
ERIC: I know. That’s right. This feature’s getting better by the minute. But if you do need to get rid of something, it’s very easy to go into the list. You just expand it out, and there’s an X next to the items, or you can bring up the context menu and choose to remove them from the list. So get rid of the things that we put there by default that you don’t think you’re going to use, and then add those things that you’d like. And I’ll give you an example. For a Fusion user, one of the features that JAWS has is the ability to read highlighted text. So if you’re on a web page, and let’s say you were trying to select a couple of large blocks of text, and you wanted to make sure that you had everything, it’s not so easy to go back if it’s outside the magnified view and double-check everything.
At some point you might – you’ve selected a lot with the mouse, and then you can just go to the Quick Access Bar. And you could have the Say All highlighted text shortcut right there, and you just click it, and JAWS would read you all the text that you’ve selected so you can verify that you’ve got everything. So there’ll be features like that that you’ll want to add on there. And you’ll think of more, I’m sure.
GLEN: We’re recording this on the 23rd of September, which means our conversation, even though it sounds decisive, probably is not the last word on these topics. Things will change at the last moment. Is there a place people can go to find out the latest and greatest and how to proceed?
ERIC: Absolutely. If you make your way to the FreedomScientific.com, our home page, on the home page you can search for the word “beta,” or go to Software Updates. You’ll find a link right there on the home page to the beta. Now, a reason to go there is if you look at that link, it’ll actually have the date. So it’s either going to be a September date, and it would still be Public Beta 1; or it’ll be the October 5th data, and you’ll know that Public Beta 2 is out. And if you choose that link, it takes you to a page where the write-up of all the changes in the current build you’ll find right there, plus you’ll find a link to a form where you can give us feedback on the beta. And of course you’ll find links for JAWS, ZoomText, and Fusion on that page, as well. And you can download and install right from there.
GLEN: We realize that not all of you are quite as daring, and generally wait till the official product releases. And if that’s the path you choose, you don’t have to wait terribly long because things will be out right around the end of October.
ERIC: That’s right. I’m hoping that we can hit right around the 27th or 28th. We will try and beat Halloween in the U.S.
GLEN: And it will be a treat, not a trick.
ERIC: People are going to love it. It’s, you know, one of the things that we got feedback on – and if you are a user of Outlook, pay attention to this. The responsiveness in Outlook is noticeably improved in 2022, over the 2021 version. So if you get it installed, make sure you look for that, do that comparison.
GLEN: Well, as always, Eric, thanks for joining us.
ERIC: Thank you, Glen.
GLEN: Back in 2017 I was contacted by a JAWS user named Daniele Casarola. He was using an open-source program for doing stenography called Plover, and finding that JAWS was not offering the feedback he needed. So he and I worked together. We came up with a Plover plugin that does provide the proper feedback, made it part of the Plover plugins repository, and it’s been there from somewhere around 2019 onward. But I realized that we’d never discussed it. And I know that most of you probably have no interest in learning stenography, but this may pique the interest of some of you. And besides, Daniele is an interesting person to talk to. He’s on the line with me now. Daniele, welcome to FSCast.
DANIELE CASAROLA: Oh, thank you so much to you, Glen. And please forgive me for my pronunciation sometimes is not so good.
GLEN: You shouldn’t be saying that because just think how I butchered your name.
DANIELE: My name, yes, the pronunciation is correct: Daniele Casarola.
GLEN: Yeah, you have a little bit more of a flair when you say it. So how would you describe stenography? I mean, I know it’s multiple keys, similar to braille. But the fact that it’s multiple keys is probably the only similarity.
DANIELE: Yes, yes. It is a keyboard, like a small piano, if you want, and it is called also chord keyboard because you have to press at the same time more keys to insert one word or one syllable at once. In the standard QWERTY keyboard, each stroke is one letter, one character. In here, each stroke can be one word or more than one word. So each time you press on the keyboard you insert a lot of characters. And for this reason it’s much, much faster than a standard QWERTY keyboard.
GLEN: How did you get interested in all of this?
DANIELE: On 2016, more or less, I lost my sight, and I started to search a job I can do using only my ears because you know I am not young, so young like before. So I have to start again, but not a university or something like that. I prefer to do something that I can really do faster maybe. A couple of years of studying, and I can enter in the job immediately. So I search a lot, and finally I found this opportunity, on the web, simply googling what a blind person can do. And I heard about an Italian group of blind people who did it, but with not success. In the past, you know, there is not Plover. There is not accessibility for that. So I can understand it was not successful. But anyway, this information arrived to me, and I started to understand what is that.
GLEN: And then did you go to school, or did you teach yourself? What was the next step?
DANIELE: I contacted the company in Italy which distributed the keyboard and also the training material. You also have in the U.S. a lot of them. The most famous is the Stenograph Company that also sold machines in Italy and all around the world. But the theory, what you have to learn, of course, is different depending on the language. So the keyboard is more or less the same, but the way you use the keyboard is different. I bought the materials to learn, and with the help of some sight person who read for me some of these books, finally in a couple of years I was ready to work.
GLEN: I know people who’ve gone through the training course in the United States, and I think it’s very unusual to do it on your own.
DANIELE: Yes. But I think basically they go because they have to know how to transcribe the content of the document. Because how to transcribe it with your fingers is only training. You have only to practice continuously. You don’t really need to stay a lot of years at school. You can do at home by yourself. But how to transcribe the content of a document, yes, you need to study in detail.
GLEN: And how did you do that?
DANIELE: For that I have to thank my first company. When I entered inside, I said, hey, guys, I’m able to transcribe really fast. And they told me, okay, now, I teach you how to transcribe a court reporting document. And they bring me inside the court. They show me how it works. So I spend one month of training.
GLEN: How hard was it to get a company to hire you?
DANIELE: Immediately. Immediately, yes.
GLEN: Really? It was not a problem?
DANIELE: No. Yes, because I don’t know in U.S., but probably is the same as Italy, a company should hire some person with some problem, blind or any kind of disability. So there is already one place for you, of course, if you know how to do this job. But in my case, you know, stenographers are not so common because thanks to voice recognition, you just spend a few dollars, just one month of training, and you are ready to work. But what people don’t understand is that if you spend much, much more dollars and much, much more time to learn, during your career you work much, much better, much more precise. And the company knows. And when a stenographer arrives, a stenographer that already knows how to use the machine, they hire you immediately.
GLEN: When did you start learning JAWS?
DANIELE: Before 2016 when I lost my sight because I want to be prepared. I remember I did an online training course with a guy from another country, so I don’t remember. And I stored all of this information inside an Excel file, even if I didn’t – when I really need, I took back this file, and I start to practice.
GLEN: Did you always use Plover for stenography? Or did you start out using something else?
DANIELE: At the beginning I used the official Italian software, which is not good like Plover. But I used only to learn stenography. Once I have to work, I move to Plover.
GLEN: And was that Italian software usable with JAWS? Or how well did it work?
DANIELE: The interface, yes. But what we need when we transcribe is not the accessible interface. We need audio feedback when we are typing. And this is not possible with the previous. But also with Plover is not possible unless you don’t create a link between Plover and JAWS.
GLEN: JAWS has the option to either speak character by character or speak the whole word as you enter it. But with stenography don’t you sometimes just enter part of a word and want feedback at that point?
DANIELE: Yes. For example, you know, when you type with stenography you don’t have a shift key to use uppercase word like a city, for example, London. You just type London, and automatically the software do it for you. The first stroke is L O N, and it is not uppercase because you can type a lot of words that start with L O N. But when you finish the word, D O N, the system recognize you want to type the city, and delete the first three characters and replace with uppercase. This operation for the screen reader normally is like to give me feedback, like, okay, I tell you “lon” because you delete “lon.” And then I read for you London. So each time you use uppercase word you have a strange audio feedback. This is something we fixed together. Now, when an uppercase word appears – so this game of delete and replace, delete and replace is smooth because I don’t have audio feedback of the part of the word which is deleted, but I have audio feedback of the final word. This is what I need.
GLEN: So you hear “London.” But you don’t really know, right, at that point, if it got capitalized. You’re sort of taking it on faith that it got capitalized.
DANIELE: I’m sure it is capitalized because the software has this word inside of the dictionary, and the rule is already there. You know, this software mainly is composed by a big huge dictionary with all of the words, also capital letters words. And so I’m sure that it’s going to be uppercase.
GLEN: Are you in a position to demonstrate this a little bit for us?
DANIELE: Okay. Let’s try to type something. Hello, World. Ciao mondo in Italian.
JAWS VOICE: Ciao mondo.
DANIELE: Finish. Pretty simple. The first stroke for the first word, hello.
JAWS VOICE: Ciao.
DANIELE: Just one chord to insert five characters at once, C I A O. And also the empty space because in stenography you don’t have basically a spacebar. The empty space is added automatically once the word is finished. And the second word, mondo.
JAWS VOICE: Mondo.
DANIELE: The same, just one stroke. Each time I press this stroke, I have this word.
JAWS VOICE: Mondo, mondo, mondo, mondo, mondo.
DANIELE: Pretty simple. I can also insert a word using multiple strokes of course, for example the word “pretty,” carino in Italian. The first stroke, the first syllable, C A, I don’t have audio feedback for that. And the last stroke, the last syllables. This time I have audio feedback because JAWS is designed to give me audio feedback once the word is complete. You know, when you go really fast you really don’t need audio feedback for each syllable, is really confusing. I have audio feedback when I type the word “hello.”
JAWS VOICE: Ciao.
DANIELE: And I have also audio feedback when I delete the word.
JAWS VOICE: Ciao.
DANIELE: When you press the key to DELETE, basically it is like a sort of CTRL+Z, like undo. It just deleted the last stroke. So one stroke to insert the “hello.”
JAWS VOICE: Ciao.
DANIELE: And when I press DELETE, it removes the last stroke, in this case the whole word “hello.”
JAWS VOICE: Ciao.
DANIELE: And JAWS gave me audio feedback, so I’m sure the word has been deleted, and I can replace with a new word if I want. Let’s try to insert a full sentence.
JAWS VOICE: [Long fast Italian sentence]
DANIELE: Finish. Pretty fast. [Long fast Italian sentence] This is the sentence: “All the afternoons coming back from school, all the children want to play in the garden of the giant.” It is slower to say than to type because basically when you type you are fast as a speaker can talk. Consider you can reach a speed of around 200 words per minute, something like that.
GLEN: Did you participate in competitions to figure out just how fast you could do stenography?
DANIELE: Yes. First competition exist in – international competition, also American people joined, Chinese, European, all around the world is a really nice moment to share. It is called Intersteno. The first one I joined was in Berlin in 2017. And I arrived 30 position I remember on 60 people of that. I was the last one of stenographer because you know everybody can join. The same test you can do with your QWERTY keyboard, voice recognition, and steno machine. I remember it was at the last one of steno machine. But behind of me, all of QWERTY keyboards.
DANIELE: Just to tell you that the worst stenographer is always better than the QWERTY keyboard. And each two years. So the next I joined it was in Italy, Cagliari, in 2019. And I increased. I arrived 12 in the position. It was a really nice moment. Also thanks to JAWS, your plugin, I can say because, you know, when I type I have audio feedback; okay? As we described. But when you are in a competition, you really don’t need to listen what you are doing because you have to go really fast. You don’t have time to check. But at the same time, you need, if you delete a word, to have audio feedback because I can press the delete key, but I’m totally lost if I don’t have audio feedback.
GLEN: So when you’re doing transcription, it sounds like you’re not really asking JAWS to review what you’ve entered as much as you are trying to get feedback when you’re typing something and when you’re deleting. And only later do you go back and review the whole document? Is that how it works?
DANIELE: You know, you don’t have time to review the document. It should be good immediately. So I use JAWS. JAWS continuously talk when I’m typing, but at the same time I have the real speaker who is talking. So JAWS it is like a parrot. He repeat. What I listen is the real speaker, and JAWS just a few milliseconds after the real speaker. But I don’t really pay attention to JAWS continuously, only when I have the feeling that my finger didn’t touch the right key, just to be sure that what I’m doing is correct.
Little by little you can train your brain to use the screen reader like that. It is just a railing that you touch with your hand, in the meantime you are working, only when you really feel that you lost your direction or you need to be sure that you are going in the right direction.
GLEN: So when you’re finished for the day, are you saying that you don’t go back and review everything that you’ve typed?
DANIELE: You press F7 on your keyboard, Microsoft Word, just to check if you did some mistakes. But you don’t read all the document since the beginning. You don’t have time. Is too much time consuming. You know, we are paid on the basis of production, characters we produce. So I don’t have time.
GLEN: That’s fascinating. I had no idea that was the case. I always thought that people would go back and review.
DANIELE: You know, once you train yourself, it becomes automatically what you type. Also the kind of words, the sentences they use inside of the court, little by little is always the same. So in the meantime you are typing, really you can think what to buy to the supermarket, something else, because it becomes really automatically.
GLEN: When you’re finished at the end of the day, do you feel like you’re really – your hands are really tired? This is all you could do? Or do you feel like, oh, I could go another few hours if I needed to?
DANIELE: No, no. At the beginning of my career, yes, I feel really tired. But little by little I invest. I bought a professional keyboard. I improve my dictionary so to type words I use less strokes. This is the key of this job is like a zip to compress all the words inside of really few strokes. And so at the end of the day you just press the keys less times, and with a professional keyboard you didn’t push too much on the keys. And for the moment I don’t feel too much stressed. Until five, six hours, I feel good.
GLEN: You told me about something when we were working together, and it’s called a stenomask. Can you describe that? I was fascinated by that.
DANIELE: Stenomask is basically voice recognition. It is a microphone that you apply on your mouth which cover your nose and your mouth like a mask. This is because in the meantime you are talking, you cannot be disturbed by anybody around. The sound of your voice that you produce for the microphone should be only your voice, otherwise the system can do some mistake. And then there is a software like Dragon Naturally Speaking which recognize your voice inside this microphone, which is a professional microphone. It is called “respeaking.” You just listen, and you respeak what you listen.
GLEN: That sounds like you would really need to reread everything that was done because you have no idea how voice transcription is going to get it wrong.
DANIELE: Absolutely. When you dictate something, you have to wait till the text, the sentence appears and then the JAWS read for you that. But it’s a really long time action. When you type with your keyboard is immediately. You just listen, you type, and you have the sentence, you know what you typed. Everything happens fast. But with the other way is too long. You can do, but you spend time.
GLEN: And have you tried that? Have you done that?
DANIELE: Honestly, I use a stenomask and voice recognition, but for captioning. For example, now you know – no, maybe I don’t know if you like soccer, football. But there is the Champions League, which is a competition in Europe. And Amazon bought the right to, on Amazon Prime, to show this event. And they asked to us to do some titles for deaf people. This job is really hard with stenography because it’s full of foreign names, the name and so name of players from Croatia, from Spain, Italy, France, Germany. So they’re really hard to transcribe with your keyboard. But it’s not so hard to dictate with your voice.
So in this situation I prefer to use voice recognition. Of course you have to spend some hours to create a dictionary for the Dragon software to train the dictionary to recognize these names because they don’t have all the names, some names of players inside the dictionary. But after your training, you don’t have to remember the combination on the keyboard. You just have to talk.
GLEN: I see.
DANIELE: Because you listen the real speaker, you just talk.
GLEN: Well, Daniele, this was great. I should have had you on the podcast much sooner than I did. But I kept thinking it would be a fun interview. And you have not disappointed.
DANIELE: Thanks to you, Glen, and also for your support. Thank you so much.
GLEN: And maybe now that we’ve talked about it, other people will be interested in trying stenography. Do you have any advice for them?
DANIELE: Yes, for sure. It’s a really interesting job you learn. Honestly, I learn a lot of things about our society that I didn’t know before because of the content of your transcribing basically is a mirror of your society. And the way that you have to transcribe is so fast, it’s something, it’s a sort of – you can improve continuously. So it’s something you never stop to learn. You can be better and better. And then you can put yourself in competition with other. And when you see that your disability is not a limit, and you can really be competitive, it’s great for me.
GLEN: Excellent. Well, thanks again for being with us.
DANIELE: Thanks to you, Glen.
GLEN: If our conversation has gotten you a little interested in stenography, the place to go to find out about what’s available for free is something called The Open Steno Project. Search for that in your favorite search engine. Steno is spelled S T E N O. That has lots of resources for learning stenography and a direct link to Plover, where you can find out about downloading the software. Downloading it is not a straightforward task because the officially released version is 3.something from back in 2016. That is not compatible with the JAWS plugin.
But from the Plover page, if you choose the GitHub link, from there go to Releases. Find the latest in the 4.0 dev series, 4.0 dev 9, as I record this. Click on that, and then under there click Assets where you’ll be able to find the Windows download. I don’t think we’re going to be overwhelmed by people wanting to teach themselves stenography. So if you’re interested, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll try to give you some help.
GLEN: That’s going to do it for FSCast 205. I’m Glen Gordon. Thanks for listening.