What Type of Keyboard Does A Court Stenographer Use?

A court stenographer uses a very specialised style of keyboard which is not used elsewhere. Using a stenotype machine, which is also known as a stenograph, the keyboard of this fabulous machine features far fewer keys than a standard keyboard- only 22. 

The keyboard consists of two rows of keys down each side which house the consonants and there are 4 keys in the middle at the front which consist of four of the vowels; A, O, E and U.

In the middle of the keyboard is a key which is neither, featuring an asterisk. 

If numbers are required, they can be found by pressing some of the alphabetical keys along with a number bar which features along the top of the keyboard. 

The system is a shorthand style and is very loosely based on phonetics and spelling out of certain phrases, as required.

What is a stenographer?

A stenographer is a person who is trained to type into shorthand as words are spoken and is often found in a courtroom – a court stenographer – but can be in other environments too, such as medical professions or TV caption creation.

When was stenography invented?

First invented in 1877, the first stenotype machines were created by Miles Bartholomew. He was is nicknamed “Father of the Stenograph”. On his first machine, one of the ten keys could be pushed down to create a series of dots similar to Morse code. 

Why is stenography used in courtrooms?

Because stenography is quicker than typing using a standard keyboard,it is useful in courtrooms as it allows for proceedings to be recorded far more quickly.

The Stenographer is trained to type as fast as people can speak, in shorthand, and the information is accurate and quickly available. The system can be programmed to spell out phrases commonly used in court proceedings via collaboration of sets of keys.

How many WPM can a stenographer type?

Full syllables, words or phrases can be obtained by pressing multiple keys – this is known as ‘chording’ or ‘stroking’ and is all carried out with a single hand motion, making input proficient, easier and faster.

A Stenographer can type at least 225 words per minute using this combination of shorthand and chording. More advanced stenographers can often type more than a staggering 350 words per minute.

Can you use a normal keyboard for stenography?

Yes, it is possible to use a standard keyboard for stenography. All that is required is a keyboard that has NKRO (which is N-Key Rollover). Many gaming keyboards feature this and a recommended keyboard is the Microsoft Sidewinder X4 keyboard.

As stenography machines can cost upwards of $1500 and can reach staggering prices of up to $5000 it is a feasible option to consider if you just want to practise or learn stenography.

Professional stenographers still use a stenotype keyboard to allow them to carry out their condensed shorthand typing in work situations.  

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