Working with your Speech-to-Text Interpreter ► Equal Dreams

A Guide for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Users

Here’s a guide on what you can expect from our speech-to-text interpreting (STTI) service, and how to make best use of it. We look forward to collaborating with you!

What does a speech-to-text interpreter do?

They provide you a meaning-for-meaning live transcript of aural information, rather than trying to capture every single word.

To do this, they use a combination of:

  • Shorthand strategies
  • Omitting words that don’t add to overall meaning (e.g. filler words)
  • Reworking sentence structure to keep things more concise, if needed

There are some common misconceptions about STTI. To clarify,

  • STTI is not a word for word transcript, or a summary of main points covered in class
  • STTI is also not a replacement for comprehensive, tidied-up study notes

Speech-to-text interpreters are also not a filter that decides for you what’s important information and what isn’t. Instead, they decide what is information, and transcribe it for equitable access.

Our policy is to assign you a speech-to-text interpreter with subject matter knowledge, as far as possible. For example, if you’re taking an engineering class, we will try to allocate you someone from that background. However, this is subject to availability.


What’s the process of engaging our STTI service like?

A day or more before the assignment

1. You’ll be linked up with your allocated interpreter.

2. Send them your lesson materials, if any, so they can be better prepared and create the transcript more effectively.

3. We strongly encourage you to prepare to bring your own device, if possible. While you can refer to your interpreter’s screen, the classroom set up may not always make it comfortable to do so.


Before class

Discuss these with the interpreter especially if it’s your first time working together:

1. Sitting together or apart

If you’re using Google Documents, you can opt to access the live transcript through your own device and sit apart from the interpreter. On the flipside, sitting together means you can easily refer to the interpreter’s screen if the connection drops, and encourages better collaboration between you and the interpreter.

If you’re sitting beside the interpreter, they should place their screen in the same line of sight as the whiteboard/projector screen and the speaker, as seen in the diagram below — so you can see everything at once.

Diagram above illustrates how the interpreter should place their device within the line of sight of the speaker and the whiteboard/projector screen.


2. Seating arrangement in the classroom

Consider sitting near the front so both of you have less visual distractions and don’t get blocked by other participants or classmates. It’ll also be easier for the interpreter to snap pictures of the whiteboard or the projector screen, which they might include in your transcript for your easy referencing.

3. Platform for the transcript

We recommend Google Documents, but sometimes, it may not be the best fit for the situation. If so, you can let the interpreter know if you’d like the transcript to be done via other platforms.

4. How the both of you should communicate during class

For example, if you and your interpreter both know sign language, you can sign. You could also chat through Google Documents if you’re sitting apart.

5. Your preference for what to include in the transcript

There are two options:

  • (i) include everything heard in class, including non-academic content like jokes and conversations, OR
  • (ii) purely focusing on lesson content.

Your interpreter can’t type out everything word for word. However, if you prefer (i), they’ll do their best to cover as much as possible to minimise the access gap.

Your interpreter may use comprehensive short forms, like abbreviations, to speed up their typing, so do inform them if you don’t understand any ones being used.


During class

1. Use the speech-to-text document as a transcript, not tidied up study notes

In most cases, the transcript reflects the nature of live interaction, which may not be conducive to use for study materials, which are typically a condensed, organised and summarised version of what was taught.

2. Collaborate with the interpreter for more comprehensive transcript

The interpreter will try to take shots of the screen or whiteboard, but their focus will be on the transcript. If you would like a much more comprehensive transcript, you can work together with the interpreter on this. If possible, one way to do so is for you to help with capturing and inserting the images into Google Documents.


After class

1. Accessing your transcript

If your interpreter used Google Documents, the raw transcript will already be in your Google Drive module folder. At this stage, you’ll see “​Status: In Progress​” at the top of the transcript document. 

Please give the interpreter up till the next working day to clean up the transcript.  During this time, they may correct typos, add headings, or highlight important points like exam tips and reminders.

Once the transcript is cleaned up, you’ll see the status change to “​Complete​”.

If you’re already satisfied with the quality of the transcript taken during the class, inform the interpreter that there’s no need to clean up any further.

2. Give feedback to your interpreter

Let them know if the transcript you got for this session fit your learning style and preferences, and how they can improve the transcript from here.

If there are any issues about the STTI service, reach out to us at


The Code of Conduct for Accessibility Professionals

Based on the principle of equitable access, speech-to-text interpreters are strictly bound by this Code of Conduct.

1. Only create the transcript in your presence

A hearing classmate who is absent doesn’t get access to information conveyed in that lesson. In the same way, no transcript will be created till you arrive for class.

2. Only convey what is heard and said in class

They’re not a personal tutor, so they will not teach, give advice or join in discussions, even if they have experience in the subject matter.

3. Keep information confidential

All content and communication during their assignments will be kept within the Equal Dreams team.

4. All transcripts delivered to you are your property

Interpreters are to pass the transcripts only to you, and are strictly not allowed to share the transcripts with others. If anyone else approaches them and asks for the transcripts, they’ll direct the request to you, and it’s your choice to share it with your classmates, or anyone else.

Speech-to-text interpreters have to follow the above code of conduct. Any requests to the speech-to-text interpreter which cause a conflict to the code of conduct will not be accepted. Do also inform us if you feel there has been a breach in the Code of Conduct.


Feel free to contact us at for any other queries or feedback.

We wish you all the best in your learning journey!


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