Will Accents Impact My Use of Transcription Services?

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The quick answer is that yes, accents will probably impact your transcription service experience. But, things are a bit more complex than that. For starters, accents are relative. Whether or not your accent is deemed challenging will be impacted by the accent of the person transcribing your data. As a general rule, when using human transcription services, strong accents are likely to cost you a little extra. For speech to text software, accents can have a much more deleterious impact. Let’s break this down in a little more detail.

Accents and Speech to Text Software

Where you need to think most about accents is when using speech to text software. Most speech to text software is only really designed to accommodate neutral American accents. Any distinct regional accent is likely to trigger a less than desirable outcome for a software-based transcription service. If the accent is thick, it might deliver completely unintelligible outcomes.

Accents are just one of several factors that you need to think about when using software-based services. Things like background noise, low audio quality, compressed audio files, fast talkers and multiple speakers (particularly if they are speaking over one another), can all become serious issues for automatic speech recognition (ASR) programs. The presence of an accent will exacerbate these other factors, and if the accent is thick enough, it may be enough by itself to completely overwhelm the capabilities of ASR transcription services to deliver an accurate transcription.

At the very least, you should expect an accent to increase the error rate you normally get when using software-based audio transcription services. If you know that you want to use ASR and have yet to make the recording, try and be conscious of accents. Minimise all other complicating factors and get the accented speaker to speak as slowly and as clearly as possible. Next, choose a service that includes time stamps to make it easier for you to go back through and clean up the inevitable problem spots.

Accents and Human Transcription Services

You have a lot more room to manoeuvre when it comes to accents and human transcription services. The human brain is still far better than software at deciphering the complexity of speech, and even a person unaccustomed to the particular accent in question will do a lot better at creating a transcript than a computer. Human transcribers also have customisable playback tools that allow them to improve the audio, slow it down and repeat in order to eventually pick out the true meaning.

Furthermore, remember that accents are relative. Unlike the fact that most of the current ASR software is based on technology developed in Silicon Valley, there are human transcriptionists all over the place. For example, if you need an interview with a Glaswegian transcribed, an American might struggle but anyone from the UK, particularly from Scotland, won’t hear much of an accent at all. If you are dealing with a recording of speakers with really thick regional accents, you may benefit from picking a regional service.

Fundamentally, however, you should be able to get the result you need from most human transcription companies, no matter how thick the accent. But, it might cost you a little extra. A lot of transcription services levy an additional fee for accents. This is not universal, as many other transcription companies use all-inclusive pricing. But, it is important to look in to the details of specific transcription rates to make sure that a thick accent isn’t going to add an additional £0.25 or £0.50 to the per minute rate. This is actually an important thing to do anyway. Particularly for transcription companies with bottom barrel headline price points, there will often be a lot of additional charges if you want things like timestamps or your recording has more than one speaker.

Summary: Accents Matter, But It Shouldn’t Stop You From Getting a Quality Transcript

Unfortunately, accents are something that you need to think about when engaging with transcription services. Particularly with speech to text software, accents can become a prohibiting factor. The truth, however, is that it is hard to get a high-quality transcript out of software services no matter what. Having a thick accent might simply save you the heartache of continuously failing to get a transcript that you can use from an ASR provider. But, if this is your first time using transcription services, you can always experiment with ASR to see what results you get.

For human transcription services, a thick accent might make the transcription service more expensive, but it should not impact the quality of the outcome. Remember that accents are local and by looking for a transcription service local to the accent in question, those extra fees won’t apply. Equally, you can look for a transcription service with inclusive pricing that won’t be impacted by accents. Human transcription services are the premium option anyway. An accent might make them slightly harder to use, but it won’t impact the outcome you receive.

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Take Note

Take Note is a UK-based transcription service with world-class customer support alongside the highest standards of security and ethics. We deliver a comprehensive range of transcription services including Audio and Video Transcription, Video Captions and On-Site Note Taking.