Letter to the Editor: Misuse of Terminology

An article posted in Canadian Lawyer references “a stenographer’s benefits claim,” though the BCSRA has its doubts that the person in question is a stenographer. The BCSRA submitted the following letter to the editors and author late April 2023:

Dear Angelica & Editors,

I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to bring your attention to an error in an article referencing a “stenographer‘s benefit claim.” The article cites Bird v. British Columbia (Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal), 2023 BCSC 543 (CanLII), which also makes the same error.

I would like to clarify that Ms. Bird’s occupation would be better described as a transcriptionist rather than a stenographer. A stenographer is trained in machine shorthand and uses a chorded machine to write at speeds of up to 225+ words per minute at over 95% accuracy. On the other hand, a transcriptionist’s role involves transcribing audio recordings. While stenographers may work as transcriptionists, court reporters, CART captioners, and broadcast captioners, not all individuals in these roles are stenographers.

As noted in paragraph 7 of the CanLII decision, Ms. Bird’s duties included “sitting at a keyboard throughout the day and transcribing audio recordings 95 percent of the time, typing 90 words per minute.” The article’s reference to Ms. Bird as a stenographer appears to be incorrect for the following reasons:

  1. A stenographer writes using machine shorthand on a steno machine rather than typing on a keyboard.
  2. 90 words per minute is a relatively low speed for a stenographer.
I hope this clarification is helpful, and I would respectfully request a correction for said article. Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.

Liz Royal
British Columbia Shorthand Reporters Association

Though there was no response to the letter, the article was updated to include the BCSRA’s comments above.
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