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Stenography is getting a popularity boost thanks to a series of how-to videos posted by a female Edmonton, Alberta, Canada student. Isabelle Lumsden, who is taking a stenography course at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, featured her stenotype “steno” machine in a video that she posted on the social media app TikTok in September, 2020.

The people were hooked. Soon enough there were 3.3 million views on the video, close to half a million likes, and the 23-year-old was fielding a flood of questions.


“People were most fascinated by the keys and actually just how they work,” said Lumsden. “Lots of people were commenting, saying it was like witchcraft and very thrown off by it.”


Stenotype machines are used by court reporters who capture testimony verbatim during trials, hearings or depositions. The shorthand tapped into the stenotype looks like an alien language before being translated into proper sentences using a connected computer. Unlike the standard QWERTY keyboard, the stenotype machine has only 22 keys.

Shortage of court reporters

Stenography is often described as one of the original careers for women, dating back to the 1880s. But the profession seems to have lost its luster. The North American shortage of court reporters is why many feel this way. According to a 2019 article in the Wall Street Journal, the school dropout rate for court reporters is around 80 to 85 percent.

When her mom suggested she consider court reporting as a career, Lumsden was intrigued.

After the success of her first video, Lumsden dedicated her TikTok channel to stenography and court reporting. She’s gained about 80,000 followers and has been featured on BuzzFeed.

Because TikTok videos are only a minute long, Lumsden has released several that explain exactly how the machine works and how the keys form words.

With so many transcription tools available online, some people have asked if she is concerned about seeing her job taken over by artificial intelligence.

On average, court reporters can type between 180 to 225 words per minute.

Lumsden was told to practice a minimum of two hours a day. So far she can capture up to 80 words per minute but is working her way to 100.

With the shortage of stenographers in Canada and the United States, combined with the surprising popularity of her TikTok videos, Lumsden is confident about her future employment prospects.

If you need court reporting services (with a little more experience than Lumsden) that handle digital recoding then which supports all states and programs that aid in the court reporting world are ready to serve you in your court reporting, videography services, interpreters, live-streaming, and video-to-text synchronization.

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