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Automatic Voicemail Transcription Services

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Voicemail service can be very useful to deaf people for a variety of purposes but getting a transcription has required going through a relay service. Now there are new automatic transcription services that convert voicemail to text messages. You do not need to go through a relay service.

Examples of such services are:

I have tested SimulScribe, a subscription service that uses speech recognition technology.  Originally designed for hearing people who complained about the time it took to listen to voice mail messages and write down the important information from each one, SimulScribe is also very useful for deaf and hard of hearing people. It is a handy service that allows hearing people to leave you voice messages which you can quickly understand (by reading the text) and then return the call through a relay service. This has been helpful to me in personal business, family life, and professional life.

On this service, it takes approximately 3 - 5 minutes from the time a voice message is left until the text message arrives on my computer or smart phone (BlackBerry, Treo, Sidekick, etc.).

How I use the automatic voicemail transcription service

I tested SimulScribe for six months and found it very valuable. I have two voice mail accounts (one at home for my kids and one at for receiving fax and voice messages). I just forward them to my account at SimulScribe and they will send either email or text messages to wherever I want. To my (and my kids’) surprise, I am now able to keep up with my own and their voice messages just like any hearing parent can. (I can check on who is calling my children, and what messages they are leaving.)

Using SimulScribe allowed me to keep up with voice mail messages no matter where I am, since I direct where the messages will be sent. There is no need to call a relay service to pick up my voice message.

How do I get the service?

If you don’t already have voicemail that can be forwarded to SimulScribe, SimulScribe will give you a personal voice mailbox number when you sign up. This is probably the simplest way to use the system. Give this number to your hearing friends, family, business contacts, retail stores, etc. to leave you voice messages.

If you have a cell phone with voice mail, SimulScribe will send you a message when you subscribe explaining how to forward your voice mail to SimulScribe’s servers instead of to your carrier’s. There may be costs involved when you do this, so be sure to check.

If you already have voice mail that is available through WAV files, these can be forwarded to Simulscribe. I personally use this option. This may be available at some workplaces where there are PBX phone setups. This can help especially in a large organization where your co-workers might not know you are deaf before calling you for the first time.

How accurate is the service?

I have received at least 100 messages and have found that the accuracy was very good, however other reviewers have found problems especially with more unusual names. When the word or name is not clear to the transcriber, it will sometimes make a guess at what the name was. Also, if there is a lot of background noise, or the message is not clear, the service will print the word “garbled”.

How much does SimulScribe cost?

As of September, 2007, a basic subscription to SimulScribe is $10/month, with an allowance of 40 messages per month. Additional messages cost $ .25 each. This could get expensive if you get a lot of voice mail messages. They are also offering an unlimited plan for $29.95/per month.

Can I try SimulScribe before I subscribe?

There is a one week free trial available. Check their website for more information.

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