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It's a Matter of Ethics
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It's a Matter of Ethics

by Brittany Donnell, CET



"Moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior"

This is how the Oxford University Press defines the word ethics. Ethics? That's not a word that comes to mind every day, but it should. Or maybe the "thing" we call ethics is really our conscience, and most people know what a conscience is. When ethical or unethical situations pop up, how will we respond to them? Here are some excerpts from the AAERT Code of Ethics which are good to keep in mind, not just in our jobs as transcribers, but also as individuals:

"Always conduct yourself in a manner reflecting the highest integrity of the electronic reporting and transcribing profession. Be fair and impartial toward each participant in a proceeding. Be truthful and accurate at all times." (AAERT Code of Ethics)

We have serious job duties. It astounds me the amount of responsibility we have as transcribers. We learn many details about someone's life and the events that are part of their lives. Knowing that the burden is on our shoulders to produce an accurate transcript can be both a privilege and a weight.

What I often think about is that the people in the cases we transcribe deserve our utmost respect, even though we are not present in the courtroom and will never see these people face to face. If the roles were reversed and we were parties in a case, wouldn't we want someone on the other end to be respectful of us and our most private matters? I think so.

"Preserve the confidentiality and ensure the security of information, oral or written. Do not discuss remarks heard on or off the record with anyone. Keep all assignments strictly confidential." (AAERT Code of Ethics)

Since I've started writing this article, I've become more aware of how critical and important this ethical standard can be. I've tried to think about protecting someone's privacy, using only Mr. Last Name, or so forth, if talking to another transcriber about the case. If I were in their shoes, I would hope that someone would strictly observe this standard and do their best to protect my privacy and the events that have occurred in my life.

"Keep abreast of current literature, technological advances and developments, and participate in continuing education programs. Strive to further knowledge and skill through participation in workshops, professional meetings, and interaction with colleagues." (AAERT Code of Ethics)

Another helpful reference for the transcriber to keep in mind is the AAERT member website. It is a resource for furthering your skills and to connect to others in this field. The website offers many ways to obtain CEUs, which we all want, and an abundance of information related to our industry.

There are a multitude of situations we find ourselves in daily where a decision must be made that impacts our work product. Thinking about those situations has certainly made me more aware of my own conduct as I do my job. The AAERT Code of Ethics categorizes areas of caution as Conduct, Confidentiality and Commitment. Study the Code and apply it to your work. Your reputation as a transcriber and court reporter can be molded by those standards. Remember. It's a matter of ethics.

To learn more about AAERT's established Code of Ethics, navigate to this link:

Brittany Donnell holds her CET designation from AAERT. She lives in Princeton, Missouri. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family, singing in her local choir, reading, and traveling. Brittany can be reached at


Brittany Donnell, CET




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