Hello, I’m Becky Barry, and I’m honoured to have been working over the course of 2020 with Scary Little Girls and Greenham Women Everywhere.
In a surreal year it has been just the tonic to work alongside an incredible group of women, led by the indefatigable Becca – someone I am more than proud to call a close friend.
I’ve been involved in a variety of different aspects of SLG and Greenham Women Everywhere’s work, but one of the main tasks I’ve been doing is transcribing into text the oral interviews by Greenham Women – which you can find here
Initially we started the transcription process in order to make the oral interviews more accessible to Deaf and hard of hearing (HOH) people. I am a passionate advocate for access in all its forms, but as a qualified BSL/English Interpreter, trying to improve and offer access for Deaf and HOH people is definitely a main focus. I am neither Deaf nor Disabled, so don’t advocate for access because of having lived experience – but rather because I don’t. It is all of our responsibility: if our work isn’t accessible, it’s immediately discriminatory. And that’s not okay.
Anyhow *pushes soapbox away*, back to the transcription process 😉
I have been involved in a lot of transcribing over the years, but it wasn’t until working on the Greenham interviews that I discovered Otter.ai (we’re not sponsored, but it is fab). Otter.ai is a transcription service, which meant I could upload an audio file, and would at some point receive a basic transcript back. These are never 100% perfect, and if there is any background noise at all, poor Otter is left swimming against the tide and can’t cope. However, the service was a fabulous starting point.
On receiving the file from Otter, I then read through the basic text of the transcript whilst listening to the interview, stopping and correcting spelling and grammar as much as required. All interviews are transcribed absolutely verbatim, but I’ve found use of punctuation is crucial to ensure the sense of what the women are saying comes across on the page.
On average, a finished transcript will take me between twice to three times as long to complete as the original duration of the interview e.g. if the interview is an hour, the transcript will take me between two to three to complete. That is very slow in professional transcription terms, but these interviews are so precious, they deserve that level of attention.
There are two things I’ve most loved about doing this work – the first being that I have been able to listen – rapt, to the Greenham Women speak. Their stories and experiences are all at once spellbinding, horrifying, galvanising and hilarious. The second is that a task we initially started in order to promote better access has had so many cross-disciplinary benefits. Access has absolutely been improved to these interviews (and there will be interviews in BSL from Deaf Greenham Women coming soon), but the transcripts have also been used in the making of a virtual Greenham Campfire online computer game, the writing of a book about Greenham Women, the writing of a song, and the spinning together of so many strands of the web.
So, if I may briefly hop onto that soapbox again, please put access on your agenda – in every sense. And if you don’t know how to, that’s okay – there are a plethora of highly skilled Deaf and Disabled professionals who can offer their expertise.
Oh, and perhaps my favourite thing about Otter is that if the word ‘Greenham’ is said very quickly, Otter will often mis-transcribe it as ‘Queendom’. You’re not wrong, Otter, you’re not wrong.