SPEAKER: Minori Arai (Senate of Canada)

TITLE: Attracting and Retaining Quality Talent at the Senate of Canada

ABSTRACT: The Senate of Canada has stenographic reporters to produce live captions (subtitling) in French and English in real time, and whose text is used to produce transcripts of committee and plenary meetings. The quality of our reporting staff and real-time captioning is established through a rigorous competition and testing process, and maintained through access to online as well as in-house skills-development tools. I propose to discuss the Senate of Canada’s competition process and how we attempt to engage the best candidates. 

Once hired, reporters undergo specialized training, which results in highly skilled and dedicated staff and, ultimately, high-quality captions. These excellent captions lend themselves to greater accessibility for hard-of-hearing audiences, and the search capabilities on the public website provide easy access to the general public to debates and the progress of legislation.

Thanks to the data management application developed in house at the Senate, transcripts are easily shared through social media platforms and contain links to videos of proceedings, enriching the value of both the broadcast video and the online version of the official report. The XML-based bilingual text is easily accessible and reusable by governmental and non-governmental organizations alike and greatly expands the possibilities for communications and outreach.

Although the Senate of Canada currently does not use respeaking, the challenges faced by its practitioners are similar to those of real-time reporters. The Senate is keenly interested in keeping abreast of the advancements in this technology and the opportunities it may offer the institution.

MINORI ARAI (minori.arai@sen.parl.gc.ca) Following university, Minori took her stenography training in Vancouver, Canada.  She worked for many years in the freelance, court and real-time accessibility fields.  After working at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Minori joined the Senate of Canada as a Parliamentary Reporter in 2006.  In 2015, Minori was the successful incumbent for the role of Assistant Managing Editor.  In that capacity, Minori also became the Product Owner of the XML system known as Iris, which was developed internally and has modernized and broadened the scope of what Debates and Publications offers to Senators and the Canadian public.  In her spare time, Minori cooks, knits, abuses golf balls and savours her charmed life.