Not all captioners use a special keyboard (a stenograph machine) but it is necessary with live captioning. On a qwerty keyboard, you cannot keep up with the spoken word. A good typist does, what, 90 wpm? On a stenograph machine, it is possible to do over 200 wpm. A stenograph machine is what court reporters use to transcribe court proceedings.
I did offline captioning with a regular keyboard.
Now, stenography is an amazing thing, with its own language and yes, a keypad very different than a computer keyboard. I don’t think that I’ll be able to accurately label it here (I think the message board program may move some of this) but this is the general outline:
The asterisk is in the middle, and the letters listed above are underneath one another (S is both top and bottom key on the left, the T is above the K, the P is above the W, the H is above the R, the A and O keys are under the HR and asterisk.) The F is above the R, the P is above the B and so forth.
You’ll notice the entire alphabet is not present on either side. That is because key combinations produce different letters. Hitting “PW” on the left means “b”. “TPH” means “n”. And on the right, hitting “FP” creates the “ch” sound.
In stenography, words are written left to right, and it may take more than one “stroke” to get a whole word out. Like the word stenograph itself is “STEN/GRAF”. On the keypad, that’s S-T-E-P-B
(st on the left, e in the middle, pb on the right makes an “n”) and then from the left again, TKPW makes a “g”-R-A-F.
There are a lot of “briefs” and “outlines” that cut down on a person’s typing time. Hitting T on the left and S on the right at the same time makes “It is”. Or, this gem: STURN. That means “State your name.”
All words can be constructed properly with a stenograph machine.