The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) has launched a new digitisation program to help members who want to have material transcribed and encoded, (as reported in the JISC Digitisation blog).
Through the AccessTEI program, members can submit documents in different formats, from modern print to manuscript and in western and non-western character sets, and get these transcribed and encoded with TEI Tite markup at a discounted price. High costs may normally make such a service unavailable to many projects, or less feasible for smaller jobs, but this program may be a way to get round that. From the project website:
By pooling digitization projects from the TEI community together and taking advantage of the economies of scale presented by their use of a common encoding system, AccessTEI is able to offer TEI members the cost, quality benefits, and support usually reserved for larger individual projects.
Rather than paying to outsource manuscript transcription, some projects encourage voluntary participation (or crowdsourcing) using the TEI, like Transcribe Bentham – (you may read a blog post about their use of the TEI).
However TEI is such a special case. It must be very difficult to get a community to encode using the TEI unless they are very well trained, so replacing the AccessTEI program with a community effort may not be feasible. Also, ‘normal’ community transcription projects probably wouldn’t use TEI, so the AccessTEI service is of less interest to such ventures (and they may not be able to afford the membership fee anyway).