NCRA member in local media for A to Z program

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyGood Morning Rochester, Rochester, N.Y., aired a piece on Sept. 19 that featured NCRA Director Meredith A. Bonn, RPR, an official court reporter from Webster. The story highlighted what Bonn does as well as emphasized the current need for court reporters and captioners. A second story that also featured Bonn provided insight into what it takes to enter the profession and included information about the A to Z programs she leads in her area.

Esquire finds court reporters predict progress for the profession

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyNCRA Immediate Past President Tiva P. Wood, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, was one of several professionals quoted about their predictions for the future of the profession in a press release issued on Sept. 19 by Esquire Deposition Solutions, Atlanta, Ga. Wood and others were interviewed during the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo held in August in Las Vegas, Nev.

Read more.

Overcoming your fear

By Linda A. Kaiser

What is fear? Webster’s defines fear as an unpleasant, often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. In the verb tense, fear is defined as to be afraid or apprehensive. I’d like us to focus on two words in each of those meanings: anticipation and apprehensive.

When you anticipate something, the outcome of that event can either be good or bad. At the conclusion of that event, the anticipation dissipates. To anticipate is to be active. You can either anticipate something with excitement or anticipate something with trepidation. You are in charge whether you put a positive or a negative spin on your anticipation. I suggest you go forward with an expectancy versus an expectation, thereby alleviating a possible disappointment due to your expectations.

To be apprehensive puts you in a position of being afraid, reluctant, thus holding you back and ultimately aversive.

I would like to help turn your fear and apprehension into motivation. Fear can be highly effective. We are taught at a young age that fear is something to take heed of, as in the instance of don’t touch the stove top or you’ll get burned. You are motivated to not touch the stove top so you don’t get burned.

I propose to you that the fear of realtiming is a fear you can overcome. Here are some basic steps that I utilize, even to this day, in my fight to overcome fears of realtiming.

I first start the day out with some “self” talk. I focus on my strengths and my abilities instead of focusing on where I perceive my weaknesses are. I spend ten minutes, before even rising, to pronounce to myself that I can conquer whatever may come my way that day.

As I enter whatever arena I am writing in that day, I am reminded of my “self” talk that morning and that I can proceed with confidence to tackle whatever comes. This confidence also encourages me to continue to educate myself about the ins and outs of realtiming. If I encounter a problem while setting everyone up, I then put into play the education I have about troubleshooting. While I am writing, I focus on what is translating correctly, but also take note on areas that may need some improvement. It’s at that point that I incorporate some of the tricks I’ve learned and incorporate those in helping me achieve a better translation rate. My improved skill set has opened up a vast amount of opportunities to stay alive in our great profession.

There is a method to this madness. To sum it up, “self” talk has built my confidence. It has built my desire for knowledge, which has built up my abilities, which has moved me into new opportunities.

Your method of madness may be slightly different. The key is to keep striving to find what works for you and to stay motivated to overcome fear.

Lastly, fear isn’t an emotion that will ever go away. You have the power to either let it reside in you or use the powers in you and work to conquer it. See where your empowerment will lead you.

Linda A. Kaiser, RMR, CRR, is an official in Cedar Hill, Texas. She can be reached at Lmarptr@aol.com.

Conquer your realtime mountain

If fear is what is stopping you from becoming proficient in realtime, all you may need is a little inspiration to conquer your fears. A quote frequently attributed to sales guru Zig Ziglar is: “F-E-A-R has two meanings: ‘Forget Everything And Run’ or ‘Face Everything And Rise.’ The choice is yours.” Let’s customize that for us to “Face everything and realtime.”

To help you do so, six reporters offer their takes on how to scale the heights of realtime and overcome your fears.

The fear factor, by Debra A. Levinson

Rise to the occasion, by Kristy Clark

The no excuses guide to conquering your fear, by Tammy Clark August

The thrill of the chase, by Mary B. Bader

Is your fear real or imagined? by Ron Cook

 Overcoming your fear, by Linda A. Kaiser

NCRA’s A to Z Intro to Machine Shorthand program sparks media interest

NCRA's Discover Steno: Explore. Consider. Learn

NCRA’s A to Z Intro to Machine Shorthand program, introduced last year, is steadily gaining interest by the public and the media. In addition to programs in more than 16 states, most recently media outlets in New York and Wisconsin highlighted the effort.

Good Morning Rochester, Rochester, N.Y., aired a piece on Sept. 19 that featured NCRA Director Meredith A. Bonn, RPR, an official court reporter from Webster. The story highlighted what Bonn does as well as emphasized the current need for court reporters and captioners. A second story that also featured Bonn provided insight into what it takes to enter the profession and included information about the A to Z programs she leads in her area.

On Sept. 14, WJFW Newswatch 12, Rhinelander, Wis., showcased NCRA member Lynn Penfield, RPR, CRR, an official court reporter from Harshaw, who will begin an A to Z program in October. The story notes that Penfield is running the program because she “considers [court reporting] the best job she’s ever had, and she wants to get more people interested in her field.”

NCRA Past President Nancy Varallo, FAPR, RDR, CRR, Worcester, Mass., developed the A to Z program to help those outside the profession experience steno by learning to write the basics. She graciously turned the program over to NCRA. Since then, NCRA’s Education Department has successfully worked at the grassroots level to promote the effort.

The six-to-eight week course is available at no cost to participants. Volunteer leaders host the sessions, and participants use loaner machines that have been donated by others in the profession.

To learn more about the A to Z Intro to Machine Steno program, visit NCRA.org/education or TheJCR.com/tag/a-to-z-program, or contact Cynthia Bruce Andrews at candrews@ncra.org.

NCRA attends CTC, keeps profession relevant

Set in a moderately busy vendor hall, two women in professional garb speak with a few men who are visiting the booth. One of the women is seated at a steno machine. On the table are flyers and propped up iPads.

NCRA President Christine J. Willette (seated) and NCRA Secretary-Treasurer Debra A. Dibble speak with attendees at the 2017 Court Technology Conference.

NCRA was proud to host a booth in the expo hall at the Court Technology Conference (CTC) held Sept. 12-14, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The National Center for State Courts holds the biennial conference, which is the world’s premier event showcasing the developments in court technology. The event draws more than 1,500 court professionals from around the nation.

Volunteers at the NCRA booth at this year’s CTC event included NCRA President Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC; Secretary-Treasurer Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC; Director of Professional Development Programs Cynthia Bruce Andrews; and Government Relations Manager Matthew Barusch. Other volunteers included:

  • Rockie Dustin, RPR, a freelancer in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Phoebe Moorhead, RPR, CRR, a freelancer in North Ogden, Utah
  • Laura Robinson, RPR, an official in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Laurie Shingle, RPR, CMRS, a freelancer in Pleasant View, Utah
  • Pattie Walker, RPR, an official in Holladay, Utah

The NCRA representatives used the opportunity to demonstrate to attendees the professional advantage of using stenographic court reporters as well as display the latest technology in realtime reporting. They also had the opportunity to speak to judges, IT professionals, and other court professionals.

“We experienced great interactions with court IT attendees. The lack of certified stenographic reporters to cover courts was a common theme expressed by many visitors to our booth. They’re really feeling the shortage,” said Willette. “They all love realtime. Many of them who use realtime said they can’t live without it. One judge called her reporter right on the spot to make sure they knew about realtime to the cloud,” she added.

The CTC serves as the venue for unveiling the latest developments in court technology to the court-professionals community, giving NCRA a prime opportunity to promote the gold standard of court reporting.

“The potentially monumental contacts that can be made at CTC are innumerable and invaluable in view of the broad expanse of crucial decision-makers who attend,” said Dibble. “We met with judges, attorneys, IT personnel, court reporters, and vendors of litigation services and technologies to court systems — everyone is looking for ways to be more effective in their roles to more efficiently execute the judicial process,” she added.

Willette and Dibble both agree that having the opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of stenographic court reporters to those charged with implementing court-technology services helps to open doors and inspire ideas to incorporate stenographic skills into the products they offer. Attending the CTC also helps to keep NCRA members relevant as technologies evolve.

“It is imperative that NCRA be a part of that solution-finding process and be visible to every facet of this field. We spent our time listening and learning about the interests and needs of attendees, then sharing with them how we can provide solutions to their needs and how our services create efficiencies to their processes,” Dibble said.

The next Court Technology Conference will be in September 2019 in New Orleans, La. For more information, visit ctc2017.org.

A to Z: Recruiting the next generation

A group of students sit in a circleBy Nancy Varallo

I want our time-honored profession to flourish into the future. I’m betting you do too.

I’ve been a freelance reporter, a teacher, an agency owner, president of NCRA, and have been involved in NCRA educational initiatives
for years. Here are two important takeaways from my experience:

• People still don’t know about our field (no surprise there) and its wonderful career opportunities.
• We need to screen applicants to court reporting programs to make sure we enroll students who have the best chance to succeed.

The solution might just be as simple as the A to Z Intro to Machine Shorthand program, a program you can teach in your own home or office, whether or not you’ve ever taught anything before. Teaching experience is not necessary. What’s necessary is your enthusiasm and a
willingness to devote some hours of your time to ensure a future for our profession.

Court reporting is a great field. It’s worth being enthusiastic about. When young people hear our story and suddenly realize what a great opportunity this is, they’re excited. The A to Z Intro to Machine Shorthand program channels that excitement to produce recruits for court reporting school who are excited about the prospect and have self-selected as the candidates most likely to succeed.

After rolling out the A to Z program myself in November of 2015 with a class of seven young people, I spread the word and got a wonderful response from my court reporting colleagues. Court reporters, most with no teaching experience, ran their own A to Z programs, with great success. Several enrollees from each group said they wanted to go to court reporting school. These were the individuals who had taken quickly to the machine, showing aptitude for it and eagerness to learn. That’s exactly the kind of students we need in court reporting school!

I realized my A to Z program was working. It was a hit! I brought it to NCRA, and it is now NCRA’s initiative.

Please think about running an eight-week A to Z Program yourself. NCRA has all the materials you will need. Reporters around the country who have run successful A to Z classes are available to help you get up and running. What’s the commitment on your part? The A to Z course materials are structured for eight three-hour sessions, i.e., three hours a week for eight weeks. No homework to collect, no tests to give. It’s as easy as … well, ABC.

In 24 hours, you can make a difference.

We’ll help you get steno machines for your students. You don’t need laptops or software. The idea is to expose as many young people as possible to the machine and then let them figure out themselves whether they like writing on the machine and perhaps want to enroll in a
court reporting program. Your enthusiasm goes a long way to help the talented candidates among your class grasp the opportunity being
shown to them and choose to go on to court reporting school.

If you’d like to talk to other court reporters who have run A to Z programs, contact us at NCRA.org/discoversteno/teach. There’s program information and sign-up forms there. A to Z is a community-based initiative. Use your friends and neighbors in your community to assemble a class. Post flyers in your local high school, at the dry cleaner’s, the library, the supermarket. Advertise in your town newspaper. Use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Schedule classes in your home, or in a local venue such as a church, school, library, court reporting agency. You just need a small classroom once a week.

I’m thrilled with A to Z – because it works! Reports of success are coming in from all over the country. You can be a part of that success!

Nancy Varallo, FAPR, RDR, CRR is an agency owner in Massachusetts. She is NCRA’s 2017 Distinguished Service Award recipient. You can reach her at Nancy.Varallo@TheVaralloGroup.com.

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Creating our own success

Thanks to the leaders who have already hosted A to Z programs

 

A to Z: Creating our own success

A group of students sit in a circle

You don’t need to take Nancy Varallo’s word for it. We have heard from several of the A to Z program leaders about their experiences.

“It is my very strong opinion that this program is the key and the missing link to the shortage of students in our schools. I believe our Steno A to Z students will be strong, successful students who start way ahead of the game. Whatever needs to be done to expand the number of attendees needs to be done. It is purely a numbers game. Only a percentage will go on, so the higher number of people that participate, the better,” says Meredith Bonn, RPR, who is an official in Rochester, N.Y., and was recently installed on NCRA’s Board of Directors.

Bonn has taught three groups of trainees, about 25 people, so far. “The one high school student I have had so far, who is a musician, was able to learn it the quickest and fastest,” she says.

“Two out of our seven participants have now enrolled in accredited court reporting programs in Wisconsin! Another person is very seriously looking into signing up for fall classes,” says Lori Baldauf, RMR, an official reporter based in Appleton, Wis. “All seven students arrived on time and attended each class — with just a couple excused absences — and obviously worked hard to learn the material.”

“I think this A to Z program is one of the best projects NCRA has shared with its members and I’m grateful to have had this opportunity to lead a group in the Fox River Valley area of Wisconsin,” continues Baldauf. “I’d like to personally urge other reporters across the country to get more sessions started in their area as well!”

Kathy May, RPR, a freelancer and agency owner based in Memphis, Tenn., has only just begun recruiting trainees but considers what they have accomplished so far a success. “We set up a booth at our court reporting conference in June promoting the program, and from that we received donations of paper as well as the offer to loan machines,” says May. “We even had a reporter express an interest in putting together a program for her market.”

When asked for advice for other program leaders, Baldauf says: “Simply share your enthusiasm and sincere adoration for your profession! It’s contagious and will motivate your students to succeed in the program.”

“Set the expectations for the participants so they understand they cannot miss a week with lots of notice before they begin and so they can plan. Make-up sessions are too difficult and time-consuming,” says Bonn.

“Surround yourself with great reporters to help,” says Lois McFadden, RDR, CRR, an official from Marlton, N.J. “The volunteers who helped were so great. They really committed themselves to the program, and other reporters jumped in to fill in for vacations. Without the support and commitment of the instructors and the reporting firm that lent us office space, it would not have been possible.”

Rivka Teich, RMR, a freelancer based in Brooklyn, N.Y., says: “Accept more than the recommended 10 students, because just like real court reporting school; there is a drop-out rate. I had 12 people sign up, 10 people show up, and 4 people finish.”

“Start planting the seeds well in advance of offering the program. We have prepared flyers that are letting our markets know that there will be a free program coming soon. We have already gotten several names of people who are looking forward to the program,” says May. She adds that program leaders should understand that it’s important to talk about what you are doing and leverage the power of word of mouth. She says: “You never know who might know someone who knows someone who would be perfect for this profession. We just have to
find them!”

The Wisconsin Court Reporters Association used Facebook as one means of reaching potential participants. The organization also contacted the guidance offices of local high schools and emailed blasts to members asking them to reach out and network in their communities, according to Baldauf.

McFadden agrees that using Facebook is key but adds: “We have gotten leads from NCRA [and from] calls to our executive director. We also had success posting flyers in local courthouses.”

“Talk about A to Z with everyone! Your friends and family can be great A to Z messengers. Before your first class, practice on friends or family members. I had two high school seniors in my office for four days of immersion/mentoring/shadowing in a professional office. In addition to taking them to court to observe, they became my first A to Z students. Have fun rediscovering your early days of the wonder and newness of steno,” says May. “It’s infectious.”

RELATED:

A to Z: Recruiting the next generation

Thanks to the leaders who have already hosted A to Z programs

Equihacked

mirrored images of computer code written in green on a black background

Photo by Cheryl Pellerin | Dept. of Defense

By Christine Phipps

Equifax announced in September that they discovered a data breach on July 29, that occurred mid-May through July, which affects 143 million Americans.

The hackers were able to access the Equifax data through a security flaw in the Equifax website. In a Sept. 7 post on krebsonsecurity.com, security expert Brian Krebs said, “Equifax may have fallen behind in applying security updates to its internet-facing Web applications. Although the attackers could have exploited an unknown flaw in those applications, I would fully expect Equifax to highlight this fact if it were true – if for no other reason than doing so might make them less culpable and appear as though this was a crime which could have been perpetrated against any company running said Web applications.” The Fort Knox of our identity information was asleep at the wheel.

While this isn’t the largest breach, it’s one of the most serious because the hackers accessed names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers. These are the essential elements to take out loans, open credit-card accounts, and more.

Visit equifaxsecurity2017.com to find out if you were affected by clicking on the “Potential Impact” button. Make sure you are on a secure computer (not a hotel or public computer) and are using a secure internet connection (not a public network like a local coffee shop, etc.). Equifax is offering free credit monitoring, identity theft insurance, and other items for those affected. I have always had credit monitoring so that I receive alerts in balance increases and decreases, new accounts, and credit inquiries. If you do not have a system of monitoring in place, I would strongly suggest you do so.

Christine Phipps, RPR, is a freelancer and agency owner in North Palm Beach, Fla., and a member of the NCRA Board of Directors. She can be reached at christine@phippsreporting.com.

Highlights from the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo: A student’s experience

Four young women pose in matching light blue shirts with steno written on the front

MacCormac students wear matching shirts at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo: (l-r) Ariel Kraut, Brianna Uhlman, Marissa Loring, and Hailey Treasure

By Ariel Kraut

I am very appreciative for the time I got to spend at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas. What a fun and vibrant location for court reporters to come together and connect as a community!

On our first day, we visited the Expo Hall and got to explore many innovations in reporting technology. Things that I never even thought of, like ergonomic machines, different types of travel bags, all kinds of software, and much more, were on display. We got some great swag and were able to connect with vendors from all types of companies related to the field. I loved the neon light-up writer!

It was amazing to see all of the different types of new technology associated with the Stenograph machines knowing that I will soon be purchasing my own when I finish school. I really enjoyed watching a demonstration involving the audio-recording capabilities of the Luminex writer. Not only can you direct it to go back to the last question you asked in a testimony dictation, but the audio-sync feature allows you to listen to the actual dictation in addition to seeing the question on your screen. If only I had that available during tests!

My favorite part of the Convention was the being able to speak with reporters from all different fields. It was exciting to have so many people come up to us, knowing that we were students, and introduce themselves. All of the pros were so warm and welcoming to us. People from all over the country were so happy to see us students and had nothing but the most encouraging things to say. I even spoke with the President of NCRA multiple times and felt great about it. It was inspiring to see that many of the people we spoke with actually won awards for the Speed and Realtime Contests and were honored during the luncheon.

An especially good time for networking was in the “Steno Speed Dating” part of the first day of the student track. We got to sit with very successful reporters, including speed contest winners, realtime writers, captioners, and even a court reporter who worked in the House of Representatives. It is inspiring to see the places that this career can take you if you apply yourself. I also appreciated hearing about these professionals’ school experiences and what the biggest struggles were for each of them. I got some practice tips and some great advice as to how I can clean up my notes and build my speed at the same time.

Another very beneficial session was “Business of Being a Court Reporter.” There, we got to see a mock deposition take place with a panel of professional reporters pausing to explain certain parts of the process. They would also tell us what they would do if something unusual would happen and frequent issues that may come up on the job.

I am very thankful that I was able to attend this Convention as I found it reinvigorating for me as a student. School can be stressful sometimes, but seeing all of these successful women and men in the field made me feel like I was on the right track and I have a great life to look forward to in this field.

Ariel Kraut is a student at MacCormac College in Chicago, Ill. She can be reached at akraut@maccormac.edu.

Read “Finding court reporters’ paradise” by MacCormac student Brianna Uhlman