What’s your angle?

The late blues musician Albert King was known for simply flipping his guitar and playing upside down in order to strike the bass E-string at the top if the instrument, while icon rocker the late Jimi Hendrix used right-handed guitars but re-strung them for left-hand playing to create his legendary sound.

In the court reporting and captioning field, veteran court reporter Tami Frazier, RMR, CRR, an official from Murrieta, Calif., tilts her steno machine away from her for better comfort and to ensure quick and accurate strokes in her daily work.

Dubbed the Tami Tilt by many of her peers, the JCR Weekly reached out to Frazier to learn more about her signature steno machine slant. We also followed up with Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter and agency owner from North Brunswick, N.J., and a close friend of Frazier’s to learn more about how she has inspired him to use the Tami Tilt.

JCR | What is the Tami Tilt?
TF | Well, Rich Germosen dubbed it that. Rich is known for giving descriptive pet names to people and things. What would the court reporting world do without him? I actually call myself the ‘OG Tilter.’

JCR | How long have you used the Tami Tilt in your reporting and how did using it come about?
TF | I believe I’ve been tilting my writer away from me since the late 1990s. I don’t remember not tilting. Originally I used a tilting adapter head that attached onto my regular tripod. I was off work for five years with hand injuries, so I came back looking for different ways to keep me from going out again. It’s been so long ago that I can’t even remember how I learned about the tilting tripod. I know it felt so much better on my hands immediately after I started tilting. Before the tilting head, I would lean my writer back and support it with my legs. Pain relief followed.

JCR | What were the comments from your peers when you first started writing with your machine tilted like this?
TF | “Your writer looks like it’s going to fall over.” “You write like that?” “That’s crazy.” My writer was quite the spectacle in the speed contest rooms. Everyone used to just shake their head at me like I was nuts. “Why in the world do you write like that?”

I was the only “tilter” for a long time. Then Alan Brock, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Boston, Mass., competes one year tilting towards him. I then understood the perplexed looks I had received the previous years. I didn’t understand why anyone would want to tilt their writer towards them. Alan won the speed contest with the forward tilt that first year I saw him tilt, so the forward tilt definitely worked for him.

Tilting away, along with using the Report-It on my lap, always felt like it kept my wrists straight and stretched out. Tilting towards my body, my hands would feel jammed, and my wrists would break upwards and definitely not be straight.

JCR | You taught your sons Clay and Chase steno. Did you teach them to use the Tami Tilt as well?
TF | Both Clay and Chase do tilt away from their bodies. They did pick that up from me. Chase uses the Report-It with his tilt. No Report-It for Clay. I think it is actually pretty shocking how similarly we write. Our hands look very similar. Frazier hand genes might be a thing.

What you might not know is I am presently training my youngest son (and other Champion Steno students) to write. Cade is 16, soon to be 17, and he is starting to rattle 140s. He doesn’t tilt. That might be because he has a titanium rod from the very top of his back to the top of his tailbone. He mostly leans way back in his chair, so I’m not sure the tilt would work for him. He has used a Report-It, though, since about the second day of theory class.

JCR | What are the benefits of using the tilt? Does it help you write longer, keep your fingers more nimble, less tiring on your hands?
TF | It definitely helps me write longer. It helps keep my wrists straight. My hands and fingers don’t feel jammed up at all. I don’t think I would still be able to work if I hadn’t been tilting away and using my Report-It all these years.

JCR | Why do you think it has grown in popularity?
TF | I’m actually shocked how long it took to catch on. When I first started competing, the other contestants would tell me my writer looked like it was about to fall over. “You really write like that?” Nobody really asked why. I think it looked scary to everybody. Now it seems it’s strange if you don’t tilt.

I still look at the writers who tilt toward their bodies and wonder why in the world you would ever do that, and then I remember, once again, Alan Brock winning the speed contest with the forward tilt. It’s hard to argue with those results.


Rich Germosen using Tami Tilt

JCR | How did you hear about the Tami tilt?
RG| I saw Tami and probably a few others tilting a few years ago…probably at the 2013 NCRA Convention & Expo in Nashville, Tenn.

JCR | What were your thoughts when you first saw someone using it?
RG | I thought it was very strange and for some odd reason did not consider doing it until either 2016 or 2017.

“My Luminex tilted ALL THE WAY just for show.  I don’t it tip all the way at work.” – Rich Germosen

JCR | Has it made a difference in the way you write? How so?
RG | Either a year or two ago, I just tilted the writer since others were doing it and I did have the tilting tripod. It seemed a tad easier to write with it tilted and I took to it right away. I haven’t looked back since and just purchased the V2 tripod that tilts even more.

JCR | Does it help you write longer, keep your fingers more nimble, less tiring on your hands?
RG | I’m not really sure if it helps me to write longer amounts of time or not. I just know it feels better to write this way.

JCR | Why do you think it has grown in popularity?
RG | Some reporters are posting pictures of their tilt and others are curious I would imagine and want to give it a try, and I imagine it’s helping some with wrist/hand fatigue.

 

Editor’s note: Recently the Frazier family tilted their way to victory in the 2018 California Speed Contest. Clay Frazier, RMR, CRR; an official court reporter from Los Angeles earned first place followed by Tami, who took second place, and Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Murrieta, Calif., earned fourth.

How to file a captioning complaint with the Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) encourages feedback from television viewers. According to the FCC, a complaint is a form of feedback, and the Commission wants feedback from viewers. Any television viewer who cares about captioning quality is encouraged to file a complaint whenever they see poor captioning, and you can easily file a complaint from the fcc.gov website.

Many television stations are now using machine captioning as opposed to human captioning or simply the teleprompter. Several companies provide machine captioning to the television stations. These companies and their products are IBM (Watson), ENCO (enCaption3 and 4),  Link (ACE Encoders), and EEG (Lexi).

To file a complaint, we suggest you focus on accuracy, which is one of the four tenets of captioning quality established by the FCC in 2014 (the others are synchronicity, completeness, and placement).

To be accurate, captions must reflect the dialogue and other sounds and music in the audio track to the fullest extent possible based on the type of the programming. Accuracy also requires captions to identify the speakers. We find that automatic captioning violates this standard in many ways:

  • Punctuation: Machine captioning provides limited, or wrong, punctuation.
  • Speaker identification: Machine captioning does not identify speakers with >> or names, often including captions from multiple speakers in the same line.
  • Lyrics and Sound Effects: The FCC Caption Quality best practices clearly state that lyrics and sound effects much be included when measuring accuracy. Engines don’t.
  • Proper Nouns:  Proper nouns are a problem with many engines, especially those not properly trained.

When you watch television programming, keep these criteria in mind, and make notes of any errors in these areas that you see. Try to take photos or record video on your phone to upload with your complaint. In the complaint form provided by the FCC, you will be asked to elucidate the errors and mistakes that you see. You may also attach a screen shot or video showing what you are making a complaint about.

When you open the complaint form provided by the FCC, you need to fill in the following fields.

  • Your email address
  • Subject of the complaint (e.g.: [Station] does not meet FCC quality standards)
  • Description of the complaint (detail the specific instances)
  • Accessibility issues (choose “Closed Captioning on TV” for TV programs)

Once you choose your accessibility issue, additional fields will appear. Those with an asterisk are mandatory.

  • *Preferred method of response: The FCC and the station have to respond to your complaints. This will allow you to choose what medium they use to do so. Your options are email, fax, letter, other, relay service, telephone, and TTY.
  • Name of company complaining about: Enter the name of the specific station.
  • City of company complaining about: Enter the city in which the station is located. For national feeds, you may need to look up the station online.
  • State of company complaining about
  • ZIP code of company complaining about
  • Phone number of company complaining about
  • *Date of your issue: you must enter an actual date, even if the problem is continuous.
  • *Time of your issue
  • *Your TV method (cable, satellite, fiber, internet, over the air)
  • *Name of subscription service (your cable company)
  • TV channel
  • Call sign
  • Network
  • Name of TV program
  • *City where program was viewed
  • *State where program was viewed
  • *Your first name
  • *Your last name
  • *Address 1
  • Address 2
  • *City
  • *State
  • *ZIP
  • *Phone
  • *Filing on behalf of someone? (yes/no)
  • Attachments: Include here any photos or video you may have taken of the captioning errors

After you complete and submit the complaint to the FCC, the FCC will evaluate the complaints and contact you if more details are provided. After this, they generally reach out to the programmer or TV station. At that point, the station may also contact you, to compile their response to the FCC. This can take 30-60 days. When you receive these responses, please forward them to NCRA’s Government Relations Manager Matt Barusch at mbarusch@ncra.org, for record keeping.

NCRA believes that machine captioning is not ready for live television programming or any other live events. We know the companies behind this technology will keep working to improve their products. NCRA is committed to providing the best possible access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

NPR sued for lacking closed captioning on videos

AllAccess.com reported on Oct. 15 that National Public Radio is being sued by a man who claims the network discriminates against the deaf and hard-of-hearing by not providing closed captioning of videos on its NPR.org website.

Read more.

Without captions, warnings about Hurricane Michael failed to reach disabled

Radio station WSAU based in Wausau and Stevens Point, Wis., posted an article on Oct. 13, about Oscar-winning deaf actress Marlee Matlin’s reaction to no captioning being provided on warning videos about Hurricane Michael posted on the internet by the Weather Company.

Read more.

Captioner is listed as one of eight amazing jobs for early careerists

A blog posted on Oct. 9 by Glassdoor.com names captioning as one of eight top jobs for early careerists to consider. The blog notes that the profession offers flexible schedules and more.

Read more.

Report from the FCC’s Disability Advisory Committee meeting

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) met on Oct. 3 for the last meeting of their second term. This committee comprises organizations in the telecommunications and accessibility realms and provides recommendations on accessibility regulations for the full commission. NCRA has participated for many years in this committee as subcommittee members of the Video Programming subcommittee, which occasionally crafts recommendations on captioning regulations and best practices for the full committee to consider. In attendance at this meeting were NCRA President Sue Terry, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC; Board Member Steve Clark, CRC; members Kelly Linkowski, RPR, CRR, CRC, CPE, and Darlene Parker, FAPR, RPR; and NCRA’s Government Relations Manager Matthew Barusch. The meeting was captioned by a live captioner, with captions shown in the room and streamed on the Web, along with StreamText captions.

Much of the agenda for this meeting was dedicated to consideration and approval of recommendations from other subcommittees, as well as a robust discussion on methods to increase consumer engagement. However, a portion of the meeting was dedicated to a review of possible topics of consideration for the DAC’s next term. Included on this list is the issue of automatic speech recognition, including the possible development of technology-neutral captioning quality metrics. As stated by Will Schell, Advising Attorney for the FCC’s Disability Rights Office, the recommendation is for the committee to “explore opportunities and challenges of developing technology-neutral metrics for closed captioning quality, with an eye toward facilitating objective comparisons between different captioning technologies, including automatic speech recognition, in terms of their ability to yield accuracy, completeness, synchronicity, and placement.”

Barusch gave a short speech towards the end of the meeting, reaffirming NCRA’s interest in this topic and commitment to assisting in the development of such metrics.

“Given the rise of ASR usage, especially in the broadcast captioning industry, this topic is particularly important for the DAC to consider,” Barusch said. “We have a number of concerns that this technology is not ready or able to meet the standards set by the FCC in 2014 and feel that it is being implemented to the detriment of consumers.”

Visit the FCC’s Disability Advisory Committee page for more information.

NCRA member recognized by International Association of Women

​​The International Association of Women announced in a press release issued Sept. 25 that the organization has recognized NCRA member Jennifer Schuck, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, as a 2018-2019 Influencer.

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Is court reporting the career for you?

Ms. Career Girl posted an article on Sept. 27 about the benefits of choosing court reporting as a career. The article mentions NCRA and the growing need for people to enter the court reporting and captioning professions.

Read more.

FCC’s Disability Advisory Committee meeting announced

The Federal Communications Commission’s Disability Advisory Committee meets on October 3. NCRA’s Government Relations Manager Matthew Barusch; NCRA Board Member Steve Clark, CRC; and NCRA President Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, will attend this meeting and will raise the issue of Sinclair Broadcast Group using IBM Watson Captioning. If you are planning to attend this meeting in Washington, D.C., next week, please contact Matthew Barusch at mbarusch@ncra.org for important information!

Read more.

Captioning word of the month: Flea flicker

 

Steve Clark

Below is the fifth in a series of monthly featured words to help captioners build their dictionaries and knowledge. The words for this series are being provided by Steve Clark, CRC, a captioner from Washington, D.C. Clark captions for Home Team Captions and covers the Baltimore Ravens NFL team  and the Washington Nationals baseball team. Clark also co-chairs NCRA’s Broadcast and CART Captioning Committee.

Our term this month, flea flicker, comes from football.  In the origin note below is a direct quote from SI.com telling us who is credited with creating this play and with coining the phrase.


Flea Flicker
(football)

Definition

In football, a flea flicker is a trick play that is designed to fool the defensive team into thinking that the play is a run instead of a pass.

After the ball is snapped to the quarterback, he then hands off or laterals (a sideways or backwards pass) the football to a teammate, who then runs towards or parallel to the line of scrimmage. Before the running back crosses the line of scrimmage, he laterals the football back to the quarterback, who then looks for an eligible receiver downfield to throw a pass to.

If the defensive players think this is a running play, they will leave their defensive positions guarding against the pass to run upfield and cover the running back, leaving the quarterback free from any immediate pass rush, and leaving receivers potentially open to catch a pass.

Usage     

“Brady with the lateral to Moss, Moss back to Brady.  They’re going for the flea flicker!”

Origin

From SI.com: “The play and its name are both credited to legendary University of Illinois coach Bob Zuppke, who intended the phrase to evoke the quick, flicking action of a dog getting rid of fleas.”  According to Coach Zuppke, he introduced the flea flicker while coaching at Oak Park High School in 1910.