HLAA kicks off the 2018 Walk4Hearing

 

Bethesda, MD: The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), Bethesda, Md., announced in a press release issued April 23, that the organization has launched its 2018 Walk4Hearing program. The Walk4Hearing raises awareness of hearing loss and provides strategies and information on topics such as hearing loss prevention, the importance of getting your hearing screened, treatment of hearing loss, and maintaining good hearing health.

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LADB expands captioning services, adds industry vet Schuster

M&E Daily reported on April 24 that digital media and content services facility Los Angeles Distribution & Broadcasting (LADB) has named closed captioning specialist Deborah Schuster as its new EVP of accessibility services, a role that will see her spearheading LADB’s expansion into the live captioning business.

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Captioners: Olympians captioning Olympians

Andrea Couch, RDR, CRR, CRC

Ask any captioner and they’ll tell you the most exciting thing about their jobs is the variety of assignments they get. From providing CART in a university classroom to captioning for live theater, each assignment is as varied as the preparation it calls for. The JCR Weekly recently reached out to NCRA member Andrea Couch, RDR, CRR, CRC, owner of Associated Reporting & Video in Boise, Idaho, about her work captioning the Olympic Games. Here’s what she shared.

JCR | How long have you worked as a captioner?
Couch | I worked as a captioner from 2006 until 2011.

JCR | Which Olympics have you captioned?
Couch | I captioned the 2008 summer Olympic Games and the 2010 winter Olympic Games. I was fortunate enough to have been assigned to caption both the summer and winter games, so I got to caption a wide variety of Olympic sports. In the 2008 Olympics, I remember I captioned women’s volleyball, archery, baseball, basketball, triathlon, weightlifting, rowing, diving, and swimming. In the 2010 winter Olympics, I captioned alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsled, luge, skeleton, ice hockey, speed skating, and curling.

JCR | How did you prepare for this assignment?
Couch | It was an enormous undertaking to prepare to caption the Olympic Games. The way scheduling worked when I captioned the Olympics, I would be assigned a two-hour block of time. All of the Olympic Games were aired on NBC and its affiliate networks, so I would go to their website to see what events would be broadcast during my two-hour block. The problem was, there would only be very generic descriptions with a list of maybe 10 different events that might possibly be aired during those two hours, but if something more exciting popped up, they would immediately jump to that.

So for a two-hour block, it may say that they were going to air part of a women’s volleyball game, cycling, men’s diving, some women’s weightlifting, and synchronized swimming, and you would be given general details about which countries’ athletes may be participating. So for that two-hour block, the prep was enormous to get all of your bases covered.

I remember when I was captioning the 2008 summer games, I made it through my first two-hour block, and they aired everything they said they were going to: a women’s volleyball game, some cycling, some synchronized swimming; everything that I had prepped for. I was feeling pretty good about myself! And then all of a sudden, with 20 minutes left in my two-hour block, they decided to switch to men’s rowing, an event they had given absolutely no indication that they would be airing. Of course, there were no Americans in the race (that would be far too easy). Every single race participant had a last name that I swear was 20 letters long with no vowels. So I found myself finger spelling every single name in that race for the last 20 minutes of my block. Ten years later, I still develop a facial tick when anyone mentions men’s rowing.

The other incredibly challenging part about captioning the Olympics is that the prep material is so vast. Not only do you have to prep for the specific events happening during the times you are assigned to caption, you also need to keep up on who has won medals that day and who will be competing later in the coming days because during transitions from sport to sport, they will always give a recap of what’s been happening and what’s coming up.

And then there are the human interest pieces that they jump to about an athlete who grew up in a tiny village deep in the heart of some country you’ve never even heard of, and they throw out names of relatives and close friends and geographic locations where the athlete has trained for their sport, all of which you have received absolutely no prep material for.

There is also an incredible amount of prep work to be done about the country hosting the Olympics, all of the prior countries where the Olympics have been held, and the countries where the Olympics are set to be held in the future. It’s also imperative that you make sure you have in your dictionary the names of past Olympians who have competed and won in each sport because you never know when their names might pop up. You also must prep for each commentator involved in the event you are captioning as they are often past Olympic athletes themselves and will talk about their experience in the Olympics: where they competed, who they competed against, etc.

JCR | What was the most exciting part of this assignment for you?
Couch | Well, to state the obvious, it’s the Olympics! It’s history in the making! It’s intense competition highlighting the sheer will and determination of these amazing athletes to stop at nothing to accomplish their goals. Throughout my career, I have always enjoyed competing in speed and realtime contests, and so I always felt I shared the same mentality as these competitors, albeit on a much smaller scale. That drive to work tirelessly to be the absolute best you can be at whatever it is that you do is an amazing thing to watch unfold before your eyes. There are no words to express what it feels like to play a role in the broadcasting of these events to the world.

JCR | How was this job different from other captioning assignments you have had? For example, what was the stress level if any?
Couch | Oh, my goodness, the stress level. There is just nothing quite as intense as knowing that the entire world is watching your work. Sure, that’s the case most any day you’re on the air as a captioner. But the Olympics, that is the greatest stage of them all. It was both one of the most stressful things I have ever done but also the most rewarding and exhilarating. There is absolutely nothing better than pushing yourself to the limits of your abilities and coming out victorious. Although, I must be honest with you, after that incident when they switched to men’s rowing and I had to finger spell every name for the last 20 minutes of that block, I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “Oh, my heavens. Please just put me back on the Weather Channel!”

Reporters who caption the Olympics truly are Olympians themselves. Every year I watch the Olympics with my captions turned on, and I stand in absolute awe at what my colleagues are capable of. It is truly astounding the skills and abilities that we have. The training that we do to be able to accomplish such feats is incredibly similar to that of each one of those competitors. We train our whole lives for this, constantly improving and never settling for “good enough.” We invest endless hours of hard work, tears, frustration, picking ourselves up and dusting ourselves off after a hard day to make ourselves the best at what we do so that when we reach the biggest stage of them all, we can perform at such incredibly high levels of proficiency. What an amazing skill we possess!

JCR | Is there anything else you would like to add?
Couch | I captioned for five years, and it was the best thing I ever could have done. It improved my writing immensely, it changed my perspective on how I write and why I write the way I do, and it gave me a hunger to never stop challenging myself. That experience has opened incredible doors for me throughout my career, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity that was given to me.

Yes, captioning is very difficult. But the rewards you receive from making that leap are vast and immeasurable. Have you always wanted to be a captioner? Do it! Take the leap. Sign up for training. Work on your realtime. Challenge yourself to always be better. You just might find yourself captioning the Olympics someday. The hard work is absolutely worth the reward. No question about it.

VITAC captions quest for the Stanley Cup

The Sports Video Group reported on April 18 that VITAC Captions will provide captioning for the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup playoff games.

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Overcoming challenges: An interview with Kim Falgiani

Kim Falgiani, RMR, CRC

Kim Falgiani, RMR, CRC, became a court reporter in 1980 and then became a broadcast captioner in 2002. After some years in broadcast captioning, she went through a series of medical situations, including tendinitis, that derailed her career and nearly ended it. She shared her story of how she overcame these challenges and offered some advice for reporters and captioners to stay at the physical top of their game.

JCR | What challenge have you overcome to be a successful captioner?

FALGIANI | Captioners must overcome many challenges in their careers. Longevity, professional fulfillment, and reasonable compensation are the goals. Everyone wants to be paid what they’re worth.

The obvious answer, which is true for every successful captioner, is the transition into quality realtime writing, staying relevant and updated in the profession, and keeping up with new technology. For me, the most difficult obstacle I had to overcome was tendinitis. Rehabilitation was a long-term process. Ultimately, I had to:

  • complete rehab successfully
  • regain my speed and confidence
  • regain my certifications
  • upgrade my software, paying back
    software support
  • upgrade my computer system and phones
  • renew my referral sources to find jobs as
    an independent contractor

JCR | How did this challenge make captioning difficult for you?

FALGIANI | The solution for tendinitis is rest, so I could no longer write. Recovery time surely varies, but it may stretch into months; it took me 14 months of rehabilitation to recover from bilateral wrist tendinitis, bilateral elbow tendinitis, shoulder tendinitis, adhesive capsulitis, and a strained neck. Within a few months of slowly beginning to write again, as an independent contractor now instead of an employed broadcast captioner, I suffered a dislocated shoulder and spiral-fractured my upper humerus. I chose a nonsurgical route with that break, so the rehab was a bit longer.

JCR | What strategies or changes did you use to overcome this challenge?

FALGIANI | I needed to find a way to stay informed and relevant in the profession. At that point in time, I had 30 years of progressing through our field as an official, freelancer, business owner, and then a broadcast captioner. I looked for a way to offer my skills without writing. I consulted on captioning programs, advisory committees, anything to not lose the “pulse” of the captioning field.

Everything I did while rehabbing led to me becoming a better and more health-conscious writer. I say better writer because I was always very stroke-intensive, so I began to incorporate writing techniques that reduced my stroke counts, better theory, and things like that.

Instead of captioning, or any writing at all, I started looking into how to help educate future court reporters and captioners. Fortunately, I was hired to be part-time adjunct faculty in a court reporting program in my state during healing time. After about another year of rehab, I began to edit realtime files for quarterly financial reports and rebuild some speed and endurance by writing offline files for projects, such as tutorial videos, etc.

Dealing specifically with my injuries, I took the advice and relied upon my doctor’s and physical therapists’ forms of rehab, but I also changed my diet to help keep inflammation away. This included juicing; finding suggested natural remedies, such as ginger, turmeric, and pineapple; and learning what foods are best. I started using wrist supports and support gloves. I avoided heavy lifting; anything that required any movement of my wrists or elbows now was a conscious thought. I paid attention to what foods really did make my fingers or wrists seem achy!

I found better ergonomic setups, such as monitors that didn’t make me tilt my head back but were more at eye level; I tried to be aware of sitting up straight! I switched from a traditional steno machine to the Lightspeed, but I was too far gone with the traditional touch to adjust to that, so the Luminex is what became right for me. The tilt and the touch on that is fantastic — I can position that machine where it is comfortable for me, and I don’t get that familiar wrist pain.

JCR | Did you receive any outside support in overcoming this challenge?
FALGIANI | I went into physical therapy three times a week for well over a year, before having to re-enter therapy just months later after my dislocated shoulder and broken arm.

As mentioned, I was able to become involved in a court reporting and captioning program as adjunct faculty. And the faculty was kind and patient. I had all the years of knowledge in my head, but they had the knowledge about how to help me express that in a classroom format. Kudos to our schools for educating our future writers!

I would love to name colleagues who helped me through this difficult time, but I fear I might miss someone and I don’t want to do that. But to my colleagues who stayed in contact, those who pared down my schedule, or hired me knowing I wouldn’t offer more than a few hours a week and then increasing my hours as I became stronger, I am forever grateful. To our community that helped me transition into remote and on-site CART captioning and internet and online broadcast captioning, I am so happy I found this part of captioning — thank you.

And as always, my husband, John, who has always been my biggest supporter, and our children. Without their support of taking over household chores, cooking, cleaning, listening to my frustrations, encouraging me to persevere, I could have easily faded out of the profession. Thank you for that never-ending support.

JCR | What advice do you have for someone else struggling with this particular challenge?

FALGIANI | Captioning is an investment in your future self, and tendinitis is a possible reality from all those hours at a desk and on a machine, so there are many things:

  • Stay healthy: If you are having pain in your wrists, arms, seek medical advice. Don’t let this get to a point that your career is in jeopardy. Use preventative measures. Learn what sorts of foods have anti-inflammatory properties. Drink plenty of water. Follow a healthy lifestyle.
  • Exercise: With so many hours spent at your desk, you need to be conscious of really stretching, getting up, and moving. Have a daily exercise routine, whether it is walking, yoga, biking.
  • Ergonomics: Assess your workspace ergonomically: the height of your monitors, the chair you sit in, your mouse, and your keyboard.
  • Stay informed and educated: If you must take time off for any sort of recovery, stay informed by reading articles, volunteering your time to our students, joining focus groups or committees, getting involved with the Deaf/hard-of-hearing communities as advocates, etc. Continue to earn your Continuing Education Units to ensure your certifications don’t lapse. (Retraining your mind to take Q&A testimony after strictly captioning can be a task for some reason!) Don’t let the ever-changing technology get ahead of you.
  • Avoid injury: Be smart about your activities, and try to avoid risky behavior.

But mostly, for me, after resuming a captioning schedule, it was more of a reduction in hours and/or the way my hours are spread out. There is always the question of employee vs. independent contractor. Independent contracting is allowing me to control my schedule so it works best for me.

JCR | Do you have anything else you’d like to add?

FALGIANI | Sitting all day can be a health issue, as well as the repetitive motion, so educate yourself on short exercise routines to do at your desk or in your surroundings, or just using a few extra minutes to stand up instead of sitting and waiting, if appropriate. Find your niche with either yoga, stretch bands, walking, something to keep you active. It is really easy to find information on things like one-minute workout routines, or seven 60-second moves, things like that. I haven’t tried a stand-up desk, but I have read that some really love that sort of thing.

When your shift for the day is done, make that stretching, at least, a part of your shutdown routine. And don’t get caught up in one form of captioning. With the forward march of technology, there are so many captioning opportunities. If you are able, keep a variety of jobs in your schedule just to help break up very difficult routines, and try not to work ten-day weeks.

Kim Falgiani, RMR, CRC, is a captioner in Warren, Ohio. She can be reached at kfalgiani@gmail.com.

 

LearnToCaption.com offers Translation Tune-Up for court reporters

LearnToCaption.com is now offering Translation Tune-Up, a webinar and a half hour of one-on-one training to help court reporters learn to cut editing time in half.

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Captioning event marks Good Deeds Day

WMAR, Baltimore, Md., aired a story on April 15 about a closed captioning event held in honor of Good Deeds Day at the Center for Jewish Education.

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UW’s campus exhibits a lack of understanding of Deaf culture

The University of Wisconsin’s student newspaper, The Badger Herald, posted an article on April 3 about the need for captioning as well as a better understanding by faculty and students about the importance of providing captioning for deaf students.

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Why closed captioning matters

The Delta Statement posted an editorial on April 1 that addresses the importance of providing captioning in movie theaters.

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Article touts captioning as needed and lucrative field

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR Weekly

Captioning for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can be a lucrative field, according to a Dec. 3, 2017, article on VeryWell.com, a website that describes itself as a trusted resource on medical topics. The article explains some differences in types of captioning and how to find training programs, referencing the NCRA.org website.

 

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