Don’t miss your chance to vote in this year’s election

The deadline to join NCRA or provide an updated email to NCRA to vote in the 2018 elections is July 15. Voting begins within two hours after the close of the Annual Business Meeting, which will be held on Thursday, Aug. 2, from 8:30-11 a.m. CT. Voting is open for 12 hours.

Ask the Techie: Mixer recommendations

The Realtime and Technology Resource Committee is taking your questions on topics surrounding realtime and technology. Send the questions you want the technology committee members to tackle to jcrfeedback@ncra.org.

Dear Techie:

I’m in the market for a new mixer. Do you have any recommendations?

Mixing it up in the city


Dear Mixing:

It’s always great when you have the opportunity to update or upgrade your equipment, and doing so proactively lets you really research your choices. Good luck on finding the one that’s right for you!

There are many options available for a mixer out on the market, but our needs can be so specific. Here are our suggestions.

Lou Chiodo, CLVS, a videographer who has also earned NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator and Trial Presentation Professional certificates, of New York City, N.Y.:  I recently added the Zoom F8 – Recorder/Mixer into my deposition kit. I cannot say this is an inexpensive audio solution; however, I do believe that it is a crucial item in my audio workflow.

I was persuaded to select this model based on the following key features:

  • It is a professional field mixer and sophisticated recorder in one, with eight channels, in a lightweight, aluminum, tiny form factor.
  • It comes with flexible SD card recording options, providing redundant recording; safety track recording; or a combination of isolated channels with a second mix containing all channels.
  • It includes an iOS companion app for iPad or iPhone and it handles remote control of its mixing and recording features. (This app satisfies my only complaint of it having small knobs.)

If this mixer/recorder combo is for you, it is readily available online for $799 – originally priced at $1,000.

My preferred setup for recording audio for court reporters or their scopists is to always keep one of the left or right channel, peak signal levels, slightly lower or behind the other channel for safer recording and to prevent distortion or clipping. I then record all individual channels onto one SD card and a mix of all channels onto the other SD card during the deposition. The files are then available for immediate transfer to the reporter, especially for a next-day expedite.

 

Alan Peacock, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter and captioner based in Mobile, Ala.: I do use a mixer for my court work. I like the Rolls MX410 4-Channel Microphone Mixer. I think professional XLR connections provide the best quality audio for any mixer, which is what most videographers use as well. You can buy the XLR in a variety of different lengths, so you can accommodate almost any room.

For captioning, I just use a simple Pyle Pro amp. What’s most important to me is the headset. You need something super light, since you’re wearing it most of the day. I prefer a full ear cup, so my favorite headset is the Bose Quietcomfort. You can find wired and wireless versions out there. Most of the wired ones have been retired, but there are plenty on eBay right now that you can get at a reduced price.

 

Scott Aaron, a videographer based in Memphis, Tenn.: I utilize the Shure SCM268 Microphone Mixer for my audio recording during depositions. It has four transformer balanced XLR microphone inputs and one transformer balanced XLR mic/line output. Each of the four line inputs are adjusted individually, giving you control for each person using a lapel mic. As with most mixers, the volume adjustments are easily made, ensuring a great-sounding final product.

The main reasons I chose this mixer are: 1) Reliability: This mixer has been tried and tested for many years with excellent reviews; 2) Compact size; 3) Cost: Around $200-$250. I have used this mixer for 11 years and have never had any issues.

 

Cheryl Erwin, a videographer, Nashville, Tenn.: Looking for the perfect audio mixer for depositions was a challenge. Most of the mixers we considered had far more functions than we needed. We did not need three bands of EQ or built-in effects. What we did need was a mixer that was lightweight and portable, with XLR inputs for good quality. We decided upon the ROLLS ProMIX-IV. It’s a four-channel mixer with four XLR connectors in and two out. It has four rotating input volume controls and two auxiliary out connectors, 1/4-inch phone plug, and a mini plug. This mixer also has 48-volt phantom power, which we don’t use because we have battery-powered condenser microphones. We have found that EQ is not necessary and four microphones are enough for most depositions. This mixer sells for about $150, it’s lightweight and fairly small, 6 in. x 4 in. x 3 in. The audio quality is outstanding!

 

Rob Sawyer, a videographer based in Memphis, Tenn.: I have used Yamaha and Peavey over the years for audio/video deposition units. All these units have four pro-level XLR inputs with individual volume controls for each microphone plus a master level and a separate level for the output. The mixed output is used to send the audio to the court reporter’s computer or audio recording device. Four inputs allows separate mics for each primary opposing lawyer, the deponent, and an overall room mic. The room mic is used primarily as a backup. I like Yamaha the best because it is compact and durable. The cost is usually $150-$200.

 

Julie Coulston, a videographer based in Jackson, Tenn.: I use a Shure Mixer that I purchased five or six years ago, and I am almost positive it has been replaced by a newer version, so I wouldn’t know which one to recommend to new videographers. For the court reporter audio, I use a TASCAM recorder that records onto an SD card. I can give it to the reporter on site, or I can email them the audio, which the reporter can download when convenient.

HLAA members embrace NCRA at annual convention

Marcia Ferranto

Attendees at the 2018 Hearing Loss Association of America’s (HLAA) annual convention held June 21-24 in Minneapolis, Minn., welcomed NCRA as an exhibitor to the event and shared with Executive Director and CEO Marcia Ferranto how much they appreciated the services of captioners and CART providers.

“Working with the end user of CART captioning was an enriching experience, and many of them shared with me their love for the service and their willingness to help advance the profession,” Ferranto said.

Ferranto also held a breakout session onsite where she explained to attendees how NCRA is working toward attracting more people into the profession. She also shared that NCRA members who are CART captioners represent the highest standard of skill and excellence in the profession. Ferranto also offered information about what is involved in becoming and working as a CART captioner, how NCRA is the national certifying body, and why users should be looking for NCRA certifications when hiring a provider.

“Marcia’s presentation on the future of CART captioning was very well-received and shed light on how NCRA is working with HLAA to raise awareness of and to proliferate CART captioning,” said Matthew R. Barusch, NCRA’s Manager of State Government Relations, who also attended the event.

Overall, said Barusch, the whole experience was a huge success and was a prime example of the importance of working with the deaf and hard-of hearing community. People with hearing disabilities are the main consumers of CART captioning services, and they value and appreciate the services that NCRA members provide, he added. Working with HLAA to enhance and protect captioning and captioning policy cultivates a huge population of advocates for NCRA members and, ultimately, will make NCRA stronger.

According to Barusch, there was a huge interest by attendees in the NCRA Sourcebook, since so many attendees were interested in finding CART captioners in their area. In addition, he noted that many chapter leaders thanked NCRA for its new partnership with HLAA, which is helping to identify and provide CART captioning to their members.

Left to right: Matt Barusch, Caitlin Albrecht, Merilee Johnson, Jennifer Sati

“We could not be more thankful to HLAA for putting on such a great convention, and to our wonderful volunteers, who represented in such an amazing way,” Barusch shared.

NCRA Board of Directors member Jennifer Sati, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI, from Dayton, Minn., assisted in recruiting a number of volunteers to demonstrate captioning at the NCRA booth. Those volunteers included:

  • Caitlin Albrecht, a freelance court reporter from Plymouth, Minn.
  • Kristi Arntzen, RPR, CRR, a captioner from St. Louis Park, Minn.
  • Elizabeth Gangl, RPR, a freelance court reporter from Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Staci Heichert, RDR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Shakopee, Minn.
  • Merilee Johnson, RDR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Eden Prairie, Minn.
  • Heather Schuetz, RMR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter from Woodbury, Minn.
  • Angie Sundell, RMR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Hopkins, Minn.
  • Jean Whalen, RDR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Apple Valley, Minn.

“I want to give a shout-out to Marcia on her presentation at HLAA. I was lucky enough to be in the audience since it was in my neck of the woods. She has such a talent at engaging the audience, and they were engaged! I never tire of hearing CART captioning consumers express how much they love NCRA and their captioners,” Sati shared with members of NCRA’s BOD.

“Seeing us in action this weekend, I think this is a must to continue with our participation at HLAA each year to take advantage of the exposure and opportunities,” she added.

“Engaging in professional relationships with like-minded organizations such as HLAA not only showcases the services our members provide to assist members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities, but it also creates a strong bond and vital support for our common issues,” Ferranto added.

FCC votes to strengthen, sustain IP Captioned Phone Service

In a press release issued June 7, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it has approved an item to reform Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS). This move will ensure that this critical communications service remains sustainable for Americans with hearing loss who need it.

Read more.

Dreaming of earning the CRC? Convention is the place

Realtime captioning is an in-demand skill for court reporters. Earning the CRC will allow those who possess it to present themselves as among the most elite and qualified captioners.

The two-day workshop followed by the Written Knowledge Test will be offered again this year at the NCRA Convention & Expo. Attendees will learn how to perfect the set-up and operation of their equipment, convert their files to ASCII text files, and gain a solid foundation for understanding what it takes to be a captioner.

To fully earn the CRC, candidates must complete three steps:

  1. Attend the CRC Workshop which is offered Thursday and Friday, Aug. 2 and 3.
  2. Take the CRC Skills Test (literary matter at 180 wpm), which is offered online and can be taken anytime.
  3. Take the written knowledge test (50 questions), which can be taken at Convention following the CRC Workshop or at a Pearson VUE testing center in October (registration opens in September).

Online registration for Convention ends on July 23, but the CRC Workshop and on-site CRC Written Knowledge Test are expected to sell out before then. Register today!

 

Proposed name change to bring greater attention to stenography

NCRA members will have the opportunity in August to vote on several amendments to the Association’s bylaws, including approving an amendment to add captioners to the official name.

If approved, the amendment would change the name of the Association to National Captioners and Reporters Association, which would maintain the initials NCRA, a recognized and significant symbol for captioning and court reporting professionals. In addition, the official logo would include a new tagline that underscores the professions NCRA represents — Steno: The standard in capturing the spoken word. The tagline maintains the Association’s focus on stenography and the professions that use a steno machine.

The proposed amendment is the result of lengthy discussion and membership feedback brought forward during the creation of the new three-year strategic plan. In addition to engagement with membership for feedback, NCRA sought the expertise of an outside consultant. The change is expected to bring more attention to stenography and the machine, update the image of stenography, and inform the public that stenography serves many purposes.

Kimberly Shea

“One of the most important things about the name change is that NCRA is recognizing captioners as valued members of this professional organization. It’s an opportunity to say, ‘We are an association made up of stenographers. We value captioners as members. We value your exceptional realtime skills. We value your profession. We represent you on the same level that we represent court reporters,’” said Kimberly A. Shea, CRC, a captioner from Trophy Club, Texas.

“I believe it’s important to acknowledge that, while we are all stenographers, captioners and court reporters possess intricate skill sets unique to their specialty. I have been a member of both professions for many years. They are both amazing communities to be a part of,” Shea added.

Danielle Murray

“My hope is that this name change will assist in the rebranding of our industry,” said Danielle Murray, RPR, CRR, an official court reporter from Olathe, Kan. “The name change encompasses more of what we are now in 2018. We aren’t just court reporters sitting in a court anymore. There are many more things you can do with this skill,” she added.

Murray has been a member of NCRA for 10 years, is immediate past president of the Kansas Court Reporters Association, and currently works for the 10th Judicial District of the State of Kansas.

According to the amendment rationale, the proposed name change would also help bolster the services and value members receive. In addition, it will drive greater recognition for the human component of court reporting and captioning within the profession’s client communities.

Steve Clark

“This name change will recognize the important work that is performed by NCRA members who are court reporters and captioners — and some who work as both reporters and captioners — and will keep the NCRA tag, recognizing NCRA as the stenographic leader in capturing the spoken word,” said Stephen H. Clark, CRC, a manager and realtime captioner for Home Team Captions in Washington, D.C., and a member of NCRA for 33 years.

“As more and more captioning is being performed, both broadcast and CART captioning, it is vital that we recognize the contributions made by captioners and the importance of their membership in NCRA. This profession is changing so quickly, and recognizing all of our professional members is the right thing to do. There is strength in numbers. We are strongest when we work as one, while recognizing the unique talents of all of our members,” he added.

“My hope is that court reporters and captioners will realize that we have a better chance at success if we stand together as stenographers, respecting the skills we all possess and supporting each other in the challenges we face on both sides of the fence by participating in education, awareness, and activism at every opportunity,” said Shea.

“If we can successfully do that, then our membership will flourish and we can encourage and inspire a new, modern generation of stenographers to keep the skill alive, respected, and relevant. There is power in numbers. In order to grow, we have to give people a reason to be here. They have to feel they are represented and that their professional needs are being served. Our organization has the potential to make a difference in not only our professional communities but also the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

Murray agrees: “There is strength with numbers; and court reporters and captioners have a common interest, which is to be the gold standard for translating the spoken word to text,” Murray added.

The Constitution & Bylaws permits all eligible NCRA voting members to vote through electronic means on Bylaws amendments. Members who are eligible to vote will be able to sign in to the secure website and vote through a private, secure link during the 12-hour voting period, which should open within two hours of the end of the Annual Business Meeting. Members who are interested in voting must have an active email address on file in NCRA’s membership database.

Members attending the Annual Business Meeting will also be voting on new members of the Board. The Annual Business Meeting will take place at 8:30 a.m. CT on Thursday, Aug. 2. The Annual Business Meeting will be held in conjunction with NCRA’s Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La. Eligible voting members will check in and receive a ballot and information starting at 8 a.m.

Only 34 days and counting! Don’t wait, register now

Spots are filling fast, and the deadlines for lodging and registration are looming for NCRA’s 2018 Convention & Expo taking place Aug. 2-5 in New Orleans, La. July 6 marks the deadline to reserve a room at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans using NCRA’s special discount, a deal that also gets you a free breakfast on Friday and Saturday (a $75 value). Save more by registering for the Convention & Expo before July 23, when online registration closes, and avoid a $100 additional fee for onsite registration.

This year’s all-inclusive schedule is sure to appeal to anyone in the court reporting, captioning, and legal video professions, or in the educational arena. But hurry; there are only 28 spots available for the ever-popular Punctuation Workshop, 18 spots for the National Speed Contest, and 15 spots for the National Realtime Contest. Last year, all three of these events sold out, so don’t miss your chance this year.

Other schedule highlights include workshops, business sessions, and Learning Zones that will offer attendees added opportunities to mingle and network. Throughout the Convention, attendees can earn up to 2.3 CEUs.

The Keynote speaker for NCRA’s 2018 Convention & Expo is Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré (U.S. Army, Ret.), a 37-year veteran of active service who served as the commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, during which time he became known as the “Category 5 General” for his striking leadership style in coordinating military relief efforts in post-hurricane New Orleans.

In addition to sharing insights into his leadership skills with attendees at the premier session, Honoré will write his military story in a special Veterans History Project event. Honoré will be interviewed on stage by NCRA member Michael Miller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Houston, Texas. Accompanying Miller on stage will be NCRA member Daniel Griffin, RPR, a freelance reporter from Phoenix, Ariz., who will transcribe Honoré’s story. Once completed, Honoré’s story will be preserved at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., as part of its VHP program.

Get into the New Orleans mood even more by checking out this party playlist of songs selected by NCRA’s Board and Staff to get everyone excited to meet at the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo!

For more information about the 2018 NCRA Annual Convention & Expo, or to register, visit NCRA.org/Convention.

For information about sponsorship opportunities, contact Mary Petto, Senior Director of External Affairs at mpetto@ncra.org.

Fast fingers, few prospects: Courts across Illinois seek more stenographers

On June 23, the Herald & Review, Decatur, Ill., posted an article about the need for more court reporters within the state. NCRA members quoted in the article include: Kathryn Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Caseyville; Melissa Clagg, RDR, CRR, CRC, an official court reporter from Urbana; and Dana Byers, RPR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Decatur.

Read more.

New captioning company in Idaho

NCRA members Andrea Couch, RDR, CRR, CRC, and Anissa Nierenberger, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI, are the owners of a new captioning company, IdaCaption, located in Boise, Idaho.  IdaCaption provides on-site and off-site CART and broadcast captioning services.

Read more.

Closed captioning bill passes first readings at student government meeting

Closed captioning may soon be required for University of Florida’s student government’s videos after a bill was unanimously passed during first readings at Tuesday’s student government meeting, according to an article posted June 14 by The Alligator, a student-owned newspaper that serves the University of Florida.

Read more.