Florida to offer closed captioning for high school standard assessments

The Orlando Sentinel, Orlando, Fla., reported on Aug. 24 that Florida will soon offer closed captioning to students who are deaf or hard of hearing who need that service to complete a listening section of the state’s key language arts exam.

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CART CAPTIONING: Oh, the places we go! A day in the life of a CART captioner

Lisa Richardson captions a rodeo

Lisa Richardson captions a rodeo

By Lisa Richardson

I’ve captioned and CARTed a lot of events in my time: graduations, funerals, a wedding, meetings, a bar conversation, and many different classes, just to name a few. But never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d be captioning a rodeo. I mean, really? A rodeo?

How did this happen? Well, I have a client (we’ll call him R.T.) who loves the rodeo and, because of his hearing loss, going to see his friends participate was really frustrating for him, as I’m sure you can imagine. There’s so much going on, and he can’t hear a darn thing.

I’ll admit, though, when he first asked me if I’d do it, I was less than excited. I’m just not the biggest rodeo fan. I had never been to a rodeo in my life! Plus, what about all the dirt and dust? Where will I sit? How will R.T. be able to read the computer screen; will it be too bright outside? How will I hear? Controlled audio is one thing but sitting outside, listening to a general public address system, with lots of folks in the audience? Yikes!

Luckily, R.T. put me in touch with a good friend of his, S.G., who is very involved with this particular rodeo organization, and after a few conversations, we had a tentative plan in place that he felt would work, keeping me and my equipment as protected as possible.

Okay, we’ve got a plan, so my anxiety started to subside … Wait! What would I wear? Deciding on appropriate attire for some of these CART captioning jobs can be really challenging! You always want to fit in with the group, but it can be a real guessing game with some assignments. Like the time I showed up for a retreat in a business suit and everyone else was in sweats!

Anyway, I mentioned my dilemma to my neighbor, and she had the perfect answer: jeans and cowboy boots. Okay, I could’ve figured out the jeans, but I didn’t have any cowboy boots. Why would I have cowboy boots? I’m a city girl! My neighbor, being the dream she is, had cowboy boots! And they fit! Okay, this is all coming together. (And I knew R.T. would love seeing the boots.)

The day finally came, and I made my way to the rodeo. It had been incredibly hot the week before, so along with being nervous about the setup and what I was in for, I was also worried about the heat and hoped for a break from the hot sun, not only for me but for my equipment.

I met up with R.T., along with S.G. and another gentleman, J.G., who told me he was there to take care of me for the day. Wow, I wish I could have one of those at every job.

And take care of me they did. They’d arranged to have a canopy set up right by the arena railing so I could see and hear, and I would also be protected from the sun. Then they ran a long power cord to me, so I had electricity to run both computers all afternoon. And to top it all off, they had a fan, just for me! I felt like a real diva — a rodeo diva! Okay, I thought. Bring it on. I’m ready.

For the setup, I had a separate computer for R.T., so he could sit wherever he wanted. I ended up using a program that allowed me to really manipulate the screen colors and font size to allow for the best screen visibility, even in the sun! He was even able to sit in the bleachers, until he realized I had a better seat, and it was shaded.

It turned out to be a very fun day. Sometimes it was hard to understand the announcer on the public address system, but I was able to get enough so R.T. knew who was in the arena and what was going on. Sometimes people would stand around us, talking and yelling to friends, also making it hard to hear the announcer so I’d write what I could hear the people yelling. Equal access, right? The good and the bad! A lot of people also wanted to know what I was doing and why was I recording the rodeo. It turned into a really good opportunity to promote captioning and court reporting!

There were barrel races, bull riding, steer roping, a parade, and even a goat dressing contest! Yep, you read that one correctly. At a signal, two people would run to the goat and one would hold the goat while the other had to put underpants on the poor adorable goat. The teams were timed and whoever had the best time was the winner. It may sound easy, but it was amusingly difficult. It didn’t help that the goats were not at all happy with being on display in such a way.

And then, just like that, it was all over. The events were done, and it was time to leave. Boy, the time sure went fast. But I was also wiped out and ready to be home. Listening and performing all day is hard work.

Would I do it again? You bet. And next time, I won’t worry so much. For this job, I already know what to wear!

Lisa Richardson, RPR, CRR, CRC, of Robbinsdale, Minn., is a broadcast captioner. She can be reached at lisarichardson@paradigmreporting.com.

Captioning the moment: UTRGV spring grads will see their names on the big screen

An article posted by the Valley Town Crier on May 12 about the spring commencement ceremonies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley showcases how CART providers will make the experience more fulfilling for visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing by ensuring each graduate’s name appears on the big screens during the event.

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Going global: The Internet Keyboarding Competition – Join Team USA!

By Tori Pittman

As you may have know, Intersteno offers a way to participate in their competition from the comfort of your own home. No trans-Atlantic flights and jet lag, no customs and duty free; just you and your keyboard, typing (or stenoing) your heart out for a few minutes.

It really is a very simple way to whet your appetite for Intersteno. You can compete solo or perhaps have your whole reporting office sign up to participate, maybe even your state association. You could do a family team, a church team, your scouting troop. See, the Internet Keyboarding Competition is for everyone who uses a keyboard.

As outlined in a previous article and on the Intersteno website, individuals or teams sign up and then have a window to compete. Compitors type on the Intersteno platform and then wait for the results. The Intersteno website offers a guide and some practice materials for competitors. And people who speak Spanish, French, or something else – there are many options – may compete in several languages in addition to their mother tongue. There is a range of dates on which to compete, so people can make it fit within their schedules. The fee is small (approximately 7 euros which, at the time of the writing of this article, was approximately $7.25).

Most excitingly, your results are tallied within your group, your country, and then the world, so you can look and see how you rate.

Of course, after you’ve tasted a little bit of what Intersteno is, I’m sure you’ll be ready to make plans for Intersteno Congress 51 that will be taking place in 2017 in Berlin.

Please consider being a part of Team USA for the Internet Keyboarding Competition and also at the Congress in 2017.

For more information, please visit the Intersteno websites at www.intersteno.org and www.intersteno2017.org.

Tori Pittman, RDR, CRI, a freelancer in Wake Forest, N.C., is chair of NCRA’s Intersteno Task Force. She can be reached at tori@tori-pittman.com.

 

 

CART provider sheds light on work in the classroom on local radio show

On Feb. 17, Norma Rease, a CART provider from Stockton, Calif., was interviewed on the Ryan and Repoman radio show on station KWDC during Court Reporting & Captioning Week about her job providing CART to students at San Joaquin Delta College. The interview was forwarded to NCRA by member Sharece Atkins, RPR, a freelance reporter also from Stockton who also works as a radio show producer and DJ. The audio was posted by Humphreys College, where Rease graduated.

Listen to the interview.

CAPTIONING: Providing access for clients who are deaf-blind

close-up of fingers reading brailleBy Megan Rogers

It’s difficult to determine exactly how many people in the United States are deaf-blind because the definition for deaf-blind varies from person to person. The Gallaudet University Library cites two sources: a 1980 national study by the Department of Education that estimated 42,000 to 700,000 people and a 2008 paper by Barbara Miles for the National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness that estimates more than 10,000 children (birth to 22 years) are deaf-blind and 35,000 to 45,000 adults are. Altogether, this is less than 1 percent of the population of the United States.

Even within the group, there is a variety of conditions. Some people classified as deaf-blind may have had no hearing or visual ability since birth and some may have been slowly losing one ability or the other, and the loss could be due to a variety of reasons. Deaf-blind could also mean low visibility or low hearing rather than no ability at all. Because of these characteristics, CART providers and captioners working with this population need to be flexible and tailor their services for the individual client.

Technology and equipment

There are two main questions to consider when choosing equipment for a client who is deaf-blind: 1) What is the client’s visual ability? 2) If the client cannot see at all, does the client read Braille?

“There are a lot of conditions that involve both vision and hearing loss, but most people who have them are hard of hearing and low vision rather than completely deaf and completely blind,” says Mirabai Knight, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, a captioner in New York, N.Y. Knight says, “Giving people a tablet with the captioning on it so that they can put it close to their eyes, asking them which foreground and background colors they prefer, and asking which font size they prefer can help a lot.”

Debra Cheyne, a CART captioner in Sherwood, Ore., provided captioning for a juror who has limited visual and audio abilities in November. Cheyne connected a monitor to her equipment and arranged for white text on a black background using Arial font that was sized as large as possible; each letter was about two to three inches tall. In some cases, such as with a client who experiences tunnel vision, it may be more helpful to have smaller text in the middle of a screen.

Clients who were born blind or deaf-blind are more likely to read Braille, although this is not always true. Kolby Garrison, a court reporting student at College of Court Reporting who is blind, explained that Braille is not taught as often anymore because people are more likely to use screen-reader software on a computer. Clients who can read Braille may have a refreshable Braille display that connects to the client’s computer (or other devices) and translates English text from a screen-reader program into Braille letters. Garrison, for example, prefers a 40-cell display because it’s easy to carry around along with her other equipment, although the size ranges from 14 to 80 cells. Some displays also come with a keyboard so the user can input information in Braille, which Garrison prefers because then she can use the display with other devices. The American Foundation for the Blind lists more than a dozen screen-reader programs on their website; JAWS is the most popular. Even for clients who read Braille, their fluency level determines how quickly they will be able to follow along with the text. It is important for a captioner to keep in mind that their client may not be able to read as quickly as the speaker is talking, even if the captioner can keep up.

Depending on the method of caption delivery, the client may be able to control the display settings. Jennifer Aggeler, a broadcast captioner in Kneeland, Calif., who has provided on-site CART for clients who are deaf-blind in the past, noted that the technology has changed quite a bit over the years and suggests using the free applications Google Docs or Microsoft Word Online. “The CART provider, after creating an online text document and setting it to ‘share,’ simply writes realtime text directly into the document on their computer while the viewer simultaneously has the same document open on their computer and reads at their own pace,” Aggeler said.

Text on Top is a paid option for delivering captions to a client who is deaf-blind. Sander Pasveer, who developed Text on Top, explained, “When reading from a screen is not possible because of a visual impairment, Text on Top comes with an application called Text on Top Vision. An individual user can read the text from his or her own laptop or tablet and adjust the appearance to his or her own needs. It also allows the user to scroll backwards.”

For clients who are using refreshable Braille devices, the technology may need to be adjusted a bit. Nick Wilkie, CEO at StreamText.Net, another paid option for delivering captions, explained that screen readers are set up to work best with static text, so the dynamic text of captions makes that tricky. StreamText.Net has a workaround that allows users to keep the cursor at the bottom of the text.

Since Cheyne worked with her equipment connected to a monitor, she also removed all of the distracting information from the software so the screen displayed only the captioning feed. She also arranged to have as many lines of text available as possible with a continuous flow. Aggeler also adjusts her format slightly for a remote CART job by removing chevrons and identifying speakers with names, ensuring all text starts on the left, using true dashes rather than two hyphens, and having single spacing.

Preparation

Many on-site and remote CART jobs with a client who is deaf-blind require the same preparation for a client who is deaf or hard of hearing. Garrison suggested talking with the client about what the job would entail and provide as much detail as possible. She also stressed the importance of testing the equipment ahead of time, which Aggeler echoed, with the reminder that everyone is different and the way that everyone does or accomplishes things is different.

However, Cheyne often provides captioning in the Oregon court system, and since the court staff is usually not made aware of the client’s particular disability, she may not get many details before a job. Since Cheyne needs to be prepared for any situation when she arrives in court for an assignment, she prepares for the factors she can control, such as being well-rested and packing water and small snacks. She does, however, emphasize the importance of asking for an ergonomic chair if possible to make sure her back is supported throughout a potentially long day.

All other duties as assigned

Sometimes, providing captioning for clients who are deaf-blind involves a few extra responsibilities.

Cheyne said it is particularly important to make sure, when appropriate, that whoever is speaking provide a verbal account of any visual representations, such as drawings on a whiteboard. This information will most likely need to get to the client through the realtime stream unless the client has alternative technology; Cheyne’s client used an ELMO document camera to scan written documents and project reverse imaging onto a second monitor. Depending on the situation, the captioner may also need to be prepared to include side conversations or other language so the client can fully participate with the people around them, although Aggeler pointed out that any captioner should be used to providing sound description parentheticals. While some clients may want to get extra information like how many other people are in the room, others may not. “Know your client,” Aggeler said.

Cheyne also pointed out that the captioner may also need to consider physical logistics, such as making sure a client who is a juror is sitting at the end of a row so other jurors aren’t distracted by the captioner’s screen but also keeping in mind where the plug is located (and don’t forget to tape down those cords). If the client has a service animal, where the animal sits may affect where the captioner’s equipment is placed as well. These other considerations highlight the importance of being flexible with clients who are deaf-blind to make sure their experience runs smoothly.

The importance of accessibility cannot be understated. With a little extra knowledge and preparation, captioning for a client who is deaf-blind can be similar to providing captioning for any other client. At the same time, being flexible with clients who have unique needs can also serve as an important reminder. As Aggeler put it, “CART is best when it includes an individual approach, something tailored to the consumer, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.”

 

Megan Rogers is NCRA’s Communications Assurance Specialist. She can be reached at mrogers@ncra.org

CAPTIONING: CRC workshop offers extensive curriculum

Whether attending the live workshop at the annual convention or taking the e-seminar now available for the new Certified Realtime Captioner certification, NCRA members can expect content that is extensive and cutting edge. The workshop covers topics that range from an overview of captioning to setting up a home office to preparing for an assignment and delivering the final product.

The workshop’s syllabus, which includes 11 sessions, is taught by experts seasoned in providing realtime broadcast captioning and CART services, and it spans a total of 10.5 hours of instruction.

The first CRC workshop, held during the 2015 NCRA Convention & Expo in New York City, drew a healthy number of attendees eager to earn the new certification that combines the highly specialized training formerly given to candidates for the Certified Broadcast Captioner and Certified CART Pro­vider certifications in one program. According to a number of the attendees who participated in the first workshop, they were not disappoint­ed.

“I took this workshop because I strive for excellence in the field of court reporting, and I believe that as a professional, I should be prepared to take any type of assignment,” said Viola Zborowski, RMR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter from Long Valley, N.J. “Being able to write well enough to be a CART cap­tioner and having that NCRA certification is the backbone to my self-esteem and confidence,” she said.

“I was very excited to hear that the work­shop was being given at the NCRA Convention in New York,” said Devon Gerber, RPR, a free­lance reporter from East Brunswick, N.J., who is focused on CART and captioning.

“I knew that the CRC was something I wanted to obtain. Not only did I receive a great education about realtime writing, but I was also able to hear the experiences shared by veteran realtime reporters in a fun and re­laxed environment,” said Gerber.

According to members of NCRA’s Certified Broadcast Captioner and Certified CART Provider Committee, who were charged with developing the requirements to earn the new certification, the move to combine the CBC and CPC and create the CRC is expected to result in the certification of more individuals and provide them with the tools necessary to be successful in the field. In addition, the training also covers making the change from legal court reporting to caption­ing.

“I took the CRC workshop for the continu­ing education credits but was wonderfully surprised to get so much more out of it,” said Susan A. Zielie, RMR, an official reporter from New Orleans, La., with 30 years of experience. “This particular workshop was jam-packed with useful information. It was not the typical work­shop where the instructors repeat the same material over and over. I have always been a judicial reporter, so I’m new to the captioning world. Fortunately I was surrounded by work­ing captioners, and they also expressed learn­ing valuable information during the seminar, as well as contributing valuable information.”

Other topics covered in the CRC workshop include transitioning to captioning, creating dictionaries, reviewing your writing, and an exploration of CART and captioning venues. In addition, attendees learn about the profes­sional standards and guidelines governing captioning, as well as catch a glimpse of a day in the life of certified realtime captioner.

“This workshop was taught by a whole host of professional reporters, not just one or two, all of them experts in their own right. It was such an honor to be taught by them. The course was intense but fantastic. I would recommend it to everyone,” said Zborowski.

“I would absolutely encourage others to participate in the workshop. Realtime reporting is the future of our field and something that I am proud to be a part of,” said Gerber. “The op­portunities for realtime writers are out there just waiting to be taken advantage of.”

Zielie also recommends that anyone interested in learning more about captioning consider taking the CRC workshop. She said she credits the workshop with opening up several new opportunities for her.

“Following this workshop, I have had the opportunity to caption some conventions and university classes, both on-site and remotely. I wouldn’t have even thought about taking on these challenges without first attending the CRC workshop,” she said.

For more information about attending a CRC workshop, visit NCRA’s testing page at NCRA.org/CRC.

New York governor signs bill to provide CART services in state courtrooms

Sponsor_StudentIn September 2015, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed bill S5533-B, referred to as the CART bill, which expands provisions to enable people who are deaf or hard of hearing with access to court proceedings.

NCRA member Adam H. Alweis, RPR, a senior court reporter from Syracuse, N.Y., and a board member for the New York State Court Reporters Association, provided the following information on what the CART bill was, the events leading up to its signing, and how the bill may be implemented in the New York courts.

The JCR first wrote about the CART bill in July.

***

The CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) bill was created by the Association of Surrogates and Supreme Court Reporters union down in New York City, namely, President Brian DiGiovanna, RPR, CRR, CMRS, and Legislative Chairperson John Cardillo, as well as the NYSCRA Legislative Chairperson Myron Calderon. These individuals deserve high praise for their efforts in this regard.

The bill provides for having a realtime court reporter present in any situation within the court system where a juror, litigant, judge, family member, etc. who is deaf or hard of hearing is in need of realtime access in order to be more fully able to participate in the proceedings in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

New York State Senator John DeFrancisco was approached by DiGiovanna initially to put forward this bill in the New York state legislature. Both Sen. DeFrancisco and Assemblyperson Helene Weinstein sponsored the bill, which eventually passed through both houses.

In July, DiGiovanna had contacted me in Syracuse about doing a press conference to outline for the press and the public what this bill’s intentions were and its positive impact on the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. After meeting with the senator’s staff, along with their assistance, we set up a wireless realtime demonstration for the press conference using two iPads for display to the audience.

The press conference occurred in late July in the Onondaga County Courthouse in Syracuse. Sen. DeFrancisco spoke to those who attended along with a representative from the hard-of-hearing community. A sign language interpreter was also present. At the end of the conference, I gave a brief outline as to how the realtime worked using a wireless Internet device.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill on Sept. 25.

The following would be my understanding on how this will work. Those working in the New York state courts should check with their individual supervisors for more information.

For a juror who is deaf or hard of hearing, a realtime court reporter will have to shadow that juror throughout his or her participation in the proceedings. What that means is that, most likely, you would need two court reporters in the courtroom at the same time: one who is recording the proceedings and the other who is shadowing the juror.

If none of the court reporters within the court system are available to do this shadowing, then the court system will be responsible for finding someone from outside to handle this.

As far as litigants in need for realtime, I would imagine that would be handled by the supervisors in each office as to how to implement that.

If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to contact the officers and directors of NYSCRA and/or the officers of the ASSCR.

Harvard invests in closed captioning

An article posted Aug. 20 by SportsVideo.org, reports that Harvard University has recently renovated its centralized control room to allow for the department’s video production team to produce multiple events from the same space. The school is also working with Vitac, which is providing human captioners to provide closed captioning on all of its live events.

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New York senator urges governor to sign bill to provide CART services in state courtrooms

In July, Sen. John A. DeFrancisco announced the passage of S5533-B by the state’s Senate and Assembly. The bill, which DeFrancisco introduced, would require state-funded courts to provide CART services for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. NCRA member Adam H. Alweis, RPR, a senior court reporter from Syracuse, N.Y., attended the press conference where the announcement was made and provided a wireless realtime demonstration for those that attended.

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