What can I do in a month?

By Natalie Dippenaar

Are you looking to earn Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) before the cycle ends on September 30? Look no further: NCRA offers a number of convenient ways to further your education. This week starts a three-part fortnightly series of earning CEUs!

First step: Think back over the past three years.

  • Check your transcript. Is anything missing?
  • Have you taken any courses that might be worthy of CEUs? You might be eligible for CEUs if you have taken a course in any of these areas:
  1. Language skills, literature, and linguistics
  2. The reporting profession, the law, and the courts
  3. Medicine and medical terminology
  4. Court reporting software and technology
  5. Legal and business technology
  6. Legal videography
  7. Trial presentation
  8. Business administration
  9. Safety and emergency preparedness
  10. Educational or historical tours
  • Have you given your services to help those in the profession? You might be eligible for Professional Development Credits (PDCs) if you have given of your time by:
  1. Participating in any pro bono reporting or captioning services
  2. Participating in a formal mentoring program such as NCRA’s Virtual Mentor program
  3. Serving on an NCRA, NCRF, or affiliate state board or committee
  4. Promoting the court reporting profession in presentations


How to tell a CEU from a PDC…

If you were the student/trainee, you might be eligible for CEU, but if you were the presenter/mentor/board member, you are more likely to be eligible for PDCs.

NOTE: PDCs are not accepted for certificates, CLVS required training, or re-instatement, and PDCs are usually limited to a maximum of 1.0 of your 3.0 CEU requirement.

Next step: Don’t procrastinate!

Here are some quick and easy actions you can take right now!

  • Webinars

September is a busy month in the webinar department at NCRA. Here is a small taste of some webinars being offered in the coming weeks.

Monday, Sept. 12, 2016: 5 – 6 p.m. ET (0.1 CEU) – Podcasting to promote your business

In this webinar, Steve Lubetkin, CLVS, co-author with Donna Papacosta of The Business of Podcasting: How to Take Your Podcasting Passion from the Personal to the Professional, reviews and explains how to make audio and video podcasts (Internet-distributed audio and video programs) part of your marketing and communications plan.
Register here!

Friday, Sept. 16, 2016: 4 – 5 p.m. ET (0.1 CEU) – Disability awareness and etiquette

More than one out of every five individuals has a disability in the United States. As the baby-boomer population ages, the prevalence of disabilities will increase. People with disabilities are entitled to the same courtesies you would extend to anyone. Yet, many of us have not had personal experience with disabilities and/or have not been exposed to a wide variety of types of disabilities and, thus, feel awkward or inadequately prepared to interact or respond appropriately. This session will review common disabilities and discuss courtesies and responses that are applicable in everyday interactions. Individuals will have an opportunity to dialogue about personal experiences and discuss specific situations with the presenter, Robin Jones.
Register here!

Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016: 4 – 5 p.m. ET (0.1 CEU) – Developing resiliency: Six powerful strategies to thrive at work

During this webcast, Dr. Kevin Nourse and Dr. Lynn Schmidt will introduce the Resiliency Framework, which was developed from extensive research and interviews. The framework consists of six strategies that help people thrive in the face of career challenges. Attend this session to find out which resiliency strategy you need to strengthen to increase your career satisfaction and viability. You will take a brief assessment to determine your resiliency needs, and you will leave with at least one action that you can take immediately to increase your resiliency. By using the six resiliency strategies, you can create a career defined by growth, success, and satisfaction.
Register here!

Watch the CEU Corner and visit the NCRA webinar website for late additions in the coming weeks and more details!

  • Take a CPR or first aid class

Up to 0.1 CEU per hour (to a maximum of 1.2 CEUs) will be awarded for CPR and first aid courses conducted by the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, or any other organization that meets the federal standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Credits for either of these two classes may only be received once each three-year term.

And don’t forget, save money by submitting your CEUs online!

For more information: Visit the NCRA Web page Ways to Earn Continuing Education.

Natalie Dippenaar is NCRA’s Professional Development Program Manager. She can be reached at ndippenaar@ncra.org.


Memorable photo of V-J Day creates intriguing interviews for Veterans History Project volunteer

Nearly synonymous with the end of World War II is a photo usually called V-J Day in Times Square and sometimes The Kiss, the photo of a kissing sailor and nurse. Some even dub it the most famous kiss in American history. This 1945 shot was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt as Americans learned that the war was over.

For approximately 70 years though, the true identities of the sailor and so-called nurse remained a mystery, despite multitudes of men and women coming forward over the years claiming they were the subjects. Their identities were finally revealed in the release of the 2012 book, The Kissing Sailor: The Mystery Behind the Photo that Ended World War II. The sailor is George Mendonsa, and the nurse, who was really a dental assistant, is Greta Friedman.

Years earlier, in 2005, both Friedman and Mendonsa shared their stories for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, and this year, NCRF facilitated the transcription of these interviews.

“As a student, I had seen the iconic photo, as well as the media covering the reenactments that had taken place in Times Square at the 60th and 70th Anniversaries of V-J Day,” said Nancy Rowland, the retired reporter from Rimrock, Ariz., who transcribed these oral histories. “It is no surprise that this particular image became so famous, as it is symbolic of the end of a horrendous war where millions of lives were lost.  Because this was not a ‘staged’ photo but a candid moment, it captured the genuine raw emotions of joy and euphoria felt by all Americans that day.”

Mendonsa had been stationed in the Pacific during World War II and he saw firsthand the importance of nurses when his ship, the USS The Sullivans, rescued and transported hundreds of wounded sailors from the USS Bunker Hill, which was hit by a kamikaze airplane, to the hospital ship, the USS Bountiful.

“It was interesting to learn the reason behind why the sailor kissed the nurse, especially as his future wife was present with him!” said Rowland. “He believes that if this woman in Times Square did not have a nurse’s uniform on, he would never have grabbed and kissed her. It was a purely spontaneous act.”

There was some controversy surrounding this photo because the kiss did not seem consensual, as indicated by the woman’s body language and clenched fist. However, Friedman set the record straight in her interview.

“It was just somebody really celebrating. But it wasn’t a romantic event.  It was just an event of ‘thank God the war is over’ kind of thing because it was right in front of the sign,” Friedman told her interviewer, Patricia Redmond.

Rowland has transcribed more than 45 oral histories since 2012, but transcribing these two histories was a little different.

“Because of my familiarity with the photo, I was intrigued to learn the story behind the photo and wondered how the notoriety impacted their lives, these oral history interviews being conducted 60 years after the event,” said Rowland. “In that sense, initially these interviews were of a greater interest for me, and I was excited to have the opportunity to transcribe them.”

“But when the interview turned from George Mendonsa, The Kissing Sailor, to George Mendonsa, the World War II veteran relating his military career, the story brought back to the forefront the realization that all our veterans have a story of their unique contributions serving our nation, and the Veterans History Project gives them voice, even after they are no longer with us.”

To learn more about the Veterans History Project and how you can get involved transcribing histories, visit NCRA.org/vetsor contact NCRF’s Foundation Manager, April Weiner at aweiner@ncra.org.

NCRA’s 2016 Convention & Expo: Something for everyone

Convention-JCRcom-BoxAdOnline registration for NCRA 2016 Convention & Expo happening at the Hilton Chicago, Chicago, Ill., Aug. 4-7, closes July 29, so hurry and register now to participate in the vast array of continuing education sessions, networking opportunities, certification preparation workshops for the Certified Realtime Reporter and the Realtime Systems Administrator, and, of course, all that’s new on the Expo floor.

Whether you are an official, freelancer, broadcast or CART captioner, legal videographer, educator, student, or legal services provider, this year’s schedule has something to help you be the architect of your future. Plus attendees who need CEUs can earn up to 2.45 of them with a full registration and optional workshops.

Among the educational session highlights are:

Freelancer business 101. Presenters: Lisa DiMonte, RMR, CMRS; Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS; Marjorie Peters, RMR, CRR; and Dave Tackla, CLVS

Compassion fatigue and job stress. Presenter: April Kopp, LCSW, MFA

Your cloud-based office. Presenters: Nancy Bistany, RPR and Kim Neeson, RPR, CRR, CRC

The secret business of court reporting. Presenter: Debbie Bridges Duffy, RPR

Beyond the captions:  Captioner roundtable. Presenters: Merilee Johnson, RMR, CRR, CRC; Bill Graham; and Deanna Baker, FAPR, RMR

90 apps in 90 minutes. Presenter: Sara Wood, CAE

Tax tips for court reporters. Presenter: Charlotte Ogorek

Best practices for realtime reporting. Presenters: Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC; Christine Phipps, RPR; and Sandy VanderPol, FAPR, RMR, CRR

Anywhere, anytime:  Online testing. Presenter: Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE

Are you an independent contractor or an employee? Presenter: Chris Wojcicki

Video equipment configuration:  Real world equipment setups. Presenters: Richard Hayden, CLVS, and Jason Levin, CLVS

In addition, students, educators, and school administrators will enjoy a selection of sessions tailored specifically to their interests and needs.

Other highlights for the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo include professional speaker and humorist John Wagner, who will address the topic of “Pride in the Profession” when he takes the stage as the keynote presenter during the Premier Session; the national Speed and Realtime Contests; the installation of NCRA’s 2016-2017 Officers and Board of Directors; and the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award, the highest award bestowed by NCRA. Networking opportunities will include receptions, the annual awards and NCRF Angels luncheons, and the President’s Party.

Remember, the deadline for online registration is July 29. For more information and to register for the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo, visit NCRA.org/Convention.

Submitting CEU forms is easier with NCRA’s online system

computer keyboard

Photo by: Anonymous Account

NCRA members can save money and time by submitting their Continuing Education and Professional Development forms online via the Association’s online submission system.

Submitting CEU forms using the online system is fast, secure, and costs only $45 dollars for members and $75 for nonmembers. As of Feb. 1, forms submitted via fax, regular mail, or email will incur an additional $25 processing fee in addition to the fees noted above.

NCRA’s certification page provides all the necessary information about the required CEUs and PDCs, as well as the necessary forms to verify units, cycle extensions, missing credits, seminar preapproval, and more.

The field of court reporting and captioning demands that its practitioners acquire and maintain a broad base of knowledge. For more information and to learn how to submit your education and professional development activities online, visit NCRA.org/CEUforms.

Save the date for great NCRA learning opportunities


Photo by: Dafne Cholet

NCRA staff members are planning great ways for members to earn CEUs this year. NCRA members can also earn CEUs by passing the skills or written portion of certain tests, such as the RMR, RDR, CRR, or CLVS exams. Here is a short selection of dates and events (dates are subject to change).

Jan. 31             Cycle extension deadline

March 11-13   CLVS Seminar and CLVS production skills test, Reston, Va.

March 19-20   NCRA Board of Directors Meeting, Reston, Va.

March 20-22   2016 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp, Reston, Va.

April 4-20        RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS written knowledge test dates

April 17-19      2016 Firm Owners Executive Conference, San Juan, P.R.

July 9-21          RPR and CLVS written knowledge test dates

Aug. 4-7           2016 NCRA Convention & Expo, Chicago, Ill. (includes the Legal Video Conference, the CRC Workshop, and the National Speed and Realtime Contests)

Sept. 30           Submission deadline for CEUs and PDCs for members with a 9/30/16 cycle ending

Oct. 7-19         RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS written knowledge tests

Court Reporting & Captioning Week (Feb. 14-20), Memorial  Day (May 30), and Veterans Day (Nov. 11) are also all good opportunities to schedule Veterans History Project Days to earn PDCs. And don’t forget that online skills testing is available year round.

In addition, NCRA is planning webinars throughout the year, which will be announced in the JCR Weekly and on NCRA social media as they are available. Watch for more information in the JCR, the JCR Weekly, and on TheJCR.com for registration, deadlines, and other ideas to earn continuing education.

NCRA member reflects on her experiences with NCRF and the Veterans History Project

Veteran in uniform saluting

Photo by Fort Rucker

What do you picture when you think of NCRF’s popular partnership with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project? For NCRF staff, it’s not what so much as who comes to mind, and the answer is people like Nancy Rowland, RPR (Ret.). The now-retired court reporter from Arizona is one of the Veterans History Project’s biggest supporters, having completed 33 transcripts since 2012.

Rowland initially heard of the VHP through articles in the JCR.

“Although my interest was piqued,” Rowland says, “[I was] then working full time in Washington, D.C., [and] I pulled the lame excuse card of being too busy.”

After her husband’s retirement prompted a cross-country move to rural Arizona, a fellow court reporter shared her experience at a VHP Day. This time, Rowland, the daughter of a Korean War vet and daughter-in-law of a World War II vet, jumped at the chance to get involved.

“Unfortunately, my father passed away before my involvement in the VHP,” Rowland says, “so his personal story was not told. My father-in-law is alive and well, so in 2012, conducting his interview was top priority.”

This gave Rowland (and her husband, as the interviewer) the opportunity to learn more about her father-in-law’s service.

“[My father-in-law] was not one to freely discuss his war experiences. But framed and hung on the wall in the back corner of his rec room was his Bronze Star Medal,” Rowland says. “Because the VHP opened the door for his interview to be conducted, we now have a better understanding of why he earned the Bronze Star and, in turn, we gained some insight into how he endured horrific war experiences. Even though we always admired him as a loving family man, learning more about his military experiences served to strength our admiration.”

After capturing her father-in-law’s story, Rowland continued to transcribe prerecorded accounts from the Library of Congress’ collection. Transcribing these histories has been just as gratifying for her as preserving her own family’s stories.

“Of course, there is the element of curiosity and desire to know your personal family history,” Rowland says. “Otherwise, I haven’t experienced a difference in transcribing other veterans’ stories. Once you hear their voices or see them on video, their stories become real and equally important.”

“The most rewarding part for me is in regards to the families of the veterans,” she explains. “For generations to come, the families will have access to their stories, read their words, hear their audio, and, for some, even see the video. The families can be very proud of these great Americans, their ancestors.”

Even though Rowland has completed so many histories, details from the veterans’ experiences stay with her.

“Every story has left its mark on me,” Rowland says. “Recently while touring Europe, I had a different perspective. While driving through Romania, we happened upon the Ploesti Oil Fields, and it immediately brought to mind the WWII veteran who flew bombing missions over the Ploesti Oil Fields. One of the days became known as Black Sunday because of all the lives lost.”

Three of the veterans whose accounts she transcribed were POWs.

“One spent five years in the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ during Vietnam, one spent three months on the Death March across Germany in WWII, and the third was also a POW during WWII,” Rowland says. “I am at a loss to understand how they endured the physical and mental torture of being a POW.

“Interestingly, they all stated the worst part of being a POW was ‘losing your freedom,’ which I think we take for granted in our everyday lives,” Rowland continues. “The veterans who recounted their experience of being on troop ships coming home, entering New York Harbor and crowding the deck rails to view the Statue of Liberty, leave me with a powerful image.”

Transcribing these stories, as well as the many others, honors and pays tribute to what veterans have endured.

“To those heroic men and women who sacrificed their lives or have been injured in their tireless efforts to preserve the freedom that I enjoy, I am forever grateful,” said Rowland.

Since her retirement in 2013, Rowland has continued to transcribe about one to two histories a month, on average. As a Lifetime Retired Member, Rowland no longer needs the PDCs reporters can earn for transcribing a history; she does it to preserve the record, just as she did as a working court reporter.

“For 37 years I worked hard at my profession being the keeper of the record, but I feel now I am doing my best work yet and encourage others to get involved in the Veterans History Project.”

For more information about how to participate in the VHP, please visit NCRA.org/vets.

Top five errors to avoid when submitting continuing education credits online

NCRA launched the online continuing education system on June 1 as a way for our members to more easily submit their continuing education credits. For the most part, the new process has been smooth, but there are a few common errors to keep in mind when submitting credits.

  1. Submitting the credits under the wrong category. For activities that fall under the PDC category for credits (see Article IV of the CEU Rules), answer “No” to the question “Did you take a course, Online or In Person?” All PDC submissions have to be reviewed before they can appear on a transcript.Submitting CEUs online_1
  2. Submitting incomplete paperwork. All submissions must include proof of completion, and most should also include a course outline or syllabus. Programs listed on our Distance Learning page only need the proof of completion. In particular, submissions for Realtime Coach practice times need to include the weekly logs for the times submitted.
  3. Not having all the paperwork in one file for submission. The online submission process will only accept one document, so all items should be scanned into one document. Multiple files result in incomplete paperwork.
  4. Entering numbers in the wrong format or adding text to the “Total hours of instruction” field. Only numbers in a decimal format can be entered in the “Total hours of instruction” field. In this example, the hours should have been entered as 4.5. Anything other than a decimal leads to a “NaN” error message in the “CEU Total” field, which is a self-populating field – see example below.Submitting CEUs online_2
  5. Supporting document attachment is too large. Image files, particularly color images, can get very large. The online system cannot accept a file larger than 5120 kilobytes. Attempting to attach a document that is too large will result in either 1) an error message preventing the user from continuing to the payment page (like the example below) or 2) a message from NCRA that the documents weren’t attached.Submitting CEUs online_3

Bonus: While this is not an error, posting JCR article tests online using the online submission process is more expensive than taking JCR article tests via NCRA’s online testing system. Members save $15 in submissions by using the online test system. Visit the JCR article test page for more information and links.

E-seminar review: Online skills testing — See it for yourself

In the e-seminar, Online skills testing — See it for yourself, Marybeth Everhart discusses important testing procedures for online testing. Everhart, national marketing manager at Realtime Coach, is joined by Amy Davidson from NCRA’s testing department and Steven Carman also from Realtime Coach.

Everhart starts the e-seminar reviewing necessary equipment, the steps in taking an online test, and the differences from taking a test in person. She goes through the step-by-step process by showing different screens, including one of the most important parts: how to connect with the online proctor.

Amy Davidson, from NCRA’s testing department, answers questions related to NCRA. She discusses how many times the test is offered per calendar year and how long a tester needs to wait between taking more than one test. Davidson adds, “You can take two different tests on the same day, if you allow enough time between tests for authentication and checking in.”

Everhart continues and explains which items can be on the desk during the test. She also reviews all the steps, from the identification process through the shredding of the sample created for the test. There are many benefits of taking an online test, Everhart states. “Taking a test online allows you to choose a day and time that best suits you, in an environment that’s most comfortable for you. Plus, you get immediate feedback on test you just submitted.”

For more information about online testing, visit NCRA.org/testing.

This e-seminar is now available.

NCRF gives NCRA members opportunity to earn PDCs with Oral Histories Program

Uniformed soldier holding a flagAs the Sept. 30 educational cycle deadline looms, NCRA members are looking for ways to earn last-minute credits.

For these reporters, the National Court Reporters Foundation has the perfect solution: the Oral Histories Program. The OHP offers NCRA members an opportunity to advance the stature of the profession to the general public while giving back to the community. For each oral history transcribed, reporters earn 0.25 Professional Development Credit, up to 1.0 PDC, during a certification cycle. And the only expense is the reporter’s time! To date, NCRA members have transcribed almost 3,800 histories from NCRF’s OHP partners, and NCRF hopes to raise that number to 4,000 by Memorial Day 2016.

The OHP began with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project in 2003. Through the VHP, the LOC has a collection of almost 90,000 histories, including oral histories from veterans. In the interest of preserving written records of these oral histories, the LOC partnered with NCRF to recruit court reporters to transcribe these histories; because who is better suited for this job?

Since then, the OHP has expanded from war veterans’ stories to include oral histories from Holocaust survivors and attorneys who have provided pro bono services to America’s poor. In addition to transcribing prerecorded oral histories, reporters can also record the stories from veterans in their families and communities through personal interviews or by hosting VHP Days.

The OHP isn’t just for reporters looking for PDCs. The benefits extend far beyond education credits, as the program serves the greater purpose of preserving important pieces of American history.

Students should take note of the OHP, too. If students transcribe two oral histories, NCRF will pay for or reimburse a student membership in NCRA.

What are you waiting for? Sign up to transcribe an oral history today!

For details on how to participate, visit NCRA.org/OralHistoriesProgram.

E-seminar review: Disability insurance

In the informative e-seminar, Disability insurance and retirement planning, Mike Diers and Nick Hague cover disability income benefits, estimated costs associated with them, and the importance of planning for the future. Diers has more than 31 years’ experience in financial and retirement planning and investment management. Hague, president of Lifetime Financial Resources, advises on life and health insurance products that include long-term care planning, annuity solutions, and life insurance.

The seminar begins with how to protect a person’s income and financial future. It’s important to have a solid base, starting with the foundation and moving up. Diers says, “Sometimes we don’t think about being disabled and not being able to work. If you don’t have disability coverage, how will you replace your income? Chances of disability are greater than you think,” he adds. Diers also reviews the importance of income protection and reminds court reporters that even if an employee offers long-term disability, it’s only a percentage of our current salary.

Hague continues with the rest of the seminar and discusses how income is our most valuable asset. He states, “If something happens to you, how will your family replace your earning power? Life insurance is the best option to supplement some of that income loss.” Hague reviews how to determine how much life insurance is needed by analyzing goals and objectives. He also discusses the different types of insurances and their advantages and disadvantages.

This e-seminar is now available.

Note: The retirement planning part of the e-seminar will now be part of a separate e-seminar at a later date.