VITAC to hold captioning webinar

The Sports Video Group News posted an article on Sept. 12 about an upcoming webinar being hosted by VITAC about the benefits of captioning.

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Statement from the NCRA CEO: Sinclair Broadcast Group

By Marcia Ferranto

NCRA exists to represent, protect, and advocate for the stenographic professions of court reporting and captioning. Here at NCRA, everything we do, everything we fight for, and the very reason we fight are founded by the core belief that stenography is the most effective and efficient means of capturing the spoken word, the best way of providing speech-to-text services in any forum, and the only way to satisfy the needs and protect the integrity of the institutions and consumers who rely on it. This belief has been borne out by the facts time and time again: Stenographic court reporting and captioning is faster, more accurate, and more dependable than artificial intelligence-based alternatives and other alternatives solely based on technology, and, in addition, it is largely preferred by the consumers of these services. Stenographic court reporting is the backbone of the American court system, and stenographic captioning is an invaluable accessibility service to people who are deaf or who have hearing loss.

Recently, Sinclair Broadcast Group has made public their decision to abandon the use of stenographic captions in favor of the cost-cutting measure of implementing the automatic speech recognition (ASR) platform using IBM Watson. This decision is likely to impact hundreds of local news stations and affect millions of captioning consumers and providers. In a message to the public, IBM claims that Watson makes live programming “more accessible to local viewers, including the Deaf community, senior citizens, and anyone experiencing hearing loss.” We strongly disagree with the decision to abandon the human element of captioning in favor of automation, which invariably produces subpar captioning and will negatively affect accessibility to local news for millions of Americans.

NCRA’s Government Relations Department and Captioning Regulatory Policy Committee, our own member-formed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) watchdog, are working hard to address this issue, to register our concerns with the FCC, and to implore them to uphold important captioning quality standards in light of this new transition to ASR captioning.

But the FCC needs to hear from you, too!

  1. Complain online here about subpar captions.
  2. Sign our petition and tell Sinclair you want live captioners.
  3. If you have evidence of captioning failures, photos or videos of terrible captioning, we want to see it. You can send them to Matt Barusch, NCRA’s Government Relations Manager.

With your help, together we can ensure that live programming utilizes the best captioning that can be offered: Captioning by a live, trained, and certified captioner.

Marcia Ferranto is CEO and Executive Director of the National Court Reporters Association. 

2018 Realtime Contest winner Mark Kislingbury shares his story

2018 NCRA Realtime Contest Winner Mark Kislingbury

NCRA member Mark Kislingbury, FAPR, RDR, CRR, owner of Magnum Steno from Houston, Texas, won the 2018 National Realtime Contest held during the Association’s Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La. It is his fifth Realtime Contest win. This win ties the record for most wins in the NCRA Realtime Contest with 2017-2018 Contests Committee co-chair Jo Ann Bryce, RMR, CRR, of Castro Valley, Calif. Kislingbury’s overall score was 99.24 percent.

Kislingbury placed second in the literary leg with a 99.20 percent accuracy rate, and first in the Q&A leg with a 99.28 percent accuracy rate.

The JCR Weekly recently reached out to him to find out more about what motivates him, how he prepares to compete, and how he learned about court reporting as a career.

JCR | In what area of the profession do you work?
KISLINGBURY | What I do does not actually fit into any of those groups! Most of my professional writing is for a national political radio program where the Web team for that program wants instant transcripts so they can post verbatim transcripts on their site. This demands accurate realtime so that I only have to make a few edits/corrections on commercial breaks and send that segment at the end of the commercial break. I also work for that same program before each particular show transcribing “sound bites” taken from television so that the host may have verbatim transcripts of those sound bites. Occasionally I still do broadcast captioning and will take a freelance job or a remote CART job.

JCR | How long have you been in the profession?
KISLINGBURY | 35 years.

JCR | How did you learn about the profession?
KISLINGBURY | I was a junior in high school in a Gregg shorthand class when a rep from the nearest court reporting school visited our class and showed us a brand-new olive green steno machine with shiny black keys. She told us you could graduate in two years, make a high salary right away, and that 95 percent of the students were girls. What’s to not like?

JCR | How many national contests have you participated in?
KISLINGBURY | I competed in NCRA Speed Contests from 1995 through 2010 (16 of them), and since 1999 I have competed in 18 of the 20 NCRA Realtime Contests.

JCR | Do you compete both in the Realtime and the Speed contests??
KISLINGBURY | I used to compete in both, but from 2011 through today I have not competed in an NCRA Speed Contest. I do enjoy competing in the California DRA Realtime Contests.

JCR | What motivates you to compete?
KISLINGBURY | I suppose it’s the pursuit of excellence. The pursuit of excellence seems to be a universal human value that contributes to overall happiness, self-esteem, and well-being. Since I love teaching court reporters and students to help them improve, I think that winning contests (where I have been fortunate enough to do so) lends added credibility to what I am teaching.

JCR | How did it feel to win this year?
KISLINGBURY | It felt great because it was the culmination of a lot of hard work in the practice room. There are so many amazing realtime competitors out there nowadays that it is extremely hard to win! And it’s so easy to “have a bad day” in the realtime contest. I believe only nine different individuals have won the NCRA realtime contest in its 20 years of existence! And only four have won it multiple times.

JCR | Do you plan to continue to compete at the national level?
KISLINGBURY | Absolutely!

JCR | What advice would you give someone who is considering competing at the national level?
KISLINGBURY | It’s fun! Do it for the experience, for the pursuit of excellence, not “to win.” It takes the pressure off if you have the attitude: “I just want to try my best and see what happens.” The other competitors are friendly and encouraging. Your first goal may well be to simply “qualify” in one of the two legs. (Qualifying means 95 percent accuracy or above.) Qualifying means you get ranked in a group of elite Realtime (or Speed) Contest reporters!

JCR | How far in advance do you begin to practice for the national contests?
KISLINGBURY | When I was competing in speed contests, I would start at least three months ahead of time. For the realtime contest, I start practicing 365 days ahead of the contest!

JCR | What is your practice routine to prep for these contests?
KISLINGBURY | For the realtime contest, generally I write a 5-minute take at around 280 and keep slowing it down in 5 percent increments until it’s about 225. The whole time I’m striving to write each stroke instantly, without ever getting behind. The “instant” takes precedence over “accuracy.” I generally write the take 7-8 times. By the time I quit, I’m realtiming it virtually perfectly. That takes 35-45 minutes. Then I take a break. The next time I practice, it’s a new take, same routine.

If I were doing the speed contest again, I would do the same practice regimen except start much faster than 280 and slow it down incrementally until it reached 280, doing each take 7-8 times before moving on.

JCR | Do you compete at the state level as well?
KISLINGBURY | Currently, only at the California Deposition Reporters Realtime Contests, which tend to be every February. I used to compete in the Texas Speed Contest in the 1990s. For many years I have chaired the Texas Court Reporters Association Realtime Contest and continue to do so to this day.

JCR | Is there anything else you would like to share?
KISLINGBURY | I have started a court reporting school, the Mark Kislingbury Academy of Court Reporting, in Houston, Texas. We opened in 2011. We have both on-site and online programs. Our first nine graduates (who started brand-new with us) have averaged one year and 10 months! Four of the nine were online students. I teach students my very short Magnum Steno Theory. There are several dozen happy and prospering professional reporters in the field who learned my theory. Many of them are providing realtime and/or captioning. I am attempting to do my small part to try to fix our nationwide court reporter shortage.

Dreaming of earning the CRC?

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

To earn a CRC, candidates must:

  • Take the CRC Workshop, which is now offered online as an on-demand e-seminar and can be taken anytime
  • Pass the CRC Skills Test (literary matter at 180 wpm) at 96 percent accuracy, which is offered online and can be taken anytime
  • Pass a 50-question CRC Written Knowledge Test, which can be taken at a Pearson VUE testing center in October (registration opens in September)

Throughout this process, CRC candidates will gain a solid foundation for understanding what it takes to be a captioner.

Interested? Registration for the online CRC Workshop, Skills Test, and Written Knowledge Test are currently open. More information is available online at NCRA.org/testing.

Captioning word of the month: .500

Steve Clark

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

Our term this month, .500, comes from practically every sport. While this is a pretty straightforward term and an easy definition, the added definition of 1.000 usually trips us up. The definition of 1.000 is included at the end.


.500

(baseball, NASCAR, basketball)

Definition

Having the same number in both one category and its opposite category; for example, having the same number of wins as losses.  A team that has won six games and lost six games has a .500 record.  A basketball player who has shot the ball four times and made two of those shots is shooting .500.

Usage     

“After a very shaky start, this team shows promise and is now playing .500 ball.”

“Rodriguez has been up to bat 10 times in his career against this pitcher, hitting the ball five times.  If you can hit .500 against this guy, you’re doing all right, I’d say.”

“Johnson has tried to pass Gordon on that outside lap twice and succeeded once.  You could say this racer is sitting at .500, I guess.”

1.000

This is heard quite often in baseball, as in “He’s batting 1.000.”  This is often spoken as “he’s batting a thousand.”  For clarity when captioning, I tend to write “he’s batting 1.000” even when spoken as “he’s batting a thousand.”   This is one of those terms that has become a part of our everyday jargon, meaning someone has been perfect at something.

NCRA member Mark Kislingbury shows off his fast fingers on local New Orleans News with a Twist

WGNO news reporter Kenny Lopez with NCRA member Mark Kislingbury

NCRA member and Guinness world record holder Mark Kislingbury, FAPR, RDR, CRR, from Houston, Texas, was featured in a segment on ABC affiliate WGNO that aired Aug. 8. The interview took place during NCRA’s 2018 Convention & Expo held in New Orleans Aug. 2-5, where Kislingbury also won the National Realtime Contest.

Watch here.

Realtime captioning listed as one of several ways museums can serve disabled visitors

An article posted July 30 by The Sentinel, Carlisle, Pa., noted that realtime captioning is just one of several ways museums can assist visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing, and notes that the 9/11 Museum and Memorial and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York offer this service.

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Red Bulls score with scoreboard closed-captioning initiative

The Jersey Journal reported on Aug. 4, that the New York Red Bulls, the major league soccer team, is now using closed-captioning on the scoreboard of its Arena in Harrison, N.J.

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How to write super fast under stress

A blog posted on Aug. 2, by Kramm Court Reporting, addresses how the points made in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “The Uncomfortable Practice Habits of a Champion,” about Francesco Molinari’s win at the British Open Golf Championship, can be applied to court reporters and court reporting students.

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NCRA members interviewed by local news in New Orleans

Erminia Uviedo and Donna Karoscik

On Aug. 1, NCRA members Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, CRC, an official court reporter from San Antonio, Texas, and Donna Karoscik, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter from Lancaster, Ohio, were interviewed by station WWLTV Channel 4 in New Orleans about the court reporting and captioning profession and what it’s like to compete in the national Realtime Contest.

Watch here.