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.

Behind the Scenes of the Speed and Realtime Contests

NCRA 's 2016 CASE Award of Excellence Winner was Kelly Moranz of Cuyahoga Community College

Speed and Realtime Contests Committee member Kelly Moranz

Each year during the NCRA Convention & Expo, a few dedicated members sit behind closed doors working on the Speed and Realtime Contests. Their tasks include feverishly reviewing hundreds of papers from the contestants, poring over them for grading, creating lists of qualifiers for each of the legs, and more. It’s a lot of work, but when we sat down with Contests Committee members Pat Miller, CRI, CPE, and Kelly Moranz, CRI, to learn everything we always wanted to know about the Speed and Realtime Contests, they said that they have fun, learn a lot, and that they enjoy connecting with each other and the contestants after months of planning.

How many individual legs do you grade for the Speed and Realtime Contests?
The Committee grades every leg that is submitted after the contests. Every passing leg is ranked as a qualifier. Only contestants who pass one leg in each category are eligible to place for a medal. A contestant could place first in the Realtime literary leg but not qualify in the Realtime testimony. Recognition will be given for the stellar literary skill but the person is not eligible for a medal.

How do you protect the papers so you don’t know whose work it is?
Contestants are randomly assigned an ID number that is known only to the Committee Chair(s) and the contestants themselves, of course. It’s not perfect, but the Committee does not try to link the ID with the contestant at registration. We want to be as surprised as the members attending the Awards Luncheon. It’s exciting to grade the papers and to see the amazing skill of our colleagues. An exception is made for Canadian members who opt to transcribe using British variant spellings as allowed by the Merriam-Webster dictionary (colour instead of color). Contestants who are eligible for this option do sign a form that makes it clear they will not remain anonymous to graders. We want to give back as many points as we possibly can within the What is an Error? Contests guidelines. We just grade the words and punctuation, not the people.

Why do contestants talk about qualifying instead of passing or failing?
Contests are definitely not a pass/fail situation. Any member who schleps their equipment to the NCRA Convention & Expo, days ahead of the Convention at additional cost, time away from work, and after whatever practice the member may have added to preparation for the Contests, does not ever pass or fail. Let’s get real. How especially extra awesome are these members? Contestants have and give a great showing of skill every year.

We use the term “qualifier” for Contests. Contestants either qualify or do not qualify. More contestants qualify than do not on both literary selections and both testimony selections. If there is a leg on which fewer people qualify than not, it is definitely legal opinion.

What happens with the papers that don’t qualify? And, conversely, what happens to the papers that do?
Every leg that is submitted for grading is graded and marked with a summation of results, final grade initialed by the Committee Co-chairs. Papers that do not qualify are marked “DNQ.” We attempt to mark all folders with polite-sized digits and letters so that contestants may keep their results private-ish when they review their grades after the Awards Luncheon.

Of course, this is a contest where participants expect scores to be made public. All of the qualifiers names and scores are posted after the Awards ceremony. While the Committee does not talk about individual member results – qualifier or not – the contestants may do as they wish.

What kind of checks do you do on the audio and what do you grade against?
We have checkers in the Contests rooms who have copies of the material that will be dictated. They mark any variations, stutters, kerfuffels, and any other such events on the script as best they can. When the Committee meets after the Contests, the checkers compare their findings against the master transcripts. Notations are made so that the Co-chairs can make final decisions on how those sections will be handled in grading. If we do record the audio, then the audio is also compared to the master transcript for any additional adjustments.

Realtime Coach will make changes in the master transcript that is loaded into their system before beginning the grading process.

Are there areas where there is more than one right answer? How do you deal with that? What if there’s a slip by the speaker?
Yes, there is more than one “right” answer. There are places where more than one punctuation choice is acceptable. This is why the computer grading is called “first grade.” It gives a great assessment of each transcript and saves a huge chunk of time for the graders. An instant accuracy percentage is given to determine qualification for second grading. A second grade is critical and so the graders review each transcript to determine whether or not it had areas that prevented the computer analysis from making an accurate assessment. During this time if there is a “trend” of some sort noted in a consistent error, it will be reviewed as to the possibility of it being correct. If that is the case, the number of errors would be reduced for that test.

Sometimes there are third and fourth grades of papers. Each round is in a different color pen and is initialed by the person who graded. When there are enough Committee members present, we do not regrade a paper with the grader who did the prior pass. The Contest Co-chairs have final say in any error/not an error determination and in how to grade areas where a speaker “slipped.”

A Canadian won the Speed Contest most recently. Did he use any Canadian spellings? How do you deal with that? Are those considered absolutely wrong?
They are only wrong if you are not Canadian. Yes, he did use British variants. He also was informed of the grading policy and formally agreed to it. We require consistency for those papers, too. If the contestant wants to use British variants, they cannot also have the companion American variant in the paper even if it would be an acceptable spelling in other contestants’ papers.

Why are the percentages figured out to so many decimal points?
I’m about to do math. Three contestants with three errors, the top three results in the Contest. Realtime contestant A has one error on the LRT (literary realtime) and two errors on the TRT (testimony realtime). Contestant B has two on LRT and one on TRT. Contestant C has zero on LRT and three on TRT.

LRT = 1000 words minus 1 error equals 99.90.
TRT = 1125 words minus 2 errors equals 99.82
99.20 + 99.82 / 2 = 99.860 for Contestant A

LRT = 1000 – 2 = 99.80
TRT = 1125 – 1 = 99.91
99.80 + 99.91 / 2 = 99.855 for Contestant B

LRT = 1000 – 0 = 100.00
TRT = 1125 – 3 = 99.73
100.00 + 99.73 / 2 = 99.865 for Contestant C

Stating the obvious, all three qualify in both categories and so are eligible for the medal round.

Standings for three contestants with an equal error count:
LRT: Blue ribbon to C; Red to A; White to B
TRT: Blue ribbon to B; Red to A; White to C
Champion Level: in third place, B; in second place, A; Champion, C, with a difference of no error but .005 in the score.

Although all three contestants have the same number of errors – a total of three in both legs – whether they are made in the literary or testimony leg will make a difference in the overall score.

What qualifications do you need to be a grader?
If you volunteer to be on the Committee, you will be expected to help grade. It helps if you graded NCRA certification exams, have an open mind, can leave your ego and personal judgment about what “should” be done at the door, and have a great sense of humor. You must absolutely be able to be completely confidential in all dealings from the moment you join the Committee to the announcement of the scores at the Awards Luncheon. You must be available to put the time into grading, which means arriving at the Convention early in order to participate and to begin grading as soon as Realtime Coach completes the first round of grading. You will want to know the What is an Error? Contests guidelines comfortably and be able to check them quickly for guidance. To recap: We grade words and punctuation, not people. We go with the style we’re given and enjoy doing something we may not ordinarily do in our own (saleable) transcripts.

Graders must be able to “defend” their choices to the contestants at the postmortem. Of course, not every grader will attend the postmortem, but we must answer to our decisions. We do make mistakes. We have nightmares and daymares and agita, tsuris, and plain old anxiety about mistakes. When a mistake is pointed out to us, we feel a professional disappointment in ourselves that is probably not as bad as the feeling the contestant had that they had one fewer error than was marked. Graders need to be self-healing, fairly confident people who understand that excellence is sought but not always achieved by graders as well as contestants.

But mostly – did I mention that we laugh a lot? Not at the contestants – ever. But sometimes a translation is quite entertaining. It could also have to do with the lack of sleep involved! We’re court reporters. Words are our playthings. Graders also get to glory in the beauty of skill that presents us with some amazing transcripts. It’s a hard, busy time, but it’s an awesome time to be among your colleagues.

 

Registration for the Speed and Realtime Contests is open until all the seats are filled (and the Contests sell out every year). Visit NCRA.org/Convention to register online or complete and return the downloadable Convention Registration form to NCRA.

Stephen King’s ‘Mr. Mercedes’ seeks stenographer for finale episode

The final episode of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes is being filmed at the Manning Courthouse in Manning, S.C., according to an article posted June 8 by the postandcourier.com, and the production company is seeking a stenographer with their machine as an extra.

Read more.

PROMOTING THE PROFESSION: Passion for captioning and court reporting showcased at high school career day

Cindi Lynch

Earlier this spring, Cindi Lynch, training program manager for Stenograph, based in Elmhurst Ill., and Sharon Vartanian, RPR, a district sales manager for the company, spent a few hours promoting the captioning and court reporting professions at a career day held at Prospect High School in Saratoga. Calif. Lynch, who is well-known for her enthusiasm for the court reporting profession, has a sister-in-law who teaches English at the high school. She passed along Lynch’s information to one of the school’s career specialists. Lynch was asked if she would give a presentation to a group of their students, and she readily accepted. Vartanian, who represents Stenograph in the area, and Lynch also enlisted the help of NCRA member Maggie Ortiz, manager of the court reporting program at West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif., and Tobi Giluso, a high-speed student from the program.

Sharon Vartanian

 

JCR | What did you do to prepare?

SV | Cindi put the word out on social media and spoke with people working with the A to Z program and with Project Steno to get their input on similar presentations they had done in the past. Cindi took that information and then put together a brief presentation based on the information she had gathered.

CL | Sharon thought it would be a great idea if we asked the court reporting program at the local college to also participate in the presentation, and she took on the task of gathering representatives from West Valley College to join us.

 

JCR | What was the event like?

SV | Cindi’s presentation focused on what a court reporter is, where and how reporters, captioners and CART providers work, and the basic principles of machine shorthand.

Tobi captioned the presentation. She did an excellent job, and the high school students were able to see firsthand the skills of a reporter/captioner. (Tobi has passed all her qualifiers and will be taking the state exam this July.)

Maggie Ortiz, court reporting program manager, talked about West Valley College’s specific program and gave current information about earning potential in the local area. In 2017, West Valley also started offering a free court reporting course through Silicon Valley Adult Education. Maggie explained how the high school students could immediately take advantage of this free course before graduating high school to learn the theory of steno writing. The course is designed to give students a head start in the West Valley court reporting program.

There was a small, but very interested, group of juniors and seniors in attendance, as well as parents, teachers, and teacher aides. We were pleased that we had a wide range of panelists to answer questions during the Q&A session. Maggie addressed school questions, Tobi answered student and CART questions, and Sharon was able to address working as a freelance court reporter.

 

JCR | How did it go? Did people seem interested?

CL | We were really pleased with the presentation and how warmly it was received. Both the students and the adults were very interested. We were asked a lot of thoughtful, smart questions and it was clear to us that they had paid close attention to the information they’d been given.

We brought a few Luminex writers with us. At the end of the presentation, the students eagerly waited in line to have their first experience of writing on a steno machine.

 

JCR | You are both such professionals, you’re probably prepared for anything. But did anything surprise you? Can you tell us about that?

CL and SV | No surprises. We put a lot of effort into being well prepared. We were delighted we had male and female attendees.

One person we had consulted while preparing for the presentation advised us to bring food, especially candy for the kids. We rewarded the attendees for asking questions by giving them candy bars. While we know rewarding for candy works, we were amazed at how well it works.

 

JCR | What advice would you give others about telling people about careers in court reporting and captioning?

CL and SV | Show your passion for the profession; it’s infectious. The attendees appreciated the fact that all of us who spoke at the event had been around the profession most of our lives and were excited to talk about it. When you love what you do, it definitely comes through. Convey how much support they can expect from the court reporting community. Communicate how much we need them and want them to join us in this fabulous career.

 

JCR | Is there anything else you would like to share?

CL and SV | We were well-received by the teachers and career specialist at Prospect High, and they expressed an interest in having us come back in the future to talk to additional students. They also asked for more information from Maggie so that they could partner with West Valley College. This made us very happy. We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome from our presentation!

 

Cindi Lynch can be reached at CLynch@Stenograph.com. Sharon Vartanian can be reached at SVartanian@Stenograph.com.

Registration is open for 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo

Registration is now open for the NCRA 2018 Convention & Expo taking place Aug. 2-5 at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans, La. The 2018 event coincides with the celebration of the Tricentennial of New Orleans, which carries the theme “One Time in New Orleans” and encourages residents and visitors to write their stories about their time in the city.

The Convention Keynote speaker is Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré (U.S. Army, Ret.). Honoré, a 37-year veteran of active service, 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.

This year’s convention also features a lineup of sessions presented by top leaders in the court reporting, captioning, and legal videography fields. Some of those include the CLVS Certification Workshop, featuring the Intro to CLVS and CLVS Hands-on Training, the Punctuation Workshop, and the ever-popular CRR Boot Camp. Throughout the Convention attendees can earn up to 2.3 CEUs.

Other exciting events that are expected to sell out quickly include the CRC Workshop, the annual Realtime and Speed Contests, and the new Member Recognition Gala that promises a wonderful night of dinner, drinks, dancing, and celebrating NCRA members.

In addition, this year’s VIP upgrade registration includes a ticket to a VIP reception being hosted by 2018-2019 President Sue A. Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, from Springfield, Ohio, and VIP seating at the Member Recognition Gala.

As always, there will be a number of networking opportunities, including receptions, luncheons, and special events on the Expo floor, where vendors will showcase the latest in products and services for the court reporting, captioning, and legal videography professions.

“One of the biggest reasons I attend the Convention is for the opportunity to meet and talk to reporters from around the country,” said Susan M. Hora, RDR, CRR, an official court reporter from Columbus, Ohio. “I have learned that we experience the same issues and we can strategize together on overcoming those issues. It reminds me that I am not alone in this profession. It reinvigorates my spirit.”

Join other court reporting professionals from around the country and abroad for the 2018 NCRA Annual Convention & Expo. The NCRA Convention & Expo is the largest annual gathering of court reporters, captioners, scopists, legal videographers, trial presenters, students, and other legal services professionals.

For more information about the NCRA 2018 Convention & Expo, or to register, visit NCRA.org/Convention. Register before July 20 to avoid late fees. Attendees are also encouraged to reserve hotel rooms for the Convention at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans.

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

PROFILE: James Pence-Aviles, RMR, CRR

James Pence-Aviles, RMR, CRR

James Pence-Aviles, RMR, CRR

Official court reporter
Currently resides in: Imperial Beach, Calif.
Member since: 2005
Graduated from: Court Reporting Institute
Theory: Phoenix Theory

JCR | Why did you decide to earn an NCRA certification?
PENCE-AVILES | I decided to test for the RPR because it was being offered a month before the California CSR exam. I thought it would be good practice for the CSR. I actually thought the RPR was even harder than the CSR! Looking back, it was probably the best career decision I ever made, because I’m now an official in federal court, which requires that you at least have your RPR.

JCR | You competed a few years ago in the Speed Contest. Did that factor in your decision to earn additional certifications?
PENCE-AVILES | It didn’t because I never thought I would be good enough to compete in the Speed Contest. I listened to a few Speed Contest tapes when I was a brand-new reporter, and they blew me away. I never thought I would be able to write at 280 wpm. It wasn’t until I began working in federal court that I seriously began thinking about giving it a shot. People in federal court tend to speak really fast, so it was good practice for the Speed Contest. In 2014, the NCRA convention was being held in San Francisco, not far from where I was working at the time, and my coworker and mentor Jo Ann Bryce, RMR, CRR, encouraged me to give the contest a shot. So I did, and it turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences of my career. It turned out to be a very pleasant and fun experience. It helped that I knew people who were taking it, too. Compared to the CSR, RMR, or CRR, it was a piece of cake! Placing fourth in the 220 Literary and seventh overall was just icing on the cake.

JCR | Have you gotten a job specifically as a result of your certification?
PENCE-AVILES | Yes. In 2014, I applied for a position in the United States District Court in San Francisco, and the CRR was mandatory for that position. In 2015, I transferred to the Federal Court in San Diego, which also requires those certifications.

JCR | Why do you think professional certification is important?
PENCE-AVILES | It’s important because you never know where your career may take you. In 2012, I was laid off from the San Diego Superior Court due to statewide budget cuts, and from there, I did independent contract work in Florida and then ended up in Federal Court in San Francisco, then transferred back home to San Diego a year later. That wouldn’t have been possible without my national certifications. It also helps you stand out from other reporters, and it can lead to better and more lucrative work, especially if you have the realtime certification.

JCR | What would you say to encourage others considering professional certification?
PENCE-AVILES | Get as many certifications as possible. If your state has a CSR, get that CSR and never let it lapse. Also, get as many NCRA certifications as you can, no matter what career path you take, whether it’s an official, freelancer, captioner, teacher, etc. Most importantly, never give up. If it takes you a few tries to get your certs, keep at it. The end result is absolutely worth it.

JCR | What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
PENCE-AVILES | Besides the Speed Contest, I would consider my current assignment in federal court to be my greatest professional accomplishment. I’m currently assigned to the chief judge, who suffers from a rare neurological disorder that affects his speech. I’ve worked for him since 2015, and I’m one of two reporters in our district who is able to understand him. Since 2017, a fellow court reporter and I have been providing realtime of the judge’s statements for the court staff, the attorneys, and the public pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, so everyone can follow along and understand the proceedings. It helps the judge, the attorneys, and the public. It’s a difficult and challenging assignment, but it’s also a very important job and one that I’m proud to do.

PROFILE: Teri C. Gibson, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI

Teri C. Gibson, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI

Teri C. Gibson, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI

Freelance court reporter and CART captioner
Currently resides in: Boston, Mass.
Member since: 1986
Graduated from: Chicago College of Commerce
Theory: Stenographic Theory and Computer Compatible Stenography Theory

JCR | Why did you decide to earn an NCRA certification?
GIBSON | When I was a student in college in Chicago, Ill., to work in Illinois, you had to become certified. So I took the NCRA test back in 1981.

JCR | Why did you decide to freelance?
GIBSON | In the beginning of my career, I wanted to become an official court reporter.
That doesn’t happen right away. You have to get experience.  After six months as a freelance court reporter, I was married and moved to Massachusetts. I worked as a freelance court reporter for many years. I was a hearings stenographer with the Department of Industrial Accidents. I found that job didn’t give me the challenge that I enjoyed as a freelance reporter, so I went back to working as a freelance reporter. Through time, I developed my realtime skills. I worked as a federal official for almost 10 years. I went back to freelance, but this time I went into CART captioning because I loved writing realtime and there was a great need for CART captioners.

JCR | Why was it important for you to earn so many different certifications?
GIBSON | Certifications verify your skill level. As a CART captioner, I wanted that certification because it gives prospective clients the assurance that I am certified and can provide the service.

JCR | Have you gotten a job specifically as a result of your certification?
GIBSON | As a freelancer in Illinois, it was required to become certified. Without it, I would not have been able to work at all. In Massachusetts, I don’t believe it’s required, but having my certification when I did move to Boston, I had no trouble getting work.

JCR | Why do you think professional certification is important?
GIBSON | This allows whoever hires you to know that you have the knowledge and skills to perform the work as a court reporter or as a CART captioner.

JCR | What would you say to others considering professional certification?
GIBSON | Certification is only a baseline for the professional starting their career. Through time as you work as a court reporter or CART captioner, you will improve your knowledge and skill level. I would like to encourage all court reporters to get the CSR or RPR and all CART captioners get the CRR. This allows you to have the basic skills needed to start working as a court reporter or CART captioner.

When writing on the steno machine, there are times we are confronted with really hard-working environments that can cause us to doubt that we have what it takes. When you have difficult working environments and situations, you can handle the stress better and continue to write on the steno machine.

I would also encourage new working court reporters to transcribe their own work and use a proofreader in the beginning so that they can continue to build their stenographic skills and knowledge base. Also, if you are able, take classes or seminars and learn about things that interest you or set a goal for something you may want to do in the future and get ready. Have something that you are passionate about or that you can enjoy outside of court reporting. I say this because court reporting exposes us to the experiences of people who have experienced trauma, broken the law, and very stressful situations; it’s important to have positive and joyful experiences to counterbalance.

JCR | What has been your best work experience so far in your career?
GIBSON | I love working as a court reporter and CART captioner. When working as a CART captioner, the consumers are more appreciative of your skills.

JCR | Is there something else you would like to share?
GIBSON | I am a woman with many talents besides being a stenographer. I am a teacher at heart. I was a Sunday School teacher for more than 25 years. Now I am developing my skills for teaching as a Christian Life Coach, and I am an authorized trainer of the Total Eclipse Software. Through the years, I worked as a fitness instructor. I taught aerobics, step, and spinning. I love to swim, knit, read, listen to audiobooks, and writing. I have four books to complete to publish.

PROFILE: Lindsay Stoker, RPR, CRC

Lindsay Stoker, RPR, CRR

Lindsay Stoker, RPR, CRR

Captioner
Currently resides in: Los Angeles, Calif.
Member since: 2010
Graduated from: Self-taught after school closed when in 200s
Theory: Phoenix Theory

JCR | Why did you decide to earn an certification?
STOKER | The RPR demonstrates that you have the speed and key industry knowledge necessary for the job. The CRC exhibits your accuracy. Together, they show you are committed to the profession and prove you are capable of performing under intense pressure for a specified duration.

JCR | Have you gotten a job specifically as a result of your certification?
STOKER | I have made many new business connections because I had my certifications. Despite the fact that they are not required for captioning, I have found the RPR and CRC certifications to be useful. Those credentials are very important when working with industry outsiders or with new contacts in the profession. It provides instant credibility — a straightforward way to get through the first screening when making an unestablished connection. A demo often follows. Many firms and contacts also require certification as a minimum qualification.

JCR | What would you say to encourage others considering earning professional certification?
STOKER | Embrace failure. These tests are designed to be tough. It took me several attempts before passing, but the reward was so much greater. Don’t be discouraged when you fail an exam. Learn as many lessons as you can from each attempt. Reach out to others and capitalize from their experiences. Change your game plan and try again. If you fail, rinse and repeat. I have achieved the greatest growth in my life from failure.

JCR | What surprised you about your career?
STOKER | When I originally started court reporting school, I was working for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and was certain that I would go into depositions and perhaps an officialship. I had a degree in Criminal Justice Administration. The path ahead seemed clear. What I found instead was that my true passion is in captioning and working with the D/deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. I’m so grateful to have chosen a profession whose skills can be used in so many different settings. To me, realtime is an art and goes beyond just getting all the words. It’s anticipating where that comma should be placed for best readability; speaker identification; proper capitalization and hyphenation; making sure that specialized terms translate correctly; and correct grammar. I’m continuously competing against myself to produce a better and easier-to-read product.

JCR | What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
STOKER | My greatest accomplishment stems from my drive to take on work that makes me think: “I can’t do this.” Eventually the fear subsides, and I grow from each challenge. I remember my first remote CART job in 2009. Fight-or-flight kicked in, and my hands were shaking. I had been doing on-site CART for two years prior to that. I got through the job and transitioned to learning about multiple streaming and audio platforms. Soon I was doing multiple remote classes a day, then business and government meetings, TV and broadcast captioning, and branching into the type of all-day, multi-day highly technical conference work I do today. Each well-executed job becomes my new greatest accomplishment. I value and seek out opportunities to challenge myself and grow my skill set.