NCRA re-appointed as representative on FCC Committee

Photo by Greg Elin

Photo by Greg Elin

NCRA has been named to serve a two-year term as a representative member on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Disability Advisory Committee (DAC). The appointment was announced Jan. 5 and marks the second time NCRA has been named as a representative.

NCRA joins nearly two dozen other parties representing a number of companies, nonprofit organizations, and individual consumers serving on DAC’s Technology Transitions and Access to Video Programing subcommittees.

The FCC established the DAC in December 2014 to provide advice and recommendations to the Commission on a wide array of disability issues within its jurisdiction. The DAC is slated to remain active for two years, with meetings of the full committee and four subcommittees to begin next week.

According to the FCC, the DAC provides a means for stakeholders with interests in accessibility issues to exchange ideas, facilitate the participation of consumers with disabilities in proceedings before the Commission, and assist the Commission in educating the greater disability community and American with Disabilities Act-covered entities on disability-related matters. The Committee is expected to keep the Commission apprised of current and evolving communications issues for persons with disabilities. Other subcommittees include Communications, Emergency Communications, and Relay/Equipment Distribution.

Matthew R. Barusch, NCRA’s Manager of State Government Relations, who will represent the Association, said the Access to Video Programming Subcommittee will address televised emergency information, closed captioning, video description, and equipment designed to receive, play back, or record video programming.

“Serving on the second chartered DAC is consistent with NCRA’s appointment on the first charted DAC. This appointment allows NCRA to continue to have a voice in FCC recommendations related to captioning and how it will meet the needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community,” Barusch said.

The first meeting of DAC’s new term is tentatively set for March 21 at the FCC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Additional tentative meeting dates include mid-June and mid-October.

DOJ clarifies regulations regarding closed captioning and audio descriptions for movies

On Tues., Nov. 22, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, public accommodations that own, operate, or lease movie theaters are required to provide closed movie captioning and audio description whenever showing a digital movie that is produced, distributed, or otherwise made available with these features.

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Floyd County judges sue county for staff pay raises

The News & Tribune reported on Nov. 19 that Floyd County, Ind., judges have sued the county in hopes of securing 28 percent pay increases for the majority of county court reporters.

Read more.

The 2016 election: How the results will affect the profession

Photo by Vox Efx

Photo by Vox Efx

By Matthew Barusch

At long last, this election is over. The American people have cast their ballots, and perhaps the most unique and consequential presidential campaign in recent history has reached its conclusion. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been elected as the 45th President of the United States. President-elect Trump will now prepare to govern with a fully Republican Congress, and for the first time since 2001, the Republican Party will have control of all three branches of government.

The effects of a Trump administration on the court reporting profession are relatively uncertain, partially because uncertainty surrounds his upcoming presidency. Trump will be expected to fulfill numerous promises he made during his campaign, including his policies on immigration, the economy, and foreign affairs. Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will be able to target all of the Obama administration policies that the party has been fighting against for years, including the Affordable Care Act, executive orders on immigration, and energy restrictions on fossil fuels. The vacancy on the Supreme Court will also likely be filled within the first few months. Merrick Garland’s nomination is likely to be tossed aside after Trump’s inauguration in favor of a conservative judge off the list he circulated during his campaign.

With these issues as the primary focus going into Trump’s presidency, issue areas affecting the court reporting profession such as education will likely take a back seat. If and when education is taken up, it will potentially be viewed as an area for budget cuts, which may rule out any new appropriations for court reporting programs.

Trump has also spoken to his desire to make the country safer and improve the country’s infrastructure. A case could be made for the revival of the Local Courthouse Safety Act, particularly in a time where the country is focused on violent shootings and the public is uneasy. In past iterations, the proposed legislation would distribute existing surplus security equipment to local and state courthouses to enhance the security infrastructure of courthouses that lack them. Such legislation would speak to Trump’s campaign promises; however, it is likely that the focus of his administration and the 115th Congress will be on fulfilling his more high-profile pledges.

A broader look at the congressional elections shows that members of Congress who support the court reporting industry have been re-elected on both sides of the aisle in both chambers. In the Senate, Sen. Patty Murray has won re-election in Washington with 61 percent of the vote. Sen. Murray is likely to become Minority Conference Chair in the Senate and remain the ranking member on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which will give NCRA a powerful ally in the Senate minority. In the House, Reps. Hakeem Jeffries in New York, Rodney Davis and John Shimkus in Illinois, Suzan Delbene in Washington, Ron Kind in Wisconsin, and Dennis Ross in Florida all won re-election. As a result, NCRA retains a strong list of allies on important committees, such as the House Judiciary Committee, which are primarily responsible for addressing education issues of import to the profession. There are also some newcomers to Congress this cycle who are likely to support initiative affecting court reporting. One such person is Jimmy Panetta, who won election in California as Representative for the 20th Congressional District.

NCRA will continue to work for the court reporting profession with its allies in the 115th Congress and looks forward to a hopeful and prosperous future ahead.

Matthew Barusch is NCRA’s Manager of State Government Relations. He can be reached at mbarusch@ncra.org.

Arkansas allows RPR as equivalent for court reporting license

JCR publications share buttonThe Arkansas Supreme Court recently posted and approved a final rule change that accepts NCRA’s RPR certification in lieu of the state exam.

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Can’t understand your city councilor? Think this would help?

Officials from the Canadian city of Sault St. Marie plan to look into adding closed captioning to broadcasts of its city council meetings, per the request of two of the council’s members, according an article posted by SooToday.com on Oct. 10. The members want the change to provide access “for the hearing impaired of our community.”

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Hollywood studios beat lawsuit over non-captioning of song lyrics in movies and television

According to an article posted Sept. 29 by The Hollywood Reporter, Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount, Sony, and Buena Vista Home Entertainment defeated a lawsuit that alleged that the studios has violated various laws by refusing to provide more captioning or subtitling of song lyrics in films and television shows. The putative class action suit was launched on behalf of those with hearing disabilities. The judge in the case considered several aspects of the allegations, although he ultimately concluded:  “From the description of both parties, it seems clear to the Court that captions, and specifically the decision regarding what content to caption, is a component of the moviemaking process, as the Studios must decide what level of captioning would provide the best experience for consumers using the caption and subtitle features.”

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Riverboat becomes federal court in flooding case

The St. Joseph News-Press, St. Jospeh, Mo., reported on Sept 28 that The Spirit of Brownville picked up more than 60 people, including a federal judge and an official court reporter, for a trip down the Missouri River as part of a flooding lawsuit.

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Massachusetts highlights changes in courtroom recordkeeping

Nancy McCann of the Massachusetts Court Reporters Association is quoted in an article posted Sept. 28 by The Crime Report that addresses the issue of replacing live court reporters with digital recording equipment in the courtroom.

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New York state allows RPR as equivalent for court reporters license

The New York State Board of Regents has amended the Commissioner’s Regulations that pertains to the Certified Shorthand Reporting examination requirements. The Board of Regents has also approved NCRA’s Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) examination to meet New York’s examination requirement for licensure as a Certified Shorthand Reporter. Their forms and website have been updated to reflect this.