NCRA attends CTC, keeps profession relevant

Set in a moderately busy vendor hall, two women in professional garb speak with a few men who are visiting the booth. One of the women is seated at a steno machine. On the table are flyers and propped up iPads.

NCRA President Christine J. Willette (seated) and NCRA Secretary-Treasurer Debra A. Dibble speak with attendees at the 2017 Court Technology Conference.

NCRA was proud to host a booth in the expo hall at the Court Technology Conference (CTC) held Sept. 12-14, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The National Center for State Courts holds the biennial conference, which is the world’s premier event showcasing the developments in court technology. The event draws more than 1,500 court professionals from around the nation.

Volunteers at the NCRA booth at this year’s CTC event included NCRA President Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC; Secretary-Treasurer Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC; Director of Professional Development Programs Cynthia Bruce Andrews; and Government Relations Manager Matthew Barusch. Other volunteers included:

  • Rockie Dustin, RPR, a freelancer in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Phoebe Moorhead, RPR, CRR, a freelancer in North Ogden, Utah
  • Laura Robinson, RPR, an official in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Laurie Shingle, RPR, CMRS, a freelancer in Pleasant View, Utah
  • Pattie Walker, RPR, an official in Holladay, Utah

The NCRA representatives used the opportunity to demonstrate to attendees the professional advantage of using stenographic court reporters as well as display the latest technology in realtime reporting. They also had the opportunity to speak to judges, IT professionals, and other court professionals.

“We experienced great interactions with court IT attendees. The lack of certified stenographic reporters to cover courts was a common theme expressed by many visitors to our booth. They’re really feeling the shortage,” said Willette. “They all love realtime. Many of them who use realtime said they can’t live without it. One judge called her reporter right on the spot to make sure they knew about realtime to the cloud,” she added.

The CTC serves as the venue for unveiling the latest developments in court technology to the court-professionals community, giving NCRA a prime opportunity to promote the gold standard of court reporting.

“The potentially monumental contacts that can be made at CTC are innumerable and invaluable in view of the broad expanse of crucial decision-makers who attend,” said Dibble. “We met with judges, attorneys, IT personnel, court reporters, and vendors of litigation services and technologies to court systems — everyone is looking for ways to be more effective in their roles to more efficiently execute the judicial process,” she added.

Willette and Dibble both agree that having the opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of stenographic court reporters to those charged with implementing court-technology services helps to open doors and inspire ideas to incorporate stenographic skills into the products they offer. Attending the CTC also helps to keep NCRA members relevant as technologies evolve.

“It is imperative that NCRA be a part of that solution-finding process and be visible to every facet of this field. We spent our time listening and learning about the interests and needs of attendees, then sharing with them how we can provide solutions to their needs and how our services create efficiencies to their processes,” Dibble said.

The next Court Technology Conference will be in September 2019 in New Orleans, La. For more information, visit ctc2017.org.

Highlights from the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo: A student’s experience

Four young women pose in matching light blue shirts with steno written on the front

MacCormac students wear matching shirts at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo: (l-r) Ariel Kraut, Brianna Uhlman, Marissa Loring, and Hailey Treasure

By Ariel Kraut

I am very appreciative for the time I got to spend at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas. What a fun and vibrant location for court reporters to come together and connect as a community!

On our first day, we visited the Expo Hall and got to explore many innovations in reporting technology. Things that I never even thought of, like ergonomic machines, different types of travel bags, all kinds of software, and much more, were on display. We got some great swag and were able to connect with vendors from all types of companies related to the field. I loved the neon light-up writer!

It was amazing to see all of the different types of new technology associated with the Stenograph machines knowing that I will soon be purchasing my own when I finish school. I really enjoyed watching a demonstration involving the audio-recording capabilities of the Luminex writer. Not only can you direct it to go back to the last question you asked in a testimony dictation, but the audio-sync feature allows you to listen to the actual dictation in addition to seeing the question on your screen. If only I had that available during tests!

My favorite part of the Convention was the being able to speak with reporters from all different fields. It was exciting to have so many people come up to us, knowing that we were students, and introduce themselves. All of the pros were so warm and welcoming to us. People from all over the country were so happy to see us students and had nothing but the most encouraging things to say. I even spoke with the President of NCRA multiple times and felt great about it. It was inspiring to see that many of the people we spoke with actually won awards for the Speed and Realtime Contests and were honored during the luncheon.

An especially good time for networking was in the “Steno Speed Dating” part of the first day of the student track. We got to sit with very successful reporters, including speed contest winners, realtime writers, captioners, and even a court reporter who worked in the House of Representatives. It is inspiring to see the places that this career can take you if you apply yourself. I also appreciated hearing about these professionals’ school experiences and what the biggest struggles were for each of them. I got some practice tips and some great advice as to how I can clean up my notes and build my speed at the same time.

Another very beneficial session was “Business of Being a Court Reporter.” There, we got to see a mock deposition take place with a panel of professional reporters pausing to explain certain parts of the process. They would also tell us what they would do if something unusual would happen and frequent issues that may come up on the job.

I am very thankful that I was able to attend this Convention as I found it reinvigorating for me as a student. School can be stressful sometimes, but seeing all of these successful women and men in the field made me feel like I was on the right track and I have a great life to look forward to in this field.

Ariel Kraut is a student at MacCormac College in Chicago, Ill. She can be reached at akraut@maccormac.edu.

Read “Finding court reporters’ paradise” by MacCormac student Brianna Uhlman

Finding court reporters’ paradise

By Brianna Uhlman

The NCRA Convention & Expo is like the Shangri-la of court reporting. The things you learn, the relationships you build, and the experiences you take with you are irreplaceable. You leave motivated to finish school and determined to make the most out of your time in this profession.

Four young women pose in matching light blue shirts with steno written on the front

MacCormac students wear matching shirts at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo: (l-r) Ariel Kraut, Brianna Uhlman, Marissa Loring, and Hailey Treasure

The Expo Hall at the NCRA Convention is truly a magical place. Even as a student, the exhibitors are so willing and eager to talk to you and show you all that is new in the world of court reporting. In the Expo Hall, you can learn so much about the newest technology, whether it’s machines, updates in software, etc. You get to test out different machines from all different vendors. You have the opportunity to learn about several different companies that are involved in the court reporting world. You have the opportunity to talk face-to-face with some of the business owners and representatives who you will be working with for the rest of your career. And you can win so much free stuff!

Getting the chance to mingle with some of the top reporters around the country and the globe is such an invaluable experience. Talking with members of the Board, speed contest champions, and the like is extremely motivational. For me personally, I come from a small town with small dreams and not a lot of opportunity. When first enrolling in court reporting school and joining the court reporting community, I had no idea where this career could take me. But at events like the NCRA Convention, you get to know these amazing and successful people who may have come from a situation similar to yours. But because of this profession and all of the opportunity and their personal hard work and dedication, they have taken themselves so far. It makes you dream bigger and work harder for those dreams. It shows you that no matter your background or your current standing, there is no limit to where this profession can take you. If you work hard, stay motivated, and keep pushing yourself to get through school, you can have a very successful and fulfilling career.

Having the opportunity to talk to other students from all over the country is so encouraging. It really makes you realize that you are not alone in the struggles of court reporting school. There is a whole community of students who are having difficulty with speeds, getting stuck in similar areas, and experiencing the same discouragements you are experiencing. But being able to discuss these experiences and learn about other people’s techniques and tricks is so helpful. They are there to encourage you to keep going. Seeing the resilient spirit of other students is inspiring. Experiencing the genuine care and comradery from other students creates such an honest atmosphere of support and sincerity. It truly is a community of people that want to see you succeed in this profession, and that is just not something you see very often.

I am so thankful for the court reporting community. And I am so thankful for the NCRA Convention & Expo that creates the opportunity for this community to come together and create positive, long-lasting impacts on its members and their profession.

Brianna Uhlman is a student at MacCormac College in Chicago, Ill. She can be reached at brianna.uhlman@gmail.com.

Read “Highlights from the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo: A student’s experience” by MacCormac student Ariel Kraut

NCRF Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project captures Purple Heart recipients’ stories

Two women, one holding a plaque in the shape of a scroll, stand in front of a banner reading "America's Combat Wounded Veterans -- Purple Heart Recipients." The wording is wrapped around an image of the Purple Heart medal in front of a bald eagle whose wings turn into the American flag.

April Weiner and Nancy Hopp accepted a plaque on behalf of NCRF from the Military Order of the Purple Heart

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) hosted a third Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative on Aug. 14 at the 86th Military of Order of Purple Heart (MOPH) 2017 Convention held in Dallas, Texas. Volunteer court reporters and captioners from the Texas Court Reporters Association were joined by a number of volunteer interviewers including NCRF Chair Nancy Hopp, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRMS, from St. Louis, Mo., to help chronicle the service experiences of nine veterans from a number of different military branches and different wars, which will be transcribed for the U.S. Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP).

The event was also featured in two segments that aired on KDFW-DAL Fox 4 News.

“I’m proud of the work court reporters and captioners have done to preserve veterans’ stories,” said Hopp during a presentation to attendees at the MOPH event. “We owe it to you brave men and women to make sure your stories live on for the benefit of your families, historians, and the American people.”

In her remarks, Hopp shared that her own father was drafted in the infantry in his late 20s and served in Europe during World War II. He received the Purple Heart for injuries sustained during his active service.

“Over the course of his life, my dad would tell us isolated anecdotes from his wartime experiences. In 1998, when he was 83 years old and on his deathbed, I flew to Florida to visit him in the hospital. When I arrived, he took off his oxygen mask, and he proceeded to knit together all those little war stories he had shared over the years into one compelling and poignant narrative of his experience,” Hopp said.

Noting that her father’s story was an amazing tale of terror, courage, and, most of all, a strong sense of duty, Hopp added that she was struck at the time by how he would not let himself die until he had a chance to unburden himself of experiences he had had 50 years earlier.

Back view of a conference room with a seated audience -- mostly men and some wearing commemorative military service hats. A woman stands at the podium in the front of the room. On the projector is a black and white photographer of a smiling young man in uniform, probably circa the 1940s

Nancy Hopp shares a few words about her father (pictured) at the Military Order of the Purple Heart convention

“I so wish I could have preserved his story both for posterity and as evidence of the personal sacrifices he made,” said Hopp as she encouraged those in the audience to share their stories for the Library of Congress program.

NCRF’s work promoting VHP programs like the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes initiative is important because it helps veterans who have never spoken of their service share their stories, said Kimberly Xavier, RDR, CRR, CRC, CMRS, CRI, an official court reporter from Arlington, Texas, and a U.S. Air Force veteran, who volunteered at the MOPH event.

“As court reporters, we sometimes are too focused on the financial side of what we do, but (volunteering) is giving back. Anyone thinking of participating in one of these events should just jump right in and do it. It’s well worth it,” added Xavier.

For volunteer interviewer Mark Kiernan, from The Colony, Texas, participating in the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes event was extremely gratifying especially since his own son was wounded during service in Afghanistan. He attended the event with his wife, Therese Casterline Kiernan, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter who volunteered to capture the stories of the veterans he interviewed.

“I would absolutely do this again. I think it is important that people learn and understand how much those who seserve — and their families, too — sacrifice. When my son was injured, the first person I saw in the hospital said to me that everyone now needs to learn a new normal. Hearing a veteran’s story could be the learning experience of a lifetime,” added Kiernan.

Other court reporters, captioners, and interviewers from Texas who volunteered their time to support the NCRF event included:

  • Kacie Adcock, RPR, CRR, CRC, a broadcast and CART captioner from Arlington, and her husband, Ryan
  • Mellony Ariail, RMR, CRR, CRC, an official court reporter from Corinth
  • Jennifer Collins, a captioner from Fort Worth
  • Terra Gentry, RPR, CRR, CRC, a freelance reporter from Rockwall
  • Lisa Hundt, RPR, a freelance court reporter and firm owner from Dallas
  • Brynna Kelley, RPR, CRR, a broadcast captioner from Dallas
  • Brian Roberts (interviewer)
  • Vicki Smith, RPR, a freelance court reporter from Lewisville
  • Vonda Treat (interviewer)
  • Kathleen Ullrich, RPR, CRR, a CART captioner from Seguin
Four people sit around a table -- two are in coversation while the other two write the conversation on a steno machine and provide captioning

(l->r) Kimberly Xavier records an oral history while Nancy Hopp asks veteran Benny Duett questions and Jennifer Collins provides CART.

The veterans interviewed included:

  • Richard Chenone, New Berlin, Wis., who served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and earned the Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals for his service.
  • Benny Duett, Meridian, Miss., who served as a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam and earned the Purple Heart, the Vietnam Campaign, and the Vietnam Service medals for his service.
  • James Gordon, Stone Mountain, Ga., who served as an E6 in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and earned the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the National Defense, the Vietnam Service, and the Vietnam Campaign medals for his service.
  • Bill Grumlett, San Antonio, Texas, who served as a captain in the U.S. Army in Korea and Vietnam and earned the Purple Heart, the Vietnam Service, and the Korea Service medals for his service.
  • Robert Hunt, Cordova, Tenn., an E5 (sergeant) in the U.S. Army who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and earned two Purple Heart medals for his service. Hunt was accompanied by his golden retriever service dog, Baron, during his interview.
  • Kevin Hynes, New Bern, N.C., a captain in the U.S. Air Force who served in Vietnam and earned a Purple Heart, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Airman’s Medal, two Bronze Stars, and an Air Medal for his service.
  • Robert Lance, location not given, who served as a sergeant major E9 in the U.S. Marine Corps in Korea and Vietnam and earned a Purple Heart medal for his service.
  • Leonard Lang, Blanchard, Okla., an E5 in the U.S. Army who served in Korea and Vietnam and earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star medal for his service.
  • Bobby McNeill, Charlotte, N.C., who served as a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam and earned the Purple Heart, National Defense Service, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign with Device, and Meritorious Mast medals for his service.

NCRF’s Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative specifically seeks to interview veterans with hearing loss with the help of CART captioning. Hearing loss is among the most common service-related injuries due to constant exposure to loud noises in training and in combat, and it tends to worsen over time. In addition to preserving these veterans’ stories for the VHP, the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project introduces CART captioning, which is a service that may benefit these veterans in their daily lives.

NCRF launched the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project at the Hearing Loss Association of America’s headquarters in Bethesda, Md., in February, where five veterans with varying degrees of hearing loss chronicled their service experiences. In June, seven veterans were interviewed during the 2017 Hearing Loss Association of America’s Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. NCRF is seeking volunteers to participate at a fourth event in October during the Association of Late-Deafened Adults conference being held in Orlando, Fla.

NCRA members have been listening and taking down veterans’ stories since NCRF partnered with the Library of Congress in 2003 to have court reporters transcribe veterans’ stories from their collection of now more than 100,000. In 2007, members were asked to preserve the stories of veterans who hadn’t yet recorded their histories through personal interviews and VHP Days. To date, NCRF has submitted more than 4,100 transcripts to the Library of Congress.

NCRF’s Hard-of-Hearing Heroes initiative is supported by an Innovation Grant from the American Society of Association Executives Foundation. For more information, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF, or contact April Weiner, Foundation Manager, at aweiner@ncra.org.

NCRA members sweep top spots at 2017 world speed competition

Three smiling people stand on a podium of various heights (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) holding certificates. In the background are a collection of international flags.

Sheri Smargon, Jen Schuck, and John Wissenbach stand on the podium at Intersteno. They claimed the top three spots in the Speech Capturing event, seniors division. Photo by Charlie Fiss.

NCRA members dominated the 2017 Intersteno World Speed Competition held during the organization’s 51st Congress, which took place July 22-28 in Berlin, Germany, including a sweep of the top three spots.

Jen Schuck, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, Scottsdale, Ariz., took gold while Sheri Smargon, RDR, CRR, CRC, Riverview, Fla., and Tori Pittman, FAPR, RDR, CRI, Wake Forest, N.C., earned the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

In the Speech Capturing event, seniors division, the top six spots were also claimed by NCRA members Schuck; Smargon; John Wissenbach, RDR, CRR, CRC, San Francisco, Calif.; Jennifer Costales, RMR, CRR, The Hague, Netherlands; Anissa Nierenberger, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI, Boise, Idaho; and Kelly Linkowski, RPR, CRR, CRC, CPE, Rittman, Ohio.

Pittman grabbed first place in the Speech Captioning Voice event, seniors division, while Schuck took home a bronze in the Audio Transcription event, seniors division.

For several of this year’s competitors, the trip to compete at the Intersteno Congress was not their first time. In 2015, Wissenbach earned top honors in the Intersteno Realtime Speech Capturing event, seniors division, held in Budapest, Hungary. Shuck has previously placed third in the world in the Intersteno Realtime Speech Capturing event, seniors division, held in Paris in 2011, and second in the same event held in 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Pittman also competed in the 2015 world competition, ranking 30th in the Realtime Speech Capturing event, seniors division.

The Intersteno competitions follow methods: to take down a text read at an increasing speed or to enter texts and data processed with a computer. In both cases, speed and accuracy determine success.

In the Speech Capturing event, competitors take and transcribe a five-minute dictation at progressive speed. Competitors choose the text to transcribe among three consecutive five-minute legs of dictations given at speeds increased each minute. The initial and final speeds of each dictation are related to the language of the competitors, according to a comparison table set up by the Intersteno Council. At least the first three minutes of dictation must be transcribed successfully. Transcription is handed out on-site on USB sticks or with hand transcription for competitors using traditional shorthand.

In the Audio Transcription event, competitors transcribe a digitally recorded dictation in their mother tongue for 10 minutes. The dictation lasts 15 minutes at a constant and, for the language in question, normal speech speed.

The seniors division is made of all competitors ages 21 and over.

Intersteno, the International Federation for Information and Communication Processing, is a worldwide community with members that represent all manners of information technology, including court reporters and captioners as well as secretaries, teachers, parliamentary reporters, and others who use any technology that produces fast writing. The organization holds its Congress every two years and offers attendees a schedule full of educational sessions, presentations, and competitions in realtime, speed, audio translation, typing, and more. Other activities often include galas and tours of the host city or local area. The event offers attendees a unique view of how the written word captured throughout the world.

For more information about Intersteno, visit Intersteno.org.

The CLVS experience at the NCRA Convention & Expo

Back view of a packed classroom. In the front left, a man sits on a chair in front of a PowerPoint presentation; the slide is on the topic "computer as recorder."

Jason Levin leads a discussion on equipment during the CLVS Seminar at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo

By Jason Levin

Each year at the NCRA Convention & Expo, videographers from across the country (and even from around the globe) meet for a three-day intensive course. Instructors and attendees go over everything necessary for starting a career as a deposition videographer. While the primary purpose of the CLVS Seminar is to instruct both novice and experienced videographers on how to become legal videographers, perhaps even more crucial is impressing upon them the importance of a professional and respectful relationship between reporter and videographer. Any reporter who has had a bad experience working with an uncertified videographer can appreciate the value of the CLVS certification process.

The curriculum for the CLVS Seminar is developed and taught by the CLVS Council, which is a team of volunteers who already have earned their CLVS certification. Attendees at the Las Vegas Convention had the privilege of being taught by a legend of legal video, Brian Clune, CLVS, who after twenty years of service to NCRA, stepped down from his post on the CLVS Council. Brian’s wealth of knowledge and inimitable charm will be greatly missed!

Attendance at this year’s Seminar was higher than anticipated. It was standing room–only until we brought in extra chairs to accommodate the high demand. An added benefit to having the CLVS Seminar at the Convention is the networking opportunities available to both videographers and reporting firms alike. I hear from firm owners all the time that they have great difficulty finding qualified videographers to cover their jobs. The CLVS certification is the gold standard for identifying competent and vetted legal videographers and sets them apart from the rest of the field.

In addition to teaching the legal video curriculum at the Convention, the CLVS Council also administers the Production Exam. This is a thirty-minute timed examination in which the candidates video a mock deposition under real-life circumstances. We grade them on how they conduct themselves in the deposition as well as the video record they produce. I am pleased to report that the results of the CLVS practical exam at this Convention had the highest passing rate in many years, which I believe is a testament to the quality of teaching at the Seminar.

The next opportunity to take the practical exam will be Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at NCRA headquarters in Reston, Va. Based on the attendance in Las Vegas, NCRA expects the time slots for the Production Exam to fill up quickly, so reserve your spot now! Visit NCRA.org/CLVS for more information about this program or to register.

 

Jason Levin, CLVS, of Washington, D.C., is chair of NCRA’s CLVS Council. He can be reached at jason@virginiamediagroup.com

Highlights and takeaways from the sessions at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo

Attendees at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo had the opportunity to attend an array of sessions and educational workshops designed to help them increase their professional experience and hone their skills. The summaries below highlight a few of these sessions.

Fast, faster, fastest

View from the back of a meeting room with rows of people facing a panel and a projector

Kelly Shainline, Jason Meadors, and Keith Lemons present “Fast, faster, fastest” to a full house

One of the first sessions to kick off the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo, “Fast, faster, fastest” with Kelly Shainline, RPR, CRR; Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC; and Keith Lemons, FAPR, RPR, CRR, was packed with standing room only. The nuts-and-bolts realtime session went through step by step how to set up for good realtime. “My first page, I just consider it a sacrificial goat,” Meadors said to laughter, but the presenters emphasized the importance of good preparation as the key to strong realtime. For example, for legal work, the presenters said to get the appearance page ahead of time and use that to do some research. “Let’s say there’s a doctor,” said Lemons. “Look up online what kind of medicine they do — such as obstetrics and gynecology — and use that to build specific words in a dictionary.”

“I won’t be mean,” Meadors said, “but I will be firm to get what I need,” especially for CART or captioning work.

The presenters all said that they do prep the night before — although the length of time varied a bit based on how important the trial was, how many people would be seeing the realtime, and if there would be a rough draft, for example – but also emphasized the importance of arriving early to the job. Shainline said that while she often prepares brief forms the night before, after she sets up at the job, she does some practice with those briefs to help get them into muscle memory.

Gadgets and gizmos

Merilee Johnson, RDR, CRR, CRC, and Micheal Johnson, RDR, CRR, lead a session filled with dozens of specific gadgets, gizmos, and app recommendations to make life easier both on and off the job. For example, for the office, Merilee and Micheal shared:

  • a few types of charging stations, including the Satechi USB Charging Station, which charges up to six devices at a time, and the EZO power desktop, which Merilee says she’s brought on jobs as a value add to help attorneys plug in their devices;
  • second monitors, including the Duet Display app, which turns an iPad into a second screen (currently only for Apple products), and the Mimo, which is a small second monitor – both Micheal and Merilee said they’ve found it helpful to use a small second monitor to free up real estate on their laptop and move over, for example, BriefIt on a second screen; and
  • cable management gadgets, including the Baltic Sleeve, which is a Velcro sleeve that wraps around a bunch of cables, and the Safcord, which is also a Velcro solution that performs the same function as gaffer’s tape, except it’s reusable.

How to compete with some of the best

In a session that was part of the Student Learning Zone at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo, Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC; Tami Frazier, RMR, CRR; and Ron Cook, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, gave concrete tips to students on improving their writing while getting through school. The three presenters came from a variety of perspectives: a captioner, an official, and a freelancer.

Chase had strong realtime skills coming out of school, but he didn’t have his state CSR. Because of this, he went into captioning. Tami started as an official out of school because a job opened up at the right time. She said that while court work can be a little faster than depo work — and trials are more controlled — new professionals shouldn’t avoid going right into court after school. And Ron cited the freedom and money potential as perks to freelancing, but he admitted that one downside is the lack of benefits. (He is also a partner in a firm.)

Tami taught both of her sons (Chase and brother Clay Frazier) to write steno, and she did so paperless. She also emphasized perfection. When Chase was at 200 wpm, she saw that while he had the speed, he was writing sloppy and with no punctuation. She had him go back to 160 and work back up while also working on writing perfectly. Chase attributed this experience to his strength in realtime.

A woman speaks into a microphone. She is sitting amongst rows of people at a conference session.

An attendee shares her thoughts during a session at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo

“A lot of people don’t emphasize the mental part of practicing,” said Ron. “If you don’t think you’re going to get it, you won’t get it.” He provided a couple metaphors for practicing, including “slow things down” — meaning to slow things down mentally, stay relaxed, and go with the flow.

Tami recommended practicing about 10 percent faster than her goal speed (which was a technique that she used to get through school). “You always want to be pushing yourself,” she said. Pick tough dictation, she suggested — “and I’m a real believer in lit — it makes you write; there’s nothing easy about lit,” she said. She also suggested practicing a five-minute take at least ten or fifteen words per minute faster than the goal speed. But since she also emphasized aiming for perfection, repeating a take until writing it perfectly will clean up a reporter’s writing and also gives the reporter an opportunity to work in briefs and phrases. “The better writer you are, the easier the job,” she said.

Business of being a court reporter

Charisse Kitt, RMR, CRI; Jessica Waack, RDR, CRR; Mike Hensley, RPR; and Katherine Schilling, RPR, presented a mock deposition as part of the Student Learning Zone at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo. With Schilling playing the part of newbie reporter, the mock deposition went through a variety of typical situations that a new reporter may not have encountered before or covered in school. At each “freeze frame,” the panelists discussed how they would handle each situation. A few of the situations were:

Introducing yourself at the beginning of the deposition: Kitt said she makes a point of greeting all of the lawyers in the room with a firm handshake. Waack expanded on this by saying that she makes sure her ears are over her shoulders over her hips, so she’s standing with confidence and not hunched over.

Swearing in the witness: Waack suggested having a physical piece of paper with the oath to refer to. She also said to make sure to include “swear or affirm” in the wording, since some witnesses don’t want to swear, and to avoid the phrase “so help you God.” Hensley pointed out that reporters should always check with their state association or firm first to see if there’s a preset oath that the reporter should be using.

Using briefs for names, words, and phrases: For briefs, Hensley pointed out that they don’t have to make sense on paper as long as they make sense to you to write. Kitt said she likes to get to a job at least 30 minutes early so she can use the time to jot down some briefs. And Waack suggested using LinkedIn to find the proper spellings of witnesses, etc., although she added that this will likely lead to some odd friend requests. She also said that after she’s developed a brief for an acronym, if the speaker suddenly uses the full term, she simply writes the brief twice.

The witness is talking too fast: Kitt said, “Don’t ever depend on your audio,” stressing that it’s the reporter’s responsibility as the record-keeper to keep in control and stop any fast talkers to tell them to slow down. Waack says she likes to reset the speaker to the point where she lost the record by saying, “You were talking about [subject].” And Hensley favors using a visual hand signal – physically lifting his hands up off the machine to show the room that something is up with the reporter.

Hensley also emphasized throughout the session the importance of knowing your software.

Beyond English

Stanley Sakai, CRC, led a session that focused on captioning in other languages, especially Spanish. The discussion was guided partially by Sakai’s prepared presentation and partly by the audience’s questions.

Sakai has a working knowledge of eight different languages with varying levels of fluency, including Dutch, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. Prompted by a question from the audience, he explained that one of the methods he uses to keep up with such a wide variety of languages is to have different devices set to different languages (for example, his tablet set in one language and his mobile phone in another). He also takes the opportunity to look up words he encounters on the fly and to read articles, etc., in a language other than English so he learns content and vocabulary at the same time.

The session description specifically highlighted Spanish, and the growing need for Spanish captioning came up in the discussion, both domestically and abroad. Sakai talked a little bit about the differences between baseline speeds in English and Spanish and how Spanish is at a slightly slower speed. He also discussed his methods for doing CART work in German and how steno systems work in Korean and in Japanese. Sakai had to adjust his steno theory in order to provide CART, which was for a German language class, and he even had to be prepared to jump between German and English. Similarly, in the discussion, he pointed out that the Korean and Japanese languages toggle between different writing systems based on the specific words, and reporters and captioners in those countries need to have keyboards that are set up to quickly switch between the writing systems at the speed of spoken language.

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Register for the September CLVS Production Exam

VideographyThe next testing dates to take the CLVS Production Exam will be Sept. 29-30 at NCRA headquarters in Reston, Va. Registration is open Aug. 25-Sept. 22. Space is limited, so candidates are encouraged to sign up early. The registration form is available here.

The Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS) program sets and enforces standards for competency in the capture, use, and retention of legal video and promotes awareness of these standards within the legal marketplace. “The CLVS certification is the gold standard for identifying competent and vetted legal videographers and sets them apart from the rest of the field,” said Jason Levin, CLVS, Chair of the CLVS Council. The CLVS Council leads the CLVS Seminar and administers the Production Exam.

“I am starting down a new career path and have chosen the CLVS program to add to my video skills. I found the CLVS workshop to be extremely beneficial and well organized,” said Benjamin Hamblen, a multimedia producer in New York who attended the CLVS Seminar at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev. “I now know that the CLVS certification will help me down my new career path and will let others know I can produce to the CLVS standard.”

During the Production Exam, candidates will run the show at a staged deposition and be graded on their ability to follow video deposition guidelines and produce a usable, high-quality video of the deposition. Candidates must have taken the CLVS Seminar first; the Production Exam and the Written Knowledge Test may be taken in any order. Learn more about the CLVS program at NCRA.org/CLVS.

Wyrick wows the crowd during the Premier Session keynote

Back view of a dark event room full of people. At the front is a man standing in the front on a stage; he's also projected on a screen.Steve Wyrick, known as the Daredevil Magician, brought some extra-special magic to the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo during his keynote address at the Premier Session. He performed several illusions, including bringing Ms. Pac-Man to life from an old video game console, linking together three rings provided by members of the audience, and turning a $100 bill into a $1 bill – and back again, to the relief of the attendee who had supplied the original $100.

Unfortunately, Planet Hollywood (along with Paris and Bally’s) lost power for a couple hours during Wyrick’s presentation, but when the lights came back on, attendees had the opportunity to see the rest of the show.

The grand finale of Wyrick’s performance was essentially a “steno mad libs.” Wyrick told a fictional story of a couple court reporters who had snuck out to a casino on the Strip, had a good time, and came back late the next day. Members of the audience predicted the names of the reporters, the casino, their preferred drink, and the time the reporters returned. In the midst of this, Wyrick talked about an alleged Aunt Mable who had been a reporter and said he’d become interested in steno and went on YouTube to teach himself how to write in steno. He drew the audience’s attention to a box that had been hanging from the ceiling. When the story was complete, he brought the box down and, to the audience’s delight, he pulled out a ream of steno paper with the audience’s predictions to the story written in steno.

AMBI5559Throughout his presentation, Wyrick highlighted some of the ways that court reporters and magicians are similar. He pointed out that both reporters and magicians work with their hands. They are sworn to secrecy — reporters know that they must handle confidential information carefully. Everything has to be perfect with fine attention to detail. And both reporters and magicians find success with thorough preparation, including developing a backup plan and working through logistics.

Other highlights of the Premier Session included the recognition of international attendees from eight different countries, certification holders, and past presidents. Joanne Lee, RPR, a Florida reporter who works with Esquire Deposition Solutions (the Premier Session sponsor), provided an update on the work that the company has been doing to help students successfully complete online programs and to get millennials more involved in the profession. NCRA’s 2017-2018 Board of Directors was installed, including NCRA Immediate Past President Tiva Wood, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, being magically transformed into NCRA President Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC. Ed Johnson, FAPR, RPR, CRR, introduced his fellow Wisconsinite with a top ten list of “things you may not know about Chris Willette,” including a quip that in a Speed Contest, if the topic was cheese, Willette could beat Mark Kislingbury, FAPR, RDR, CRR. Willette gave her first address to the membership, which focused on the importance of hard work, service, and perseverance. And Nancy Varallo, FAPR, RDR, CRR, was recognized as the 2017 Distinguished Service Award recipient. As she accepted the award, Varallo thanked all of her mentors who have helped her get to this point.

Lindsay Stoker, RPR, CRC, from Fullerton, Calif., provided the on-site CART captioning for the event.

Read all the news from the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo.

New NCRF Trustees inducted

The National Court Reporters Foundation’s newly elected Trustees began their three-year terms on Aug. 12 after being inducted into service at the Foundation’s annual Board of Trustees meeting taking place in conjunction with the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev.

The following individuals were elected to serve on the 2017-2018 NCRF Board of Trustees: Danielle Griffin, RPR, Phoenix, Ariz.; Karen G. Teig, RPR, CRR, CMRS, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Sandy VanderPol, FAPR, RMR, CRR, Lotus, Calif.

Danielle Griffin represents the future of the profession and can aid NCRF in its continued focus on helping students finish court reporting school and new reporters acquire the opportunities to thrive in the profession. She grew up in the court reporting field, working in her mother’s firm in Phoenix from the time she was in middle school, an experience that gives her more in-depth understanding of the business and profession than the average new reporter. As a new reporter with diverse experience and contacts, Griffin commits fully to everything she does. Griffin comes from a culture of volunteerism and strong fundraising experience and understands the value of networking and using those contacts to help make whatever she’s tasked with successful.

Karen Teig has extensive experience volunteering and serving on boards in both her personal or professional life, and she has had specific training on how to advocate for a philanthropic project. This has given her a thorough understanding of what it takes to be both a worker and a leader. She has served on numerous state and national committees; is a past state and national board member; and is past president of her state association. Teig has a true spirit of giving back and has been a long-time supporter of NCRF, whether promoting NCRF during state rep visits, transcribing histories for the VHP program, helping raise funds through her service on the Angels Drive Committee, or donating to NCRF through the Angels program.

Sandy VanderPol is a committed volunteer who has contributed extensively to the profession by writing articles, giving presentations, and serving on many court reporting association committees and boards. She has strong leadership experience, having been president of both her local and state court reporting associations. VanderPol’s accomplishments are well known as the recipient of NCRA’s Distinguished Service Award, and she is highly respected within the NCRA membership for her work ethic, ability to think outside the box, and intimate knowledge of and passion for the profession.

The new Trustees will be joining NCRF Chair Nancy Hopp, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRMS, St. Louis, Mo.; Secretary Debra Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, Woodland, Utah; Debra K. Cheyne, M.A., CSR, Sherwood, Ore.; Jane Fitzgerald, RMR, Pleasant Hill, Iowa; Tami Keenan, FAPR, RPR, CPE, Battle Creek, Mich.; Cregg Seymour, Baltimore, Md.; and Nancy Varallo, FAPR, RDR, CRR, Worcester, Mass.

Read all the news from the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo.