Veterans and family members share stories at Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project event

Left to right: Marylyn Howe is interviewed by Carol Menton while Liz Speer and Sheri Smargon write.

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) hosted a fourth Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative on Oct. 13 at the Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA) annual conference held in Orlando, Fla. The interviews will be transcribed and submitted to the Library of Congress for its Veterans History Project (VHP).

Volunteer court reporters, captioners, and interviewers captured seven new interviews of U.S. war veterans, including the story of Maj. Gen. Charles W. Sweeney, the only American Air Force pilot to fly on both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic missions during World War II. Sweeney’s story was shared by his daughter, Marylyn Howe, of Savannah, Ga.

Howe shared how her father’s career as a pilot evolved in the U.S. Air Force, that he had earned a Silver Star for his service, and that he also wrote a book called War’s End about his experience on the last atomic mission. Now out of print, Howe said the book will be updated with photos and other materials and reprinted in 2018. She also noted that her late father was instrumental in founding the Massachusetts State Air Guard and was actively involved in helping to establish such volunteer groups throughout all states.

Left to right: Cheri Frady shows a picture of her husband while Laura Landerman writes. Marylyn Howe interviewed Frady, and Georgia Rodriguez also wrote.

“It is very meaningful that veterans with hearing loss are being recognized and able to share their stories,” said Howe, an audiologist who has worked with veterans suffering hearing loss. “Many people don’t realize the hearing problems related to service and what a significant impact it can have on lives.” Howe also serves as co-chair of ALDA’s Publicity Committee.

Howe provided a copy of her father’s book that will be included with the final transcript in the Library of Congress.

Howe’s husband, Brian, a retired U.S. Marine Corps captain and pilot who suffers hearing loss from long-term exposure to jet engines, shared his story about his service in Vietnam. He also volunteered to interview U.S. Army veteran Ron Walker, SP4, from Merry Hill, N.C. During his interview, Walker shared that he earned the Purple Heart Award and two Bronze Stars for his service in Vietnam.

Cheri Frady, St. Petersburg, Fla., the widow of Teairlton Frady, who served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, shared letters he wrote home as well as a number of entries from his journals. These materials will be submitted to the Library of Congress with the final transcript. Frady also shared that her late husband was a Native American Onondaga and that he suffered health-related issues caused in part by his exposure to the powerful herbicide and defoliant Agent Orange used during the war.

Other veterans interviewed included:

  • Paul Morris, Clearwater, Fla., U.S. Army SP4, who served between the Korean and Vietnam wars
  • Harvey Rothman, Kissimmee, Fla., U.S. Army, SP4, who served in Vietnam
  • Gary Talley, Petersburg, Va., U.S. Navy, PN3, who served on the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy (CV-67)

Left to right: Brian Howe interviews while Michelle Pulido Stubben writes Ron Walker’s story, seated next to Irene Walker.

“It is an honor for me to do this. My son is a U.S. Marine, and I am proud of all of our servicemen,” said Nancy Rivera, RPR, a freelancer from Valrico, Fla., who volunteered to take down a veteran’s story at the event. “I was touched by the first time I did this. It hits home for me. I like to hear their stories and the emotion. It means a lot to them, and it means a lot to me.” Rivera noted that this was the first time she had participated in a live VHP event. The first time she volunteered for a VHP event was online.

“This was the first time I participated in one of these events, and I had no idea what to expect,” said Laura Landerman, RMR, CRR, a freelancer from Altamonte Springs, Fla. “Most reporters don’t provide realtime or captioning, and since I can do both, I volunteered. I would do it again. I liked that I could provide captions to aid the interviewer,” she added.

Nancy Rivera writes while Liz Speer interviews Harvey Rothman

Liz Speer, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer from Apopka, Fla., who volunteered to transcribe as well as interview, said participating in the event was especially meaningful to her because her own father had served in the U.S. military.

“The timing was just right. I lost my dad two months ago. He served in two wars, and he would have loved to have been interviewed. That’s the primary reason I volunteered. It’s also exciting to read those stories already down and know they are at the Library of Congress,” she added.

Other volunteer reporters and captioners included:

  • Michelle Pulido Stubben, Orlando, Fla.
  • Georgia Rodriguez, RPR, freelancer, Jacksonville, Fla.;
  • Sheri Smargon, RDR, CRR, CRC, broadcast captioner, Riverview, Fla.

Other volunteer interviewers included:

  • Carol Menton, case manager for Metro North/Northeast Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, in Boston, Mass., and an ALDA member
  • Larry Littleton, Oahu, Hawaii, a member of the ALDA Publicity Committee

NCRA and NCRF were also present on the ALDA expo floor, where NCRA members volunteered by providing captioning and CART demonstrations and answering questions from attendees about their services. Volunteers at the booth included:

  • Jamie Chancellor, CRC, broadcast captioner, Orlando, Fla.
  • Amie First, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE, CART captioner, Orlando, Fla.
  • Maria Rodriguez, RPR, freelancer, Tampa, Fla.

Jamie Chancellor demonstrates captioning at the NCRA booth at the ALDA expo

Other NCRA members attending the ALDA conference included Pat Graves, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner and agency owner from Monument, Colo., who chairs ALDA’s CART committee; and committee members Tess Crowder, RPR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner and agency owner from Tampa, Fla.; Anthony Trujillo, RMR, CRR, a freelance captioner from Kissimmee, Fla.; and Rita Meyer, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner from Orlando, Fla.

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.

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.

Get comfy for professional development: Exciting upcoming NCRA webinars

Front view of a person sitting barefoot on a couch with their laptop on their knees, blocking their faceCourt reporters and captioners understand the value of continuing education and always improving one’s skills, but it can be challenging to attend in-person events. With NCRA webinars, you can learn more about your profession from the comfort of your own home or office (not to mention that you can attend them in your slippers – no one will know!).

NCRA has a wide variety of topics coming up in the next month. The JCR Weekly reached out to the presenters to help whet your appetite.

On Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. ET, Tori Pittman, FAPR, RDR, CRI, will present “Intersteno: Berlin and Beyond.” Pittman is a freelance reporter from North Carolina who has a passion for Intersteno. Intersteno is “a worldwide community uniting all those using a full range of speed writing methods to quickly produce high quality texts” (including steno lovers, keyboarding champions, and verbatim writers), and they host an international Congress every two years. In this 90-minute webinar, Pittman will talk about the networking and competition opportunities at Intersteno. She describes it as “international travel that is also a business expense” and explains that Intersteno attendees “learn about reporting in other countries while exploring fantastic locations.” The 2017 Intersteno Congress was held in Berlin, Germany (NCRA members performed very well in the competitions), and the next event is in 2019 in Sardinia, Italy.

On Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. ET, Lisa Jo Hubacher, RPR, CRI, will present “Thinking about Student Training.” Hubacher is an instructor at Madison Area Technical College (which is also her alma mater) in Madison, Wis. Madison Area Technical College received one of the final Training for Realtime Writers grants in 2014 due to its curriculum redesign. In this webinar, Hubacher will discuss this curriculum model, including the redesign’s impact on the program, what’s working, and what needs tweaking. This is a must-attend webinar for anyone involved in training reporting students!

On Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. ET, Santo J. Aurelio, FAPR, RDR, will present “Legal Terms, Part 1.” Aurelio has presented several language-related webinars recently, including “What Reporters Must Know about Punctuation” and “English Grammar Gremlins: Ways to Conquer Them” (now both available as e-seminars). Aurelio will present on more than a hundred and fifty terms, but he admits, “I really get a special kick out of four of them: alibi (in another place), durance vile (imprisonment), eleemosynary (charitable), and Esq.” He adds, “If I must pick one, then I guess it would be Esq., which is merely a title of courtesy, but attorneys think that it means ‘one who is an attorney.’” Aurelio will provide “economical but cogent explanations” for the words that he hopes each attendee will easily remember.

Finally, on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. ET, Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, CRC, will present “Promoting the Profession.” Uviedo is an official in San Antonio, Texas, and she serves as co-chairperson for the Texas Court Reporters Association Student Recruitment Task Force. Her efforts in recruiting and mentoring court reporting students have won her the NCSA challenge not just once, but twice in a row; in 2015, she organized participation in 13 career fairs in 15 days in San Antonio. “It is so easy and rewarding volunteering for a recruitment event,” says Uviedo. “You have the potential to reach hundreds, even if you only talk to 50.” Uviedo has also found the value in promoting the profession over social media, and she hints that “one cool thing I’ll talk about is having attendees take selfies of themselves in front of their court reporting machines and having them spread posts about court reporting.”

Members who attend the webinars will be able to ask questions directly to the presenter and get them answered right away. But if you are not able to attend the live webinar, they will be available as on-demand e-seminars after the fact. Keep an eye on NCRA’s e-seminar library for these and other topics to help grow as a professional.

2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference heads to Florida

Registration is now open for the 2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference being held Jan. 28-30 at the Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach, Fla. Participants in the 2018 event can expect to connect, learn, and get energized as they attend insightful educational sessions and valuable networking events alongside other industry leaders.

Members are urged to register for the conference soon to take advantage of a discount rate being offered through Dec. 15. Rates for the conference registration will increase by $100 beginning Dec. 16. Special hotel rates for the event will also expire on Jan. 5, 2018.

Among the guest speakers on the bill this year is Steve Scott, SEO strategist, internet marketing educator, and owner of the Tampa SEO Training Academy. Scott will lead a session dedicated to business marketing on the web. He will touch on the secrets to search engine optimization (SEO) success, tactics and techniques for online marketing, and social media marketing, among other topics.

Since August 2006, Scott has worked with individuals and corporate clients to use internet marketing strategies like SEO, local search, social media, pay-per-click, and more. His clients have included IBM, American Express, Reader’s Digest, and Revlon.

Steve Scott will present on search engine optimization strategies

“During my career I’ve developed websites and search engine optimization programs for clients, both large and small. Helping business owners worldwide create a powerful online presence for their brands is my life’s work,” he said. “As an SEO industry veteran with a history in computer training dating back to 1990, I’ve trained and consulted with Fortune 1000 companies and have logged nearly 4,000+ hours in a hands-on training environment.”

According to Cregg Seymour, Chair of NCRA’s Education Content Committee for the NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference, attending the event will help firm owners generate new business.

“Through the premier networking at Firm Owners in 2017, we have created new relationships and strengthened existing ones. We continue to enjoy new or increased business that has benefited both our network partner firms and us,” added Seymour, who also serves as president of CRC Salomon, a court reporting firm in Baltimore, Md.

For more information and to register for the host hotel and conference, visit NCRA.org/FirmOwners.

NCRA 2017 – Highlights from TCG’s trip to Las Vegas for the NCRA Convention

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyKendall O’Geil, the Captioning Coordinator for The Captioning Group wrote a Sept. 7 post on the company blog about her experience at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev. O’Geil, who is an associate member of NCRA in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, highlighted the opportunities to meet captioners she works with in person as well as seeing new and emerging technologies and equipment in the Expo Hall. “Even if you are not a captioner, court reporter, or realtime writer in any sense, there is a lot to be learned from attending an NCRA convention,” she said.

Read more.

Meeting the demand: The CRC experience

Attendees at the CRC Workshop at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas

By Carol Studenmund

At the NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, the Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) Certification Committee hosted the third annual CRC Workshop. For one-and-a-half days, six members of the CRC Committee taught 68 registrants both beginning and advanced lessons regarding broadcast and CART captioning. The Written Knowledge Test was offered immediately following the workshop. The CRC Workshop is one of three requirements of the CRC program, along with a Written Knowledge Test and a Skills Test.

NCRA members are seeing more and more requests from clients that captioners hold national certifications, and many of these clients want to see copies of certifications. This demand comes from local governments, educational institutions, and judicial systems that need to meet ADA requests from the public.

Instructors Heidi Thomas, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC; Deanna Baker, FAPR, RMR; Karyn Menck, RDR, CRR, CRC; LeAnn Hibler, RMR, CRR, CRC; Stacey Potenza, CRC; and myself had way too much fun sharing our decades of experience in the captioning world. Our collective experience covers broadcast, education, theater, sports, stadium, high-tech, business, and web-based captioning. The purpose of the CRC Workshop is to provide both beginning and experienced captioners exposure to all aspects of this exciting field. Even though captioning is a well-established field, it is still relatively young compared to court reporting. Some captioners may be well versed in local news captioning and know nothing about educational or religious captioning, and vice versa.

Since the first CRC Workshop in New York City in 2015, the number of attendees has increased each year. This year, the increase was influenced by the Dec. 31, 2017, deadline for a large group of Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) holders. Members who passed the CRR Skills Test before Nov. 1, 2011, can earn the CRC by attending the CRC Workshop and passing the Written Knowledge Test before Dec. 31, 2017. Through November 2011, the CRR Skills Test consisted of literary material, just like the CRC Skills Test (the CRR Skills Test is now testimony material). The last opportunity in 2017 to take the CRC Written Knowledge Test is in October. Registration closes Sept. 30.

The CRC Workshop is also available online as a package of nine modules. Members who earned the CRR before 2011 and want to earn the CRC by Dec. 31 may watch the online workshop.

Our team of instructors knows only too well how quickly technology changes in the world of captioning. But the one aspect of captioning that remains the same is the need to write cleanly and conflict free. The CRC Workshop includes instruction about basic realtime writing for captioning. We cover the need to use prefixes and suffixes along with basic root words. We also talk about the never-ending need to prepare for upcoming assignments.

Technology has expanded the field of captioning from TV encoders to the internet. New platforms for online meetings develop every year. Competing caption streaming services bring new solutions that expand our capabilities all the time. Our instructors tried to cover the various methods of displaying our captions with an eye to future developments.

The captioning world grows every year, and the demand for qualified captioners is stronger than ever. Our committee looks forward to welcoming more and more Certified Realtime Captioners in the coming year.

Carol Studenmund, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, is a broadcast captioner in Portland, Ore., and co-chair of the NCRA Certified Realtime Captioner Certification Committee. She can be reached at cstudenmund@LNSCaptioning.com.

Take the NCSA Challenge to promote the profession and earn prizes

Image for NCSA challenge to promote court reporting and captioning: The American flag with the wordsNCRA’s National Committee of State Associations (NCSA) has kicked off its fourth annual challenge among members and state associations to promote the court reporting and captioning professions to the public.

The aim of the challenge is to encourage working professionals to reach out through career fairs and other activities to spread the word about what viable career paths court reporting and captioning are. The challenge will culminate during NCRA’s 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, Feb. 10-17. NCSA will review and tally all submissions by members and state associations, and all entries will be eligible for prizes ranging from free webinars to event registrations.

“The NCSA Challenge is open and waiting on you,” said 2018 NCSA Chair Huey L. Bang, RMR, CRR, an official court reporter from Pass Christian, Miss. “How can you take part and compete? By sharing what we do and getting the word out about our wonderful profession. Grab your machine, your laptop, and a fellow reporter, and compete to make a difference in the future of court reporting,” he added.

Bang suggests participants consider showcasing the profession by giving high school and career day demonstrations, participating in Veterans History Project events, hosting special events within the community, and more.

“My motivating factor has been the threat of court reporting school closings. So many court reporting schools have been closing as of late,” said Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter from San Antonio, Texas, and winner of the last two NCSA Challenges. To earn the top honors, Uviedo organized a team of volunteers to participate in dozens of high school career fairs throughout the state.

Today, she continues her quest and reports that through these and other efforts (including media outreach), enrollment in area court reporting schools has started to rise.

“San Antonio College had that threat a few years ago. We had 37 students enrolled at the time, and I made it my personal goal to see if we could attain 100 student enrollments. With 67 currently enrolled, we are well on our way,” she added.

NCRA members and state associations can learn more about the NCSA Challenge by visiting NCRA.org/government.

“The profession needs your help to grow the number of people entering court reporting and captioning. Participating is easy to do and the difference you make in our profession will benefit us all,” Bang said. “And who knows — you might even win!”

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.

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

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.

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

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.