Stenography firm expands its Richmond presence

Hart Reporting has expanded its presence in Richmond, Va., with the lease of office space, according to an article posted by Richmond BizSense.com on Sept. 18.

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Depos to Prague

A blog by Planet Depos posted Sept. 13 on JD Supra suggests moving depositions of German witnesses or witnesses residing in Frankfurt to Prague in light of the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt putting a hold on depositions for the indeterminate future.

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Stenograph’s 80 years in business gets attention in Chicago newspaper

The Daily Herald posted a feature article on Sept. 17 about Stenograph, based in Chicago, Ill., and the company’s dominant presence in the shorthand industry. The article notes that the firm, which is a NCRA Corporate Sponsor, supports the NCRA A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program.

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Statement from the NCRA CEO: Sinclair Broadcast Group

By Marcia Ferranto

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

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

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

But the FCC needs to hear from you, too!

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

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

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

HGTC hopes to fill nationwide court reporter shortage

WMBF News  reported on Sept. 5 that Horry-Georgetown Technical College in Conway, S.C., is working to create a court reporter program in response to the nationwide shortage.

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Litigation Services announces its acquisition of Superior Court Reporters & Deposition Services

Litigation Services, based in Las Vegas, Nev., announced in a press release issued Sept. 5 that the firm has acquired Superior Court Reporters & Deposition Services of Ventura, Calif.

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NCRA Committee addresses use of automatic speech recognition captioning

A new NCRA committee, the Captioning Regulatory Policy Committee, has recently been formed. Its charge is to monitor the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) actions and other actions that affect the closed captioning industry and to respond accordingly.  The committee met on Sept. 4, 2018, to address the automatic speech recognition (ASR) issue.

ASR has already infiltrated some local TV news markets.  Some of you may have heard that an entire station group plans to transition to an ASR system in the near future. The committee members don’t know yet how the deaf advocacy groups or the FCC will respond. The deaf advocacy groups have been made aware of the coming switch to ASR, and NCRA is sure they will keep a close eye on it and respond accordingly. The FCC’s stance on ASR-generated closed captioning is that, like any captioning, it must meet FCC accuracy requirements.

In the Committee’s observations thus far, if the conditions in the newscast are perfect — reasonable speed, people not talking over each other, routine news subject matter/terminology, lack of background noise, no singing, etc. — ASR captions can be good; but if there is background noise, singing, chanting, a fast-paced program with people speaking over each other, difficult terminology, etc., the captions can be unusable. In addition, ASR systems display erratic punctuation. One must watch a variety of programs for more than just a few minutes to observe the varied results of ASR. They can be all over the board.  About the only plus for ASR is it is verbatim — when it hears and correctly interprets what is being said.

The emergence of ASR obviously makes us feel uneasy. The best actions you can take are as follows: if you see subpar captions, automated or otherwise, notify the station and complain to the FCC. NCRA offers a set of instructions; be sure to include the station, program, time, and specific examples.

Please rest assured that NCRA is closely monitoring the ASR issue.  Please keep in mind that our best defense is for you to continue to produce top-quality captions for our viewers and to provide clients with excellent customer service. Don’t forget: No ASR system comes close to providing consistently accurate captions at the level that a human captioner can.

The Captioning Regulatory Policy Committee invites questions about this Committee and its status. Questions can be directed to mbarusch@ncra.org.

 

O’Brien & Levine earns top ratings for second consecutive year

O’Brien & Levine was voted the #1 best court reporting and video deposition company for the second consecutive year by readers of the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

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VITAC becomes pre-approved captioning vendor for California community colleges

Sports Video Group reported on Aug. 21 that VITAC is now a pre-approved vendor for the Distance Education Captioning and Transcription (DECT) grant for the California Community Colleges system.

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Epiq announces continued expansion in Switzerland

Epiq announced in a press release issued Aug. 28 that it has continued the growth of its global operations with the opening of a new data center in Switzerland.

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