Captions play a crucial function in the daily lives of millions

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn Dec. 7, TVTechnology.com posted an article by P. Kevin Kilroy, CEO of VITAC, discussing why the best approach to captioning remains rooted in the human experience of the spoken word.

Read more.

Local groups work to end court reporter shortage and speed up Tulsa County case flow

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyFOX 23 News in Tulsa, Okla., aired a story on Dec. 12 about local groups working to end the court reporter shortage in an effort to speed up Tulsa County case flow. NCRA member Allison Hall, RMR, CRR, an official court reporter for 18 years, is interviewed in the story.

Read more.

Longtime court reporter looks back on time spent in historical building

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Tulsa Business & Legal News posted an article on Dec. 5 that features former NCRA member Glenn Dorrough, a retired U.S. District Court Northern District of Oklahoma court reporter, reflecting on a 30-year career.

Read more.

From my heart: It is a privilege to serve you!

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyIn a Nov. 28 post on the Paradigm Reporting blog, Jan Ballman, FAPR, RPR, CMRS, reflects on how a trip with fellow firm owner Lisa DiMonte, RDR, CMRS, provided lessons on “overdelivering on high expectations.”

Read more.

California court reporter earns national certification

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Fresno Bee reported on Nov. 21 that NCRA member Sandy Edmonson, RDR, CRR, CRC, from Hanford, Calif., recently earned the Registered Diplomate Reporter certification. The article was generated by a press release issued on her behalf by NCRA.

Read more.

On receiving thanks

By Cathy Rajcan

Working with intelligent, pleasant adults is a joy. As a seasoned court reporter in the 1990s, I expanded my skill set to provide Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART). At that time, I remember arriving at a high-level medical conference to provide CART, and let me tell you, it was the most daunting assignment I had undertaken up to that time. The majority of terms were between three and seven syllables and in an area of medicine with which court reporters are not regularly exposed to: neurofibromatosis.

A bouquet of thanks

In my 33-year career, I have discovered that of the professional hats I wear – as both court reporter and captioner – by far the role within which I receive the most appreciation and recognition is on-site CART captioner. We provide a critical link for people who are deaf or have hearing loss to the world around them. And in the consumers’ professional settings, our skills have a powerful impact on their success. I believe that the most significant effect these services have is in a person’s professional life and in and medical and health settings. Perhaps this is why, when I arrived at the above-mentioned conference decades ago, the organizers gave me a corsage as an expression of their appreciation.

As a captioner, I spend a large part of my time focused on obtaining in advance as much prep materials as possible. Often this is like pulling teeth, as many invited speakers and lecturers are well-seasoned experts in their careers and, due to busy schedule, unfortunately put off preparing for an engagement until the 11th hour. Understanding their professional demands, I keep in regular communication with the event organizers to receive prep materials. When all is said and done, I am consistently emotionally moved and positively affected by the work and efforts of these organizations and their undeniably honorable influence on our world.

When preparing for a recent celebratory event for a different nonprofit, the point person at the organization provided me materials piecemeal as they became available. As the event drew closer, the materials grew to be more extensive, and some earlier versions of scripts were replaced with updated versions. I was also provided the event rundown, which is a timeline of when each piece of the show is to be cued up. Even on the day of the event, some of the moving pieces are morphing; and as I was on my way to downtown Chicago, there was a change in a song selection and thus lyrics, so I asked the organizer to print out the lyrics for me and bring them on-site to the venue.

Once on-site, I was provided the updated lyrics in hard copy form, and I plugged the pages into my 30-some page aggregated script. I explained to the organization’s point person that constructing the entire script, ready to go live, was like working on a jigsaw puzzle.

The event was a wonderful amalgam of an instrumental percussion piece, an instrumental work on piano, a moving vocal blues number, and an upbeat, fun, stylized rap about Chicago; the music was interspersed with congratulatory speeches, presentations of awards, and expressions of appreciation. During the speeches, a speaker apologized directly to me in advance for going off script, but I was mesmerized by the joy and excitement of the occasion and didn’t miss a beat. The awards and recognition portion of the event was followed by a mix and mingle, including open bar and hors d’oeuvres.

Reconnecting with acquaintances in the arts and disabilities communities and making new friends from among this talented, passionate, and compassionate group is adequate recompense in and of itself. However, in addition to being paid for my professional captioning services, my client followed up with having delivered to my home a few days later a beautiful bouquet of flowers! It is sure nice to be appreciated – and it’s a blessing to work with such a giving, thoughtful, and supportive organization.

 

Cathy Rajcan, RDR, CRR, CRC, is a captioner and agency owner based in Wheaton, Ill. She can be reached at efficiencyrptg@cs.com.

Montana court reporter earns national certification

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Sidney Herald reported on Nov. 21 that NCRA member Emily Niles, RMR, CRR, CRC, from Bozeman, Mont., recently earned the Certified Realtime Captioner certification. The article was generated by a press release issued on her behalf by NCRA.

Read more.

NCRA MEMBER PROFILE: Terra Torres, RMR, CRR, CRC

Resides:  Appleton, Wis.

Terra Torres, RMR, CRR, CRC

Terra Torres, RMR, CRR, CRC

Employment type: Official reporter

Member since: 1996

Graduated from: Gateway Technical College

Why did you decide to enter this profession, and how did you learn about the career?

I was a straight-A student but didn’t have the approval of my parents to attend a four-year college. My high-school counselor knew of this and told me I could still have a good career by attending a tech school and becoming a court reporter. I didn’t even know what a court reporter was at the time but the promise of a good salary and only two years of schooling drew me.

What has been your best work experience so far in your career?

Whenever I provide realtime, I feel both scared and incredibly proud of myself. It’s always challenging but also the only way we can distinguish ourselves from electronic recording and set ourselves as an integral part of the courtroom.

What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?

Passing the RMR, CRR, and CRC exams.

What was your biggest hurdle to overcome, and how did you do so?

My biggest hurdle to overcome in this profession has always been confidence. I had the skills but I’d walk into a deposition very timid with counsel and nervous about what I’d encounter. It took a long time to realize I needed to get over my fears and that I was good enough. My advice to newer reporters is still practice your writing skills after graduation, and then don’t be afraid to accept tougher assignments. This will make you better.

Is there something else you would like to share, such as a personal accomplishment?

This job is so sedentary that I believe for health and quality of life reporters need to get moving. I love to both run and lift weights. I’ve run three marathons, a few half marathons and 10Ks, and recently competed in the Figure division of an NPC bodybuilding show.

8 questions for the winner of the Kindle Fire 8

Amanda Marvin, RPR, CRC, from Tomahawk, Wis., won the drawing for a Kindle Fire 8 by renewing her membership in October. A new professional, Marvin graduated from court reporting school in 2015 and has been working as a captioner for nine months, currently doing remote CART work “for several different college classes including biology, statistics, psychology, criminal justice, and commercial irrigation.”

“CART captioning was always my ultimate goal, and I am so happy that with the help of the Certified Realtime Captioner certification, I was able to start my career helping others and doing what I wanted to do,” she says. “I continue my membership in NCRA because it has given me a big advantage in employment for companies who hire captioners. They consider the certification as a standard of professionalism and proof of the skills needed to do a quality job.”

The JCR reached out to Marvin with eight questions to get to know her a little better.

  1. What is your favorite thing about doing remote captioning?

My favorite thing about doing remote captioning is the fact that I can stay at home and have a flexible schedule that allows me to get my kids to school and their after-school activities.

  1. What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned while captioning for college classes?

I have learned that there are an enormous amount of biology terms that can be pronounced several different ways. I learn something new in that class every single day.

  1. What is your most memorable moment from court reporting school?

My most memorable moment from court reporting school was probably when I passed my first 225 test. School was a long, hard road, and that was a very exhilarating experience.

  1. What was the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far as a working professional, and how did you do so?

One of my biggest challenges is numbers and fingerspelling. Practicing, along with writing a statistics course and fingerspelling pop-up biology terms, has made me a better overall writer.

  1. What do you always include in your “elevator pitch” when you tell people what you do for a living?

I tell them I do CART, which most people aren’t familiar with. So then I tell them that it’s captioning what the professor says for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. I also make sure to tell them how there are many more people needed in the field, so if they know anyone who may be interested to let them know about it.

  1. What is your favorite benefit of being an NCRA member?

My favorite benefit of being an NCRA member is reading JCRs and the great wealth of information that is included in them as well as being able to list my certifications on my résumé.

  1. Before I became one, I never knew that captioners …

… had to put so much research and prep into doing a good job.

  1. What is your dream reporting or captioning assignment?

I would love to caption somewhere locally so people can see and understand what I do for a living.

 

Haven’t renewed yet? Members can take advantage of Black Friday discounts and giveaways, including purchase of membership renewals. Mark your calendars for Nov. 24.

Members give back: Honoring U.S. veterans

A family of four dressed for chilly weather pose outside in front of a suburban house

Michelle Keegan with her two sons and her husband, who served in the infantry in Operation Desert Storm

By Michelle Keegan

Over the years, I have transcribed many interviews of veterans through the Library of Congress Veterans History Project and the National Court Reporters Foundation. I feel honored to be able to take part in such a worthwhile program. Every interview brings a new understanding of the sacrifices that our veterans have made. Often I am left in awe by the courage that these men and women showed at such a young age when called to defend our nation. More times than not, after I finish transcribing an interview, I immediately want to transcribe another. I find that as the veteran recounts his or her story, I become mesmerized. I often find that I’m laughing along with the veteran to the funny stories that are remembered, and I get teary eyed along with the veteran when he or she relates some of the more difficult memories.

One memory that was recounted recently was by a veteran of the Air Force. He said that a bunch of guys got together and decided to go into town, and they bought a kitchen sink. And they took the kitchen sink with them. They had tipped off the photographers who went along that when they got to the target, they were going to dump the kitchen sink down on the target so the headlines would read in the paper that the Nazis got hit with everything and the kitchen sink. That’s a true story.

I have recently met with the head of the local Veterans Administration to start a Veterans History Project that will interview our city’s veterans. It is my hope that the veterans of our city will share their stories through the Veterans History Project so that we as a society may gain a better understanding of what their experiences in wars were like, what they did as they integrated back into society, and how they are able to cope with and overcome some of the difficult memories that they have. I hope that by hearing these stories, we as a society will not forget that throughout our history, our country has needed protection, and these men and women bravely answered the call. And many of them are our neighbors.

Veterans Day may have come and gone this year, but one way that we as court reporters can give back is by volunteering to transcribe the stories of a veteran. NCRA and, through it, NCRA members have been working with the Library of Congress since 2003 both to record and transcribe the stories of the diverse group of men and women who have served our nation.

Michelle Keegan, RMR, CRR, is a freelance reporter from Quincy, Mass. She can be reached at michellekeegan2010@hotmail.com.

For more information about the Veterans History Project, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF, or contact April Weiner, Foundation Manager, at aweiner@ncra.org.