Where are all the new court reporters?

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyNCRA members Isaiah Roberts; Margie Kruse, RMR, CRR; and Vernita Allen-Williams, RMR, were quoted in an article posted Nov. 1 by Chicago Lawyer. The article reports on the state of the court reporting profession.

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A freelancer’s new perspective of court: Lessons on deposition transcripts

Gavel on a folder filler with papers

Photo by: wp paarz

By Tricia Rosate

In California, freelancers often cover civil trials, and I’ve been reporting more trials lately. I consider myself a pretty good writer, but this pace is phenomenal. No shuffling through exhibits, no 10-minute lulls where the witness is taking their sweet time reading every page of a lengthy email exchange. This is theater.

More specifically, seeing deposition transcripts blown up on the big screen for the entire courtroom to see has really given me a new perspective. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s not necessary to capitalize things that don’t need to be (i.e., “I work in the Finance Department” vs. “I work in the finance department”). It’s distracting and looks strange. When in doubt and there’s no rule or reason to cap it, leave it alone.

Secondly, please use a proofreader. There were times in my career that I thought, “Who even reads this?” Well, one day it could be a judge, two counsel tables filled with attorneys, the clerk, bailiff, 14 jurors, the official (pro tem) reporter, and anyone observing.

On the subject of verbatim: When reporting video depositions, there is no need to include every single stutter, i.e., “It’s — it’s — it’s — it’s the third one down.” One set of dashes is just fine. All the dashes look so awful on the big screen and make it almost unreadable. I know we’re verbatim and the parties make their own record, but a little best judgment goes a long way. I guarantee that the jurors are not counting the stutters and thinking the reporter dropped the ball if they’re not all in there.

Then there’s another verbatim thing that I know has been a hot topic: the 2000s. The attorney says, “So it happened in two ten?” The reporter knows the attorney means 2010 but writes “2’10.” I’m not saying this is wrong. However, please picture it blown up on a screen in a courtroom during a trial, with 14 jurors looking at the transcript — and, yes, they do — and the attorney telling the jurors to please disregard the typo.

“But it’s not a typo! He said two ten, not 2010,” you might say. If someone doesn’t say two thousand and ten, it’s the reporter’s call on how to format it. But not one of these jurors understands or cares why the reporter formatted it that way. It looks weird and disjointed.

In somewhat the same vein, I recently Googled myself to see if there were any privacy concerns I should address, and I came across several excerpts of my transcripts posted online, which again goes to my point. People do read your transcripts! Sometimes many more people than you ever imagined!

Tricia Rosate, RDR, CRR, is a freelancer in San Diego, Calif. This article is revised from a post she wrote in the “Guardians of the Record” Facebook discussion group. Tricia Rosate can be reached at rosate.csr@gmail.com.

Paying it forward

Stack of hands as if doing a team cheerBy Allison Kimmel

Do you remember the day you learned that you passed your RPR certification exam? I distinctly remember when I found out — Christmas Eve. I had taken the test in November of 1989. Every day I would come home from work and ask my husband, Bob, if I had gotten the results. Each time the answer was no. Unbeknownst to me, he had placed the results — unopened — in a wrapped box under the Christmas tree. It could have ended very badly had I not received positive news. He is a very blessed man.

Passing the RPR meant I passed muster and might be able to succeed in court reporting after all. Those credentials represented a lot to me then, and they still do to this day. The other professionals in my national association had given me their imprimatur, and I gleefully joined their ranks as a professional registered member.

Several years have passed since those early days, and I know that I would not be where I am today without the help of mentors and reporters sharing their experiences along the way. Those mentors and reporters began giving advice and encouragement from day one, and it has not stopped. I am lucky to have been surrounded by such a fantastic group of dedicated professionals.

We all have anecdotes of the valuable knowledge that others have passed along to us. To illustrate one such story and the long-term impact of a simple act, when I was a newly graduated reporter in 1987, Jean Long, RPR, graciously shared with me a medical term. She had spent some time looking for the proper spelling at one point in her career; the term was bruit. It is pronounced BREW-EE. She walked me over to the dictionary to point it out. I never forgot her short one-minute lesson.

A couple of years later, at a different court reporting agency, another reporter was struggling to find that exact word. I knew it immediately — not from school days, but from Jean’s lesson. It was time to pay it forward, and I proudly did.

After gaining some real-life experience and much-needed confidence, I came to the realization that it was not enough to be a contented dues-paying member in my professional associations. I wanted to do more. I had observed others volunteering and felt that I could offer perhaps a slightly different approach. It was time — time to repay all those gifts of knowledge and information that were so readily shared with me. I had received so many over the years.

I started out small. Volunteering was out of my comfort zone, and I truly wanted to be brave and emulate some of the best professionals in our business. The first time I volunteered for my state association was in 2002. We had a need to represent the court reporting profession at the All-Ohio High School Counselors Conference in Columbus. With another reporter, Lori Jay, RPR, CMRS, we were responsible for promoting the court reporting and captioning career choices to the school counselors who approached our table of brochures and equipment. Donna Karoscik, RDR, CRR, CRC, provided a demonstration of realtime to the group by captioning the keynote speaker. We were enthusiastic, and we worked hard that day to advocate for our profession.

After that experience, I began helping my state association with administering the national certification exams, first as someone to assist and then as a chief examiner for the CRR tests. I tried to be the voice of calm for test candidates, and I enjoyed seeing the test candidates succeed. I also began assisting my state association at the Ohio Judicial Conference’s Court Technology Conference. With many vendors present touting their “technology,” it was an eye-opening experience. I now know just how crucial it is for court reporting associations to be represented at such events — and displaying the best we have to offer in court reporting and realtime technology. My state association members attend this event year after year without fail.

Fast forward a few years. Our state association needed members willing to serve on the board. After some persuasive discussion by Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, and a multitude of excuses on my end, I agreed to serve on the Board of Directors of the Ohio Court Reporters Association (OCRA). I came in as vice president and moved my way up the ladder. It was at that point that I began to understand the intricacies of leading, the minefields — some of which cannot be avoided — and the heavy lifting that volunteering involved. My prior volunteer experiences were rewarding but nowhere near as challenging. The successes were amazing; the failures devastating.

I was working as an official court reporter in state court during this time. My court administration seemed enamored with digital recording technology and eagerly proclaimed the cost savings to be realized to any who would listen. It appeared to be an uphill and frustrating battle.

Through the efforts of the late Jerry Kelley and other volunteers across the country, I quietly began to amass a database of current electronic and digital recording failures. It was an informal, unsanctioned effort, but the group saw a need. The database effort seemed a tad futile at times, but I can attest that the information gathered was useful at a key moment during my tenure on the OCRA board, particularly when the Cleveland Plain Dealer came calling for commentary on an article regarding the court reporter versus electronic and digital recording debate. That volunteer effort provided relevant, documented cases to cite, not just hearsay or conjecture. It was a small victory.

Coincidentally, it was around this point that Stephen Zinone, RPR, reached out to me about serving on the NCRA Cost Comparison Task Force. Our task was to do a complete analysis of the cost of digital recording technology versus a court reporter — using best practices for each. To say this was right up my alley is an understatement. Steve was a thoughtful, smart leader who asked for input from all of us. The entire group worked hard to make the Task Force’s white paper bulletproof. We accomplished our goal, though it took many emails, conference calls, an in-person meeting in Nashville, and a couple of years of persistence. To this day, when OCRA members attend the Ohio Judicial Conference’s Court Technology Conference, we have the white paper there to discuss with attendees.

That first experience serving as a task force volunteer at the national level gave me a huge sense of fulfillment. I was proud of our work, and I was hooked. I knew I could make a difference — if not for myself, perhaps for others.

Working with students as an adjunct faculty member for Clark State Community College is something I enjoy immensely, so signing up to work on the Item Writing Committee seemed a natural fit. Brenda Fauber, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CPE, served as the chairperson of the committee. The group met in the Washington, D.C., area. We spent time training with a professional consultant, and we discussed at length what is involved in writing proper written knowledge test questions using approved authoritative sources. (Yes, there is a question involving bruit — in case you were wondering. I’m paying it forward.) I continue to serve on the committee; along the way, I have begun serving on the Skills Test Writing Committee.

What an education I have received! I have gained a deeper appreciation of our national certification tests and the incredible vision of those who saw the necessity of certification. I have learned why, as a professional association, we must continually strive to ensure that the certifications are valid and fair measures of both the entry-level reporter and the seasoned reporter. Those who pass the NCRA certification tests can be confident that they, too, pass muster and have indeed earned a worthwhile achievement.

Comedian Lily Tomlin once stated, “I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.” This applies to each one of us. Let me ask: Who is better than those of us who are in the trenches to represent and understand the issues we, as a profession, face? Who is going to do the heavy lifting and advocating for our profession if we are not willing to step up and do it for ourselves?

Together, we can make a difference. The value of volunteer work benefits your professional associations and you. I could enumerate a variety of reasons to volunteer, but you know many of them already. Think about this: You make time for what matters to you. My profession matters to me. I sincerely hope it matters to you. We need you. We need more than your dues. We need your participation. We need your voice. We need your input and ideas. We need you at all levels, whether it is state or national. I urge you to be brave. Volunteer.

Why do I volunteer?

I volunteer to give back to a profession that I love. I volunteer to pay it forward and to thank those along the way who reached out a helping hand, gave me a word of advice, offered reassurance, and sometimes provided a swift kick in the rear or a shoulder to cry on. Volunteering is my way of saying thanks for making sure I passed muster, to thank those who came before me and those who will continue long after me. Thank you for being there.

 

Allison A. Kimmel, RDR, CRR, CRC, works as a reporter in the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio, and as an adjunct faculty member for the court reporting and captioning program at Clark State Community College.

NCRA member talks about the evolution of court reporting

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyAn article posted Oct. 30 by the Daily Record, Jacksonville, Fla., quotes NCRA member Melanie Simpkins, RMR, CRR, CRC, in a story that explores how capturing the record in the courtroom has evolved through advances in technology.

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NCRA MEMBER PROFILE: Carin Geist, RDR, CRR

Currently resides in: Arvada, Colo.

Carin Geist, RDR, CRR

Carin Geist, RDR, CRR

Employment type: Freelancer with Hunter + Geist, Inc.

Member since: 1985

Graduated from: Mile Hi College

Theory: Forrest Brenner

What are your favorite briefs?

SPOET (as opposed to)

OFD (off the top of my head)

RO*UF (which translates to *CHECK, and I can quickly and easily scan for all of my *CHECK portions and make corrections before submitting a rough draft)

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

As a senior in high school, I was researching all the various options for my future education and career path, but was not sure which route I wanted to take. I always had an interest in the law and was captivated by the courtroom dramas I would watch on TV, but the prospect of many years in college did not appeal to me. I was employed as a hostess at a local restaurant during high school and met another employee who was working her way through court reporting school. I learned of the opportunity to work within the legal profession, being an integral part of the justice system as a court reporter. After a visit to a local court reporting school, I knew this would be the career for me!

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

I was fortunate enough quite a few years ago to work on a case that took me to Osaka, Japan, for five weeks of depositions. It was a rewarding and challenging experience professionally to work with interpreters, attorneys, and witnesses from all over the world providing realtime translation. I also truly loved the experience of spending time in another country and being able to travel to different sites in Japan and soak up a little of the culture.

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

My first court reporting job out of school was with a small freelance firm that had contracts with the State Board of Medical Examiners and a division of the federal government that prosecuted Superfund cases, which were lawsuits involving companies in the chemical and petroleum industries that had released hazardous materials into the environment. Being a small firm, there was no real mentorship program in place for recent graduates, and I was immediately thrown into reporting depositions in these cases. While I would not recommend this “baptism by fire” for a new reporter, I did learn quickly that my confidence in my abilities was a very important part of how well I could do my job. I continued to work to increase my speed and strived to pass the RMR. Knowing that I could write efficiently at 260 words per minute gave me the confidence to report depositions that required a high level of skill.

What surprised you about your career?

I have to say that 33 years after entering court reporting school, I am pleasantly surprised that I am still reporting today and thoroughly enjoying the choice I made to be a court reporter. In 1984 when I began school, there were rumblings at that time that soon this job would be obsolete, and tape recorders would be performing our work. I am grateful I decided to ignore those warnings; and when I hear the same things today, I just have to smile.

Is there something else you would like to share – a hobby, special interest, personal accomplishment, etc?

As court reporters, we unfortunately do a great deal of sitting during the course of our daily work. I try and make sure to spend as much of my free time as possible in more active pursuits. I am an avid runner and skier; and I have recently taken up cycling this summer, riding in the Courage Classic and raising money for our Colorado Children’s Hospital. The 84-mile route took me through the beautiful Rocky Mountains, and it was a new challenge I truly enjoyed.

NCRA member’s Realtime Contest win reported in local newspaper

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Sarasota, Fla., Herald-Tribune reported that Dee Boenau, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, won the 2017 NCRA Realtime Contest. Boenau, who works as a broadcast captioner, won the contest for the second year in a row.

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Debilitating disease no deterrent for dedicated Astros fan

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyAn Oct. 19 article in the Houston [Texas] Chronicle spotlights Victor Lombrana, a Houston Astros fan who is blind and deaf due to Type 2 Usher syndrome. The article mentions NCRA member Susan Henley, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer in Houston, who captions the Astros’ and Rockets’ home games.

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Captioning at the Fringe 2017

By Claire Hill

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world, which celebrated its 70th anniversary this year. The Scottish capital hosts more than 3,000 performances each August, featuring theater, music, comedy, dance, physical theater, circus, cabaret, children’s shows, musicals, opera, spoken word, exhibitions, and events.

Accessibility has always been difficult to achieve at the Fringe. Tight budgets and the use of historical and found spaces generally mean that people with sensory and mobility impairments are not well catered to. However, the Fringe Society is committed to increasing accessibility at the festival, with guides for performers and venues on how to put on accessible performances and generally make their shows more inclusive.

Having visited the festival for a heady 36 hours in 2016, I knew I wanted to work there the following year, and I set about approaching venues, artists, production companies, and agents to offer live captioning in 2017. Initially, I was met with silence or a regretful: “That would be lovely, but there’s no money to pay for it.” But the Pleasance Theatre Trust responded positively to my call and suggested to all their companies that they program a captioned performance. As they run 23 venues with about 10 shows per day in each venue, this is a significant number of people reached! The result was that I was booked for 21 performances, one of which was a live comedy Accessibility Gala, and the remainder were scripted or semi-scripted plays. I’d hoped for more live comedy take-up, but for whatever reason, that wasn’t forthcoming. I knew I would have to manage the scripts and make sure I got recordings in advance to try to output accurately.

Tech set-up

I used a 55” LED screen on an adjustable stand for all the captioning. Having LED rather than plasma meant there was less risk of stage lights washing out the screen and making the captions unreadable. Having an adjustable stand meant the screen could be higher or lower depending on the size of the venue. Being on wheels meant it could easily be moved from venue to venue (however, stairs and cobbles were a challenge!). A traditional three-line caption unit needs to be flown or rigged above the stage, leading to longer set-up times and more rigging than is generally available in Fringe venues.

I used Text on Top for software, which is designed for providing subtitles at conferences. It also has a full-screen and scripting functionality so that I could format the scripts and then output them a clause at a time. The LED screen was connected via HDMI to a laptop running the Text on Top display software, which could sit on the legs of the adjustable stand. My connection to that setup is wireless, so I could sit wherever was most convenient in the auditorium. Usually this was at the front, because of the need for a table, but it could also be at the back by the sound desk, if the show is mic’ed. Although we used the full screen for the bigger venues (displaying about eight lines of text), the display can also be confined to the top of the screen (displaying five lines of text) if there are likely to be issues with performers obscuring the screen.

I brought all the equipment with me to each venue: two laptops, power brick, battery-powered light, and Text on Top radio dongles. The Pleasance A/V team brought the LED screen and the table and arranged for the power in each venue.

In most venues, we had 15 minutes between shows to get in and set up while working around the companies moving sets in and tech changing lights or clearing up debris from the previous production. It was a quick turnaround, but no show was delayed because of the captioning!

Prep

For prep material, I asked for an up-to-date script from each company, sometimes more than one version, and a video, ideally from a previous performance during the festival, or older if no changes had been made. The Pleasance gave me contact details for each company, and I emailed each one direct requesting the script and a video if already existing. Most replied in a timely manner, but scripts were still being sent during the Festival run! The videos were either taken by Pleasance for archiving or shot by the company themselves on a GoPro. Having a recording is essential, so for one show I provided a digital audio recorder, which sat next to the tech team, to get an audio recording to compare against the script. To prepare the script for captioning, I stripped out all the stage directions, made the speaker labels consistent, clearly and concisely labeled the sound effects, and inserted regular punctuation, if not already present. I checked song lyrics, which aren’t always included in a script, as well as spellings of proper names or technical terms. This takes four to five hours per script, including watching the video.

There are quite a few subjective decisions involved in creating a captioning file, like captioning sound effects. You always have to keep the audience in mind, so if a sound effect is obviously caused by an action on stage, it wouldn’t necessarily be included. However, if it’s off stage and then the characters go on to react to it, it should be included, like an explosion or a gunshot.

Describing music is also quite hard. If it’s very much in the background, it should usually be left out, especially if there is speaking over the top. The Stagetext style guide talks about omitting music that has a subliminal effect. However if it’s in the foreground, it needs to be described, usually in two words, which can be tricky. One word conveys the tone or emotional effect, and one word identifies the instrument. If it’s a recorded song, the artist and the song name should be displayed. Caption users are often deafened or hard of hearing, so they might remember the song or can hear enough of the frequencies to recognize it. If the lyrics are clear and relevant, I output them if there’s no other talking going on onstage. For example, Me and My Bee used the songs “Only the Good Die Young” and “I Believe I Can Fly,” so the lyrics were definitely important.

In my experience at Fringe 2017, when the writer of the show is talking about something personal to them, they use broadly similar but slightly different words in each performance; this came up in, for example, Perfectly Imperfect Women by Danyah Miller and Testosterone by Kit Redstone. I wrote the monologues live, but then when other actors joined in, I reverted to scripted material so the script could be output line by line. Post Festival, I developed a checklist to try to identify at an early stage which performances might need a stenographer and which could use a theater captioner [Ed. note: In the U.K., a theater captioner performs a similar role as an offline broadcast captioner in the U.S.].

How it went

Generally, the captioning went really well and was positively received by the companies and the technical staff. Everyone was aware of his or her captioned show and happy about the opportunity to provide access. The screen was always set up with welcoming text before the audience started coming in so that caption users could work out the best place to sit so they could read the captions and see the actors. The Pleasance A/V team did most of the hard work of finding the power and positioning the screen each time. My job was just to set up the two laptops and make sure the text was a good size for the venue; that my setup was okay, with a small light to make my notes visible; and that the laptop was at a comfortable angle. Although there were slight deviations from the scripts, usually it was transposition of two phrases, in which case I outputted the two phrases one after another. If words were added, I had the option to write on the steno machine or type into the text window.

A few shows at the start had some unexpected issues:

On arrival at the first show, Once Were Pirates, the director came over and said, “Oh yes, it’s our captioned performance, did you get the new script I sent you, we’ve changed most of it!” Of course, I hadn’t received it, so I wrote that one completely live on the steno machine, as the scripted material previously formatted didn’t match up with what was being said on stage. This was one of the performances that no video had been received for, so it really made the point of how important it is to get a recording.

The Young Pleasance production the Curse of Cranholme Abbey highlighted some weaknesses in the software when it came to multiple characters speaking quickly one after another. This was an extreme example, as there were 27 performers all keen to get their words in, but it led to some changes in the script formatting for future shows. I realized that each script file in Text on Top needed to be much shorter. After approximately 700 words, the output would start slowing down and the cursor would lag behind the text being output. After the first day, I made sure each script was split into at least 12 sections and that I had a full job dictionary ready to go for each show, with speaker names and special terms. Also, Text on Top has a Text Finder function, so as you type a word into the output window, it simultaneously searches for it in the open script. So if I missed words, I could use this to get back on track in my script. I wrote out the key sequence to escape from one script file and open the following one (Esc. – down arrow – right arrow) on a Post-it and put it on the laptop screen to remind me.

On the set of “Snowflake”

At the performance of Snowflake by Mark Thomson, the screen was plugged into a non-hard power source. As the performance began, the power block we were plugged into, which also controlled the neon sign at the back, was switched off as a lighting effect! Luckily, it came back on again, but the screen size had reset and there wasn’t an opportunity to change it, so the text was a bit small throughout. To be fair to the crew, they appreciated the importance of this and didn’t turn the neon sign off again, even though I think they were supposed to at a couple of points. After this, I made sure that each display laptop had a wireless mouse attached so that I could adjust the font size without having to crawl around on the floor!

Next year

Next year I will have a theater captioner on board to split up the shows between scripted and non- or semi-scripted. Then the captioner can prepare and output the scripted shows, leaving me to work on semi-scripted or comedy shows. This would mean we could do two captioned shows at the same time and work at a larger variety of venues. In 2017, I covered up to four shows per day, and this worked fine. The set-up would be the same, as Text on Top proved to be a very reliable system, once the speed issue had been worked out.

Getting a recording of each show, ideally in its Edinburgh run, proved to be essential, and the only shows where unexpected things happened were the ones where a recording hadn’t been provided. Two staff members in Edinburgh would enable us to visit venues on previous days and audio-record shows in order to check the script and run a dummy output to check speed.

I’ve already booked the accommodation for next year and started contacting venues. Once bitten by the Fringe bug, you’re never the same again!

Claire Hill, RPR, CRC, is a freelancer in London, England. She can be reached at mrsclairehill@gmail.com. This is a revision of an article that originally appeared on her website under the same title.

Ellen Grauer receives 2017 International Women’s Entrepreneurial Award

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn Oct. 10, the National Network of Reporting Companies shared an Oct. 9 press release from the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge Foundation (IWEC) announcing that NCRA associate member Ellen Grauer will receive the 2017 IWEC Award at the organization’s annual conference in November. Grauer has been recognized for her “trailblazing work offering first-class court reporting services to the legal community nationally and globally for the past 20 years.”

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A bird’s-eye view of disability leadership in Chicago

By LeAnn M. Hibler

Sometimes as a CART captioner, it is just an honor to write a job and have a bird’s-eye view of an event, so when my colleague asked me if I wanted to work an event promoting disability leadership, I jumped at the chance. It was a conversation between two long-time friends, Marca Bristo and Judith Heumann.

Judith Heumann acquired her disability due to polio when she was a young girl growing up in Brooklyn. As she matured into a young adult in the 1950s and 1960s, she faced both attitudinal and physical barriers in society. Through the years, she has engaged in activities to improve the lives of others nationally and internationally, including serving in the Clinton and Obama administrations and with the World Bank organization. Her most recent project, “The Heumann Perspective,” hopes to bring attention and spur discussion on disability rights through social media platforms.

I worked the assignment as an independent contractor for my colleague and fellow captioner Cathy Rajcan, RDR, CRR, CRC, owner of Efficiency Reporting. The Chicago-area CRCs have great professional, supportive relationships and work together to ensure that the people who need our services have a qualified captioner for their events.

Cathy provided me with an electronic copy of the program from which I was able to pull names of presenters and sponsors and add them to my job dictionary prior to the event.

I used Text on Top, which overlays the captions on the same screen as the PowerPoints. This was Cathy’s equipment, so I needed to meet with her prior to the event and get it from her. It is not unusual for us to share our equipment with one another, whether it’s an LCD projector and screen or the Text on Top device. Finding time to meet may seem like an inconvenience, but it actually forces us to take some time to get together face-to-face and visit, which is a rarity with our busy schedules. Cathy provided me with her settings for the Text on Top so I could mirror the way she had done it in the past.

The need for captioning has grown significantly as more people learn about the various ways it can be used to bring communication access to the world, whether it’s on-site or remote, stationary or mobile. The demand has certainly grown beyond the supply of providers we have. I would encourage all the realtime court reporters out there to consider using their unique skill on the captioning side of things to provide access to all, including people with hearing loss, people whose native language is not English, or even those of us who are not paying attention and need to look at the captions as a refresher!

Chicago has so many people who were and still are instrumental in the disability rights movement, including two amazing women who were involved with my event: Marca Bristo, President and CEO of Access Living, a Center for Independent Living; and Karen Tamley, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. As an on-site CART captioner, I am often embedded in the disability community, and I love hearing stories about their involvement, whether it was at the University of California–Berkley or Washington, D.C. I’m impressed by folks who took their lives into their hands and blocked buses to bring attention to transportation disparities or even recently participated in sit-ins on Capitol Hill to shine a light on proposed Medicaid changes that would have had dire consequences for many disabled individuals. They’ve even been arrested for the cause!

The takeaways are that people with disabilities deserve to participate in the world the same as able-bodied people, yet they have to continue to fight for equal rights, such as the right to make decisions about where and how they live their lives. People are often afraid of the unknown when it comes to interacting with a person with a disability, but I encourage all of us to look not at the disability, but rather see them as people with intelligence and personality.

LeAnn M. Hibler, RMR, CRR, CRC, is a CART captioner in Joliet, Ill. She can be reached at lmhreporting@aol.com.