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.

NCRF’s Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project receives grant

hard-of-hearing-com-smThe National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) recently won a $10,000 Innovation Grant from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Foundation. The grant supports NCRF’s new program, the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project, which seeks to preserve the stories of America’s war veterans with hearing loss using CART captioning. The Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project is an offshoot of NCRF’s continued work with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP). NCRF will use grant funds to host Hard-of-Hearing Heroes VHP Days across the nation.

“NCRF is honored to be one of the recipients of this extremely competitive grant that allows us to expand our work preserving the accounts of America’s veterans,” said Mike Nelson, CEO and Executive Director of NCRA and NCRF. “Receiving this grant showcases our organization and the court reporting profession to tens of thousands of association executives across the country. In addition, it promotes our members’ services to thousands of members of veterans and hearing loss organizations at whose conventions NCRF will host Hard-of-Hearing Heroes VHP Days, including our partners the Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA) and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).”

NCRF is one of four recipients of the ASAE Foundation’s Innovation Grants, which receives more than 100 applications each year.

“Since the ASAE Foundation started the Innovation Grant Program (IGP) five years ago, we have received a number of outstanding applications that illustrate the innovative work associations are doing to help improve the industry. The committee had a hard time selecting four winners again this year,” said Paul K. Farrell, 2016 chair of the IGP steering committee and associate director of audiology professional practices at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. “Congratulations to the winning associations!”

The inaugural Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project VHP Day event will be on Feb. 18 at HLAA’s headquarters in Bethesda, Md., in conjunction with Court Reporting & Captioning Week. NCRF will also host events at HLAA’s annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, in June and at ALDA’s annual convention in Orlando, Fla., in October.

“HLAA is delighted to work with the National Court Reporters Foundation on the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project. It is vitally important that veterans’ wartime experiences are preserved for generations to come and are accessible to people with hearing loss,” said Nancy Macklin, Director of External Affairs & Events for HLAA. “As a token of appreciation for their service, HLAA provides veterans with hearing loss a complimentary membership and convention registration. HLAA will assist NCRF in recruiting veterans with hearing loss to be interviewed for this project.”

Four veterans will be interviewed at each of three sessions on Feb. 18. The sessions are 9-10:30 a.m.; 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; and 1:30-3 p.m.

For each veteran’s interview, NCRF will need a volunteer to interview the veteran, a captioner to provide realtime for the veteran, and a reporter to transcribe the interview for the Library of Congress. Both the court reporter and captioner may earn 0.25 PDCs for each veteran interviewed.

If you would like to volunteer at the Feb. 18 event, please contact April Weiner, NCRF Manager, at aweiner@ncra.org.

NCRA presents at ALDA annual conference

Adam Finkel, NCRA’s assistant director of government relations, and Darlene Parker, RPR, director of steno captioning for the National Captioning Institute, presented a session called Captioning Quality Matters to attendees at the Association of Late Deafened Adults Convention held Oct. 8-12 in Norfolk, Va. An NCRA booth was also on display on the event’s exhibitor floor and was staffed by Brandon Schall, the association’s government relations specialist, who answered questions and shared information about NCRA’s work.

The captioning quality session provided attendees with an extensive history of captioning as well as information about broadcast captioning and the regulations set by the Federal Communications Commission regarding new guidelines that will be enforced on Jan. 15, 2015. Finkel and Parker also discussed CART captioning and explained how the Americans with Disabilities Act impacts this type of captioning that is provided to members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

“NCRA and the National Captioning Institute were well received by attendees at the session,” said Finkel. “The presentation focused on how broadcast captioning occurs and NCRA’s role in developing the captioning quality standards that were recently adopted by the FCC.”

Attendees also learned about the extensive training involved in becoming a broadcast or CART captioner, as well as the difference between live captioning and the captioning of pre-recorded events.

Other topics discussed included how breakdowns in the process of live captioning can lead to poor end results, how many captioning companies have reported being pleased with the FCC regulations set to take affect, and resources for learning more about captioning, including NCRA.org, captioningmatters.org, and TheJCR.com.

Finkel and Parker left the audience with several key points including the four that are commonly used to measure captioning quality – accuracy, synchronicity, completeness, and placement of captions. In addition, they noted that pre-recorded programs that are not captioned by a live captioner tend to be nearly 100 percent accurate.

Finkel also urged attendees to help ensure new FCC regulations are being met and that the quality standards of captioning are being met by providing feedback to the FCC and their local television stations. He also suggested attendees get involved with local ALDA chapters and meet with their local television and cable stations.

“The audience of between 30 and 35 attendees was engaging and thanked NCRA for working alongside the many disability rights groups to ensure greater access to broadcast and CART captioning,” Finkel said.

NCRA’s Board of Directors moves forward with new strategies

NCRA’s Board of Directors addressed a number of issues when it met Nov. 8 – 9 in Vienna, Va. The board received updates on the Vision for Educational Excellence Task Force, MOOC (massive open online course) program, on-demand testing system, and the 2014 Court Reporting and Captioning Week, which is scheduled for Feb. 16 – 22, 2014.

The board also approved the following:

  • NCRA will participate in the annual events of the Hearing Loss Association of America and the Association of Late Deafened Adults to educate people about captioning and CART;
  • NCRA will obtain a legal opinion as to how the new HIPAA regulations will affect the court reporting and captioning profession; and
  • NCRA will retain Ducker Worldwide, a firm based in Troy, Mich., to conduct and complete the Court Reporting and Captioning Industry Outlook as proposed by the Vision for Educational Excellence Task Force. Preliminary portions of the study are expected in the spring of 2014.

NCRA’s Board of Directors moves forward with new strategies

NCRA’s Board of Directors addressed a number of issues when it met Nov. 8-9 in Vienna, Va. The board received updates on the Vision for Educational Excellence Task Force, MOOC (massive open online course) program, on-demand testing system, and 2014 Court Reporting and Captioning Week, which is scheduled for Feb. 16-22, 2014.

The board also approved the following:

  • NCRA will participate in the annual events of the Hearing Loss Association of America and the Association of Late Deafened Adults to educate people about captioning and CART;
  • NCRA will obtain a legal opinion as to how the new HIPAA regulations will affect the court reporting and captioning profession; and
  • NCRA will retain Ducker Worldwide, a firm based in Troy, Mich., to conduct and complete the Court Reporting and Captioning Industry Outlook as proposed by VEETF. Preliminary portions of the study are expected in the spring of 2014.

FCC extends comment period for closed captioning

The Federal Communications Commission has extended the currently open comment period on closed captioning an additional 30 days. According to the FCC’s statement, the Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc., National Association of the Deaf, and Association of Late-Deafened Adults (“ALDA”), among others, requested the extension so that consumers and consumer electronics industry members have time to collaborate on the issues surrounding closed captioning before submitting comments.

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