What we learned at TAC

Members of NCRA's Test Advisory Committee. Karyn Menck attended remotely.

Members of NCRA’s Test Advisory Committee. Karyn Menck attended remotely.

By Chris Willette

The Test Advisory Committee (TAC) met June 8-11 at NCRA headquarters in Reston, Va., to work on test creation for upcoming online testing opportunities. As Board liaison, I was fortunate to attend and participate in the process.

TAC is supported by two other committees: the Skills Test Writing Committee and Written Knowledge Test Committee. The volunteers of these three groups work all year long to provide vetted questions for the Written Knowledge Tests as well as “takes” for the Skills Tests of the NCRA certification programs.

Along with the work of TAC comes the opportunity to learn new things and share ideas about briefs and theories. There is also a lot of laughter along the way. Once we realized that there was so much valuable information, we decided to keep a list of what we thought members might not know.

Hint: We learned these things while preparing future tests. You might want to pay attention!

  • X-ray as a noun is capitalized; as a verb, Merriam-Webster shows it with no capitalization.
  • Pawnshop is one word.
  • Dumpster is capitalized.
  • Canceling/cancelling and traveling/travelling are both acceptable as correct spellings.
  • Curveball is one word.

 

Briefs

central STRAL
Central Avenue STRAEF
exchange CH
good evening GAOENG
good luck GLUCK
good morning GORNG
greater weight of the evidence GRAEFD
keep in mind KAOEMD
iPad P*AD
iPhone FO*EN
iPod P*OD
off the top of my head FOPD
pain and suffering PUFRG
text message TEJ
volunteer VO

 

Brief groupings

aware WAUR
aware of WAUFR
are you aware RAUR
are you aware of RAUFR
are you aware of the RAUFRT
were you aware WRAUR
were you aware of WRAUFR
were you aware of the WRAUFRT
left arm LARM
right arm RARM
left leg LLG
right leg RLG
shoulder SHOURLD
left shoulder LOURLD
right shoulder ROURLD

 

Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, is the 2016-2017 NCRA President-Elect and a freelance reporter in Wausau, Wis. She can be reached at cwillette2@gmail.com.

 

Through school and back again: A new CART provider’s journey

Back before the stress, frustration, and soul crushing — ahem, challenging — days of court reporting school, I did something much easier: I went to a four-year university.

And I loved it. So much so, in fact, that I just wouldn’t leave. I blissfully flitted from Greek mythology to earthquake science to Italian and racked up almost 30 more credits than I needed to graduate. I like to be thorough. And I do find the vast majority of subjects (sorry, economics) quite interesting.

At the time, I justified this binge of academia with a dreamy “I love learning!” The older, wiser, and bitterly indebted me, who is still paying for it all, thinks I might as well have just said, “I hate money!” But I digress.

The point is that as soon as I heard about CART in theory class, I knew it was the career for me. Being able to directly help others access their education while working in an intellectually stimulating and ever-changing environment, actually using that knowledge of Greek mythology in everyday life? Sign me up!

Going through court reporting school with the goal of becoming a CART provider was not as straightforward as preparing to become a reporter. For reporting, the dictation is legal in nature, the class requirements are determined by the court reporter’s board, and realtime is something you’re only encouraged to do after a couple of years in the field. CART is somewhat of an afterthought or even seen as something you can resort to if you get stuck at 180.

My teachers gave me some great suggestions on how to prepare myself for CART, but without the formal instruction and guidance provided in my court reporting classes, I was often left to my own devices and made some mistakes along the way. Fortunately, I did find a fantastic CART class at a different school late in my education, and I highly recommend taking one if you can, but I think classes like these are all too rare.

In my most productive summer ever, I finished school in June 2013, passed the July CSR, and started working in August. Since I know not all students have access to CART training, I would like to share my top 10 tips — both the things I did and wish I had done — to prepare for CART work straight out of school.

1. Clean up your realtime. Get used to punctuating while you write, resolving your conflicts, and practicing your numbers for those math classes. Do not neglect accuracy; remember, you shouldn’t be doing much editing when doing CART. Push for speed as well, but keep it balanced. While I think low- and mid-speed students should be working on fixing fingering problems, I see no problem with high-speed students defining misstrokes if they don’t conflict with anything. I have 30 entries just for INSTRUCTOR, and my eternally dragging right ring finger would destroy my realtime if I didn’t define, for example, “SAPBLD” as “sand.”

2. Become a fingerspelling champ. This is the number one thing I wish I had worked on more, and I still have not achieved champ status. I used to sit in trial-speed classes and fingerspell random words.

CART JCR Weekly photo13. Sit out. This is invaluable. I actually still sit out with experienced CART providers and always pick up new and brilliant tips. Just figuring out where to sit can be challenging in this job, not to mention what you should do if, for example, the professor turns on an uncaptioned video or speaks in another language. I jot down questions during class, and the CART provider is always happy to talk afterward.

4. Get comfortable with other people looking at your screen. I know it’s scary at first! I was the student who would find an isolated corner and tilt my screen away from of any other human’s possible line of sight until my teacher forced me to get over that by standing behind me and staring at my realtime. Because you know what your clients will do? To practice, grab a bored family member, be the weirdo at Starbucks with all your equipment, or set up smack-dab in the middle of your lab — no small text or screen tilting allowed.

5. Keep your legal briefs and software settings separate. You don’t want 25 lines per page, you don’t want “Q BY MR. ATTORNEY” randomly popping up, and you don’t want the word “pathos” translating as “page objection sustained.” In addition to having a legal dictionary, I have two separate user IDs in my software so I can switch from CART to court reporting without adjusting my layout settings.

6. Know your software. You’ve heard it a million times, but there’s a reason for that. Setting up phonetic translation and being able to manipulate your display, for example, are crucial. Two minutes before class started one day, my client asked me to change my text color, background color, and text size. It should have been simple, but there were unexpected problems, such as the black background causing my include files to be invisible since they were programmed with black text. Then my headers turned on unexpectedly, causing huge jumps in my display.

It was just a mess. That day still haunts my dreams.

7. Get a mentor. Or get two, as I did. I’ve bothered these wonderfully patient women with panicky questions on such topics as wardrobe, taxes, salary negotiation, and even wedding reception locations. (Obviously, we became friends. I would not suggest beginning your relationship with wedding-related questions, but consider yourself lucky if it ever does go there.)

8. Read up on CART ethics and guidelines. You know all those lovely codes you’re responsible for knowing as a certified court reporter? There’s a whole different set of rules for CART, and issues such as confidentiality and client sensitivity are a big deal. NCRA’s website is a good place to start.

9. Get certified. No, it’s not necessary, and I know some phenomenal writers who aren’t. But it helps to get your foot in the door, gives you more options, especially during school breaks when jobs are scarce, and covers you if employers ever decide to start requiring it. As a bonus, someone usually wants to throw you a party.

10. Build your dictionary like crazy and know it well. I know reporters who started taking depositions with fewer than 20,000 entries, but I don’t think that would work in CART. That being said, prefixes and suffixes are imperative and allow you to create significantly more words than entries, so it’s not as hard as it may seem to have a functional dictionary. I practice to anything I can get my hands on: newspapers, books, magazines, podcasts, my little sister’s textbooks, and lists of names. This will help you get used to writing unfamiliar words. You know what I’ve never written on the job? “Beyond a reasonable doubt.” You know what I have written? “Ethylenediaminetetraacetate.”

 

Christine Ahn is a court reporting student in Santa Monica, Calif. She can be reached at christineahn1@gmail.com.

E-seminar review: Brief addiction, part 2

Brief Addiction Part 2: Unbox Your Brain

Presented by Kathy Zebert, RPR

 

Freelance court reporter and Stenedge owner, Kathy Zebert, RPR, shares great briefing tips in her follow-up e-seminar, Brief Addiction Part 2: Unbox Your Brain. In Brief Addiction, Part 1, Zebert discusses how creating briefs can save time and money, as well as how it can benefit a court reporter’s health. In Part 2, Zebert shares how court reporters can come up with their own briefs and how to break away from the theory learned in school.  For Zebert, a brief is one stroke. But she states court reporters need to work with what they have: “If [the strokes] start at eight and you get it down to two or three strokes, then that’s still a brief.” In her e-seminar, Zebert also talks about working in blocks of words and phrases and how court reporters don’t need to use vowels when making briefs. She offers memorization tips and says developing briefs becomes second nature once immersed in creating them. Join Zebert as she offers great examples and gets court reporters to think outside the box in the world of briefing. This e-seminar is now available in NCRA’s online collection of e-seminar.

NCRA Convention & Expo: Conference Sessions

Seminar_AttendeesEDUCATION OF GREAT IMPORTANCE TO COURT REPORTERS

For many reporters, NCRA’s Convention & Expo is not only a great way to catch up with colleagues but the premier opportunity to learn new skills and track emerging trends in the profession. Attendees at this year’s event experienced a jam-packed educational schedule that not only covered a wide range of topics but also delivered the information in various styles and with best-in-class presenters. In addition to the sessions highlighted below, convention attendees also had the opportunity to learn about Cloud storage, wireless set-ups, punctuation, stadium captioning, and much more.

THE INTERNET IS A CAPTIONER’S BEST FRIEND

Attendees explored the value of the Internet and how best to leverage its unlimited resources at this interactive session led by seasoned court reporter, captioner, and CART provider Alan Peacock from Mobile, Ala. Participants were encouraged to join the conversation and tweet their ideas before, during, and after the session, as they explored the endless search sites available online, including YouTube, news sites, and specialized sites that can accurately identify an unfamiliar term, song lyrics, and even the correct pronunciation of the name of a public figure such as a politician or an athlete. Attendees also learned how to setup a wireless hotspot to ensure quick access to the Internet no matter where they’re working.

A FUTURIST LOOKS AT THE FREELANCER

Changes in economic conditions, the advancement of technology, and evolving trends that are often viewed as threats just as often lead to opportunities, according to Adam D. Miller, RPR, CRI, CLVS, a freelance court reporter who has worked for a decade in Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del. In his presentation, “A Futurist Looks at the Freelancer,” Miller provided several examples of changing times once perceived as threats, such as the launch of the Internet, that have ultimately created opportunities for the court reporting profession. Once feared, the Internet is now relied on instead of a telephone book, a dictionary, and other once-popular resources. In addition, the Internet has led to court reporters being able to stream live video and audio and conduct deposition work where parties are no longer required to be in the same location. A current threat to the court reporting profession is the declining number of public sector jobs, warned Miller. But he advised attendees to seize the opportunity in the threat and work to identify new areas to which they can bring their unique skills as freelance reporters.

SEARCH DOGS

SearchDogs

What does a court reporter have in common with a search dog? “A nose for truth, acute hearing, and swift paws. No bones about it,” said Chris Bergquist of the Sacramento Fire Department. The Search Dog Foundation, based in southern California, takes in difficult-to-place stray dogs and trains them to find live human survivors of catastrophic events. During their presentation, search dogs Elvis and Kari demonstrated some of their techniques by finding a child hidden in a tube and climbing along difficult surfaces. “They know it’s real life; they know it’s serious. The dog will not quit,” said Elvis’ handler, Chet Clark of the Oklahoma Task Force 1 team. The search dogs provided the demonstration at NCRA’s convention in honor of Atlanta court reporter Julie Brandau, who was shot and killed in her own courtroom. In her memory, the Julie Brandau Community Service Memorial Project partnered with the Search Dog Foundation because of Julie’s life-long love of dogs. To date, the project has raised more than $80,000 for the Search Dog Foundation.

TEACHING AND MENTORING: THE KEYS TO THE FUTURE OF THE PROFESSION

A panel of educators and NCRA board members led a lively discussion of how individual court reporters can do their part to help attract, retain, and train court reporting students to ensure the profession remains healthy and viable. Nativa P. Wood, RDR, CMRS, an NCRA board member and official court reporter with the Dauphin County Court of Common Please, Harrisburg, Pa., provided an overview of the work of NCRA’s Vision for Educational Excellence Task Force. Its goal is to help invigorate and promote the court reporting profession. In addition, NCRA Vice President Glyn Poage, RDR, CRR, a court reporter from Helotes, Texas, noted that court reporting students view working court reporters as walking success stories and offered a number of suggestions on how NCRA members can better support court reporting schools and students. Also on the panel were Kay Moody, CRI, MCRI, CPE, director of education for the College of Court Reporting, who offered insights into recruiting and training tomorrow’s court reporting professionals, and Jeff Moody, CRI, president of the College of Court Reporting, who explained the certification process at the state and national levels, as well as NCRA certifications.

BRINGING CART TO YOUR COMMUNITY

With the help of local closed captioner and CART provider Karyn D. Menck, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, the Hearing Loss Association of America Nashville Chapter has successfully brought CART and captioning technology to a variety of community sites including live theater, leisure and recreational activities, educational events, and religious venues. Menck, owner of Nashville-based Tennessee Captioning, and Kate Driskill Kanies, president of the HLAA Nashville Chapter and state coordinator for Tennessee, shared their experiences with an ongoing promotion of captioning services, as well as tips on how to launch a similar effort at the local level. The speakers also explored with attendees how to obtain grant funding for equipment and software to provide the services, and how to create a successful blueprint that will lead local venues to collaborate with captioners and CART providers on a onetime, free trial basis, to help determine if such services are needed.

SECURING THE COURT: SAFETY TIPS FOR OFFICIAL COURT REPORTERS

In recent years, the U.S. Marshals Service has seen an increase in violence in courthouses. In a presentation designed to educate court reporters and members of the court family about safety and security, John Shell, senior inspector for the U.S. Marshals Service, provided attendees with valuable tips and best security practices, such as coping in an active shooter situation, recognizing an active shooter in the vicinity, and following evacuation plans. In addition, Shell gave his insights into best practices for responding to law officials when they arrive at a the scene of a shooting, training tips for keeping staff safe in violent situations, and precautions to take to help to prevent violent crime from happening in a courthouse.

BEST PRACTICES FOR CAPTIONING QUALITY

An interactive panel that included Carol Studenmund, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, Amy Bowlen, RDR, CRR, CBC, Darlene Parker, RPR, and NCRA’s Assistant Director of Government Relations Adam Finkel led a discussion on the issues behind providing the captioning services that allow all individuals to have access to news broadcasts, sporting events, entertainment, and other television programming. Frequently cited was “Captioning Matters: Best Practices,” a working document that outlines NCRA proposals to ensure that broadcast captioners, captioning companies, and video programming distributors are providing the most accurate, understandable, and timely captions for the end user. The best practices project specifi cally covers live, realtime captions rather than captions created in the post-production phase of video production. Currently, postproduction captions are expected to be 100 percent accurate with no exceptions. However, for live realtime or near-realtime captions, 100 percent accuracy is not a reasonable expectation. According to the panel, in October 2010, the Federal Communications Commission found that 70 percent of all complaints regarding captioning involved transmission errors. Despite the need to address these errors and how they unfairly affect accuracy rates, the panel encouraged captioners to hold themselves accountable to provide the most complete, factual, and accurate captions possible.

BRIEFING ON THE FLY FOR FASTER WRITING

Kimi George, RMR, a freelance reporter specializing in medical malpractice depositions, and author of the book Flip Over Briefs, encouraged audience participation in a session that examined the differences between left brain and right brain and asked whether court reporters are more right or left brain dominated. George told attendees that she believes reporters use both sides of their brain because they use their critical thinking (left side of the brain) to determine that they need a brief, followed by their creative thinking (right side of the brain) to create a shorter outline or a brief. Some reporters are better at briefi ng than others, according to George, because they have successfully trained their brains to create new outlines quickly. Because the brain is a muscle, George told the audience that they too could enhance their skills by training their brains and offered tips and strategies for creating new outlines faster, including practicing consistency in briefs, making main briefs the same every time before adding endings, and keeping things simple. She also suggested leaving out vowels and provided additional tips for writing medial briefs.

Featured seminars from the NCRA 2013 Convention & Expo in Nashville are available at NCRA.org/eseminars. Search in the “2013 Convention Nashville” category for more information.

Captioning corner: Lessons learned from a captioning fail

In this age of social media, it doesn’t take long for a captioning blooper to be tweeted, Facebooked, or turned into a viral video, much to the chagrin of the individual reporter and broadcast captioner community at large. We’ve all been there, done that, wished we could crawl into the ground and disappear.

However, if we do not think about our bloopers as learning experiences, we are all at risk of them happening again. We, as a community, should take the necessary steps to avoid making mistakes and, when they do happen, know what to do to mitigate the errors as much as possible.

As a new captioner, I misstroked a brief during a basketball game and a celebrity name popped up instead of a player. I was mortified. But because of that experience, I can count on one hand how many times it happened again. I worked really hard to keep my briefs organized and took great care and put much thought into creating safe briefs and figuring out ways to write names out whenever possible, saving briefs for times when I really needed them.

Yes, captioning is a hard job sometimes. The speakers can go fast, and you can’t slow them down as you would if you were working with them in person. Yes, too many people don’t understand that captions are created by real people, not computers, much less the process that every single word must go through to get from the speaker’s mouth through our ears, brain, and fingers, and then to our computers, the modem, and back onto the television broadcast stream.

But before we educate the public, we need to first put our money where our mouths are. I’m not just speaking to individual captioners. I also direct this to every captioning company: How many of us have the CBC? How many of us have the RMR? And what about the RPR?

To cite one example that is outside of our industry, let’s look at news reporting. During the Boston marathon bombings in April, news reporters were trying to get information out fast (just like we do). But when one of CNN’s reporters covering the marathon incident said someone had been arrested and identified the suspect as a dark-skinned male, he made a mistake. And guess what? His mistake became news. Why? Because we expect CNN to get it right, and they have a responsibility to get it right. I’m sure he and everyone else behind the mistake were mortified. I’m sure his colleagues all said, “Been there, done that.” But I’d bet you any amount of money the higher-ups at CNN didn’t care about the circumstances surrounding that mistake. I’m sure they didn’t coddle the reporter and tell him not to worry about it.

So please, I beg of you, don’t miss this wake-up call. Comb through your dictionaries for old briefs, and create job-specific dictionaries if you haven’t already. Analyze how you brief, and seek help if you need a better system. Captioning companies, even the little guys, should demand certifications, and they should test captioners, not only before hiring them, but periodically throughout their employment to ensure high quality.

If you’re at a loss as to where to start, here are three places I suggest you begin: Your prefixes, suffixes, and word roots; your briefs and phrases; and your dictionary as a whole.

Use prefixes, suffixes, and word roots

The goal of every captioner should be to strive for clean, accurate captions and to be secure in the knowledge that your dictionary and writing style will back you up. To achieve 99 percent accuracy or better, a good place to start is to examine your steno theory and modify it so that each and every stroke is uniquely defined. In other words, avoid using a single stroke in multiple circumstances. For example, if the stroke PWAOEU is defined as BUY, then avoid using that stroke as a prefix or suffix. Create a unique stroke to use in those situations. Likewise, the stroke OR should never be used as anything but the word OR. Adopting this philosophy will greatly reduce the risk for word-boundary issues. Note: You may use a stroke as a prefix as long as the next stroke is a clear suffix but do not define the first stroke as a prefix.

Prefixes and suffixes play an enormous role in captioning. One of the first steps of transitioning from court reporter to realtime writer and/or captioner is distinguishing between prefixes and suffixes. Although you may encounter a few word boundary problems while court reporting, they seem to be ever-present in captioning unless the necessary changes are made to your writing. One of the first word-boundary problems I encountered while on the air, unfortunately, was POP ICONS, which translated as POPEYE CONS. I used AOEU for both prefixes and suffixes and thought if I globaled the stroke with another stroke, all would be fine. Obviously, that is one of the great misconceptions of realtime writing. You can’t simply global your way out of any situation. Captioning (and realtime in general) is really about writing your way out of any situation, using prefixes, root words, suffixes, and special characters like the delete space and space functions as well as fingerspelling.

Limit briefs and phrases

Achieving the necessary accuracy rate can also mean limiting the use of briefs and phrases. For example, instead of SERT for CERTIFICATE, either write it out or insert an asterisk into the original stroke or modify the stroke to something safer, like SOEURT. The asterisk, while foreign to many court reporters, can be a valuable tool in realtime. If you find it awkward to stroke the asterisk within another stroke, use the “half tap” method. To use the same example, stroke SERT and, while holding down the keys, simply reach over with your index finger to the asterisk key and press it down. After some practice, it will come more naturally, but for some strokes, the index finger just isn’t available and the half tap comes in handy. The primary reason to write out briefs and phrases is to avoid them appearing in a multi-stroke word if that word is either not in your dictionary or one of the strokes is misstroked. TETRACYCLINE could translate as AT THE TIME RA PSYCH LEAN. A much cleaner mistake would be TETRA PSYCHLINE (because I used my RA suffix and LINE suffix).

There is much controversy swirling around in the field about briefs. Some believe briefing as much as possible will increase your speed. While I will not dispute that general premise on its face, I would argue that briefing as much as possible will not increase your accuracy as a captioner. If you strive to write at an accuracy of 99 percent or better every day on any type of programming, it is my opinion (and the opinion of those who trained me) that a solid realtime theory devised of prefixes, suffixes, and root words is the best approach to consistent, accurate captions. I strongly believe you must first be capable of writing anything and everything without relying on briefs, artificial intelligence, or any other shortcut that may be invented in the next century. Once that happens, then briefs and some basic intelligence can be used as a tool, not as a crutch. The question is — and this has happened to me — what happens if you load the wrong job dictionary for a show? You write the brief that contains the show’s title in quotes. It does not translate. Before you can load the dictionary at the first commercial break, you must get through the first segment; i.e., writing out the title surrounded by quotation marks as well as any other show-related briefs. If you never mastered doing that, simply creating a brief every time at the first sign of difficulty, then you will surely run into trouble.

Here’s another example of something that has actually happened to me. I was captioning a dog competition, and a dog jumped off the dock at 21 feet 9 inches, which should appear as 21’ 9”. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to me, my CAT software’s intelligence was only designed for single digits in the “feet” portion of the figure. So what translated was 2’ 19”. I quickly had to improvise and chose to write 21 feet 9 inches the next several times. If I had been really slick, I would have written 21, my stroke for single apostrophe, 9, end quote. Now, that’s the work of a truly talented captioner. If it happens again, I’ll be ready for it.

Know your dictionary

Changing your writing is only half the battle. It is imperative that you remember how you changed your writing. Make use of sticky notes or cheat sheets anywhere and everywhere until you have memorized the new theory. Review transcripts and steno notes often for errors, and keep lists of problem areas. Purge your dictionary of word-global entries. For example, if you have the word-global entry MARTIAL ARTS with the steno PHAR/SHA*UL, which you have defined alone as MARSHALL, create a new and unique way to write MARTIAL, like PHAR/SH*EUL, and delete the word-global (crutch) entry. Practice writing sentences with the different versions of MARSHALL in them, including MARSHAL (which I write PHAR/SHA*L). Before you know it, you will “hear” MARTIAL instead of MARSHALL. It helps to visualize it. One of the ways I remember MARSHAL is having seen it on the back of Tommy Lee Jones’ character in The Fugitive. Jones played a “U.S. MARSHAL.” Whenever I hear FIRE MARSHAL, U.S. MARSHAL, and so forth, I see that actor running to some big emergency.

Member Profile: 10 things you don’t know about me

Lisa Schwarze, RPRName: Lisa Schwarze, RPR

Specialty: Owner of Sworn Testimony, PLLC, and Game Day Captions

Resides in: Lexington, Ky.

NCRA member since: 2005

Graduated from: Madison Business College in Madison, Wis.

Theory: StenEd

  1. I have kayaked in the Atlantic Ocean.
  2. I have a Russian tortoise as a pet.
  3. I have milked a cow.
  4. I was kicked out of typing class in high school because I typed too fast.
  5. I watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation every year on Thanksgiving Day.
  6. I am a Cheesehead. Go Packers!
  7. I have two first-place medals as a bicyclist in racing competitions.
  8. I have crossed the Mackinac Bridge, the third longest suspension bridge in the world.
  9. I have backpacked through Belgium and the Netherlands.
  10. As a child, I took piano lessons for years but couldn’t play chopsticks today.

Schwarze’s favorite briefs

My favorite briefs are contractions — AO*EU-L (I’ll), AOEU-L (I will); AO*U-L (you’ll), AOU-L (you will); AO*EUPL (I’m), AOEUPL (I am). You get the picture.

I am also crazy about the wide DZ key, eliminating lots of second strokes for a plural ending as well as an -ed ending. For in-stadium captioning, I like *UBL for “University of Kentucky.”

Q&A

Why did you decide to become a court reporter?

During my first week in high school typing class, I was kicked out for typing too fast. My instructor asked if I would help her with “extra” activities in the classroom and opt out of testing in fairness to the others. Oh, and would you join the Future Business Leaders of America team to compete in typing competitions? It so happened that I was also taking a Gregg shorthand class. So I jumped on a bus with the other FBLA students and traveled to Green Bay for a competition in both written shorthand and typing. I had a first place medal in both by the end of the day, and it was effortless.

Honestly, the hard “work” was far beforehand and did not make me a happy youngster. Beginning at the age of 8, I took piano lessons at my mom’s insistence. Without hesitation, I can tell you piano lessons were every Saturday at noon — at the same time as kickball with the neighborhood kids. Needless to say, I was reluctant to go.

My Diamante is my piano now, nothing more and nothing less. Mom gets the credit for my piano skills. One of the FBLA leaders pointed out to me court reporting as being a profession that would combine both these skills. I enjoyed both, and so I pursued court reporting.

Do you have a favorite gadget? If so, what it is, and why do you like it?

I love technology. My favorite gadget, which has come in extremely handy, is an iPhone app, TurboScan. This app allows you to scan in a document by taking a picture of it, e.g., original exhibits the attorney wants to retain, and sends a PDF of the document to your email. Handy, handy, handy.

What are you most proud of in your career? Can you tell us what that experience was like?

I am most proud of being a CART provider and developing a remote CART program. CART squeezes my heart bigtime. Four years ago I got a call from the University of Kentucky to provide CART for a student coming on board as a freshman. I jumped at the opportunity, although I had lots of fears, including where to park on campus. In a sea of undergraduate students, I found the student I was captioning for and captioned a class in an auditorium-seated room with cables from my steno machine to my computer to, ultimately, Alex’s computer. At the end of class, Alex came to me and said, “Thank you so much. I had no idea how much I wasn’t hearing. This helps me so much.”

Realizing that a freshman in college does not need me plugging cables into his computer every day, I spent endless hours with an IT professional to develop a remote CART program. Within a month, Alex was without cables, although I was still in the classroom. By the end of three months, there was no captioner in the room and we were providing CART with no cables.

Our remote captioning program today is seamless and amazing. I have captioned conferences taking place in Puerto Rico from my home in Lexington. In this instance, my audio feed included the “client” showing others at the conference how he could “hear.” When he cried, so did I. Last semester we had eight students receiving captions from captioners all across the United States. The experience cannot be put in words. CART squeezes your heart, period.