NCRA member discusses broadcast captioning in radio interview

The Takeaway interviewed NCRA member Amy Bowlen, RDR, CRR, CRC, a broadcast captioner from Imperial, Pa., and manager of training at VITAC, on March 3 about her captioning the recent GOP debates. Bowlen is also chair of NCRA’s Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters.

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Captioning the Super Bowl

final punt of Super Bowl 50

Photo by: Steve Jurvetson

For most people, the only stress associated with the Super Bowl is whether their team wins or loses. However, for Paula Arispe, RPR, Octavia Brandenburg, and Stefani Tkacs – all captioners with the National Captioning Institute – the Super Bowl provided them an opportunity to showcase their captioning skills.

“Despite the anxiety of knowing that it’s a huge event and that everything needs to go as perfectly as possible, both connection-wise and in translation, it’s very exciting and an honor to caption such a high-profile event,” said Brandenburg, a sentiment that Arispe and Tkacs shared. The three captioners researched the team rosters ahead of time, along with names of coaches, announcers, etc. They also received prep work from CBS.

“We were given a rundown of each show that was going to be that day. We didn’t know who was going to be interviewed during the shows, so it was pretty much on the fly. And they were jumping around to a bunch of different announcers that we normally don’t have so that was a little nerve racking at first until you figured out who they were,” said Arispe. She and Tkacs traded one- to two-hour shifts captioning the pre-game material into the beginning of the game, covering eight hours of programming altogether. Brandenburg then took over for the remainder of the game through the end of the postgame show.

Arispe also recognized the technical support that the captioners received. “Our organization for the whole day could not have been made smoother if it wasn’t for the hard work of all our engineers involved. The encoders were different for a few of the shows, and we only had a couple of minutes to disconnect from one to connect to the other,” she said.

All three captioners have had experience covering football games and talk shows – this was Brandenburg’s fourth time captioning the Super Bowl – so they were familiar with many of the names, the terminology, and the issues that come up in commentary. They also all have experience captioning other sporting events as well as other high-profile events.

“I have had the privilege of captioning March Madness, and I will tell you that is so much harder because you have to have all the teams in that are part of it,” said Arispe (she also was one of the captioners who covered Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S.).

“I used to caption the pay-per-view wrestling main event shows, but it’s not as widely viewed as the Super Bowl. However, the pay-per-views were commercial-free and the Super Bowl day had commercials. That’s a much-needed break. For the commercial-free pay-per-view, we would write for 15-20 minutes and switch off,” said Tkacs.

“I’ve done NCAA championships, both football and basketball, Academy Awards-related programming, and nationally televised fundraising shows, such as Stand Up To Cancer. I feel like awards shows require more tedious prep because they’re obviously more scripted and names of all nominees and movies have to be captioned (not to mention fashion designers),” said Brandenburg.

But captioning the Super Bowl isn’t all work – it’s a fun and rewarding assignment too.

“Football is my favorite sport, so I was super excited that I could be part of the Super Bowl and able to make sure that everyone else had the opportunity to enjoy it as well,” said Arispe. “Oh, and captioning Lady Gaga’s rendition of our National Anthem was pretty cool as well!”

“My favorite thing about captioning the Super Bowl is to be able to watch it (since I’m a big sports fan) while also hopefully contributing to its enjoyable viewing by the audience who is hard of hearing and also those who watch in public venues,” said Brandenburg.

“I doubt anyone would ever imagine captions for the Super Bowl event takes place in Dallas, Texas, when the show is in Santa Clara, California. That is pretty remarkable,” said Tkacs. “Although it was high pressure and nerve-racking, I had a great time captioning the Super Bowl, and my family and friends are always in awe of what I do.”

Broadcasting Accessibility Fund announces project grant

On Jan. 26, the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund announced that it will award $723,500 in grants to seven innovative projects designed to advance accessibility to broadcasting content for Canadians with disabilities, according to an article posted the same day by Broadcaster magazine.

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NCRA Board of Directors approves ethical guidelines for CART and broadcast captioners

During the November Board Meeting, the NCRA Board of Directors officially approved the NCRA Code of Professional Ethics for CART and Broadcast Captioners. The code of ethics will be implemented next year, but members may use them as guidelines immediately.

The code of ethics provides information on the role and responsibilities of both CART and broadcast captioners for a variety of on-site and remote settings, including educational, legal, medical, and entertainment. A task force of 14 captioners, consumers, and interpreters spent the last year developing and refining the code of ethics.

“As the world of CART and Broadcast Captioning has evolved, there were unique situations coming up daily that the traditional court reporting COPE guidelines did not address and were never anticipated. By bringing together a group of captioners, consumers, and sign language interpreters, the committee was able to create the new COPE guidelines addressing the ever-evolving and specific issues surrounding communication access,” said Linda Hershey, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, a broadcast captioner from Chattanooga, Tenn., who co-chaired the task force.

For more information about the NCRA Code of Professional Ethics for CART and Broadcast Captioners, please contact Adam Finkel, NCRA’s Director of Government Relations, at afinkel@ncra.org.

Read the full document.

Keeping up with FCC closed caption requirements

A guest blog posted on Nov. 19 by Broadcasting & Cable addresses the recent closed captioning requirements for broadcasters and cable operators issued by the Federal Communications Commission. Author Steve Homes, a senior video applications engineer at Tektronix, shares key steps in ensuring compliance with the criteria related to the new requirements.

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NCRA represents captioners at FCC meeting

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Carol Studenmund and Heather York on the FCC panel

On Nov. 10, the Federal Communications Commission hosted a roundtable on closed captioning of PEG programming. PEG stands for public, educational, and governmental television channels. Carol Studenmund, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, a broadcast captioner and president of LNS Captioning in Portland, Ore., was in attendance representing the interests of broadcast captioners, along with Heather York, vice president of marketing at VITAC.

The roundtable discussion focused on captioning standards and best practices for PEG providers, as well as the importance of both quality captioning and captioners. Participants also discussed creative strategies to get local captioning covered by larger government entities. Many PEG stations cover public content such as city council meetings and operate on a smaller scale. Educational content, however, also needs to be captioned to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Carol Studenmund and Mary Beth Henry from the Office of Community Technology for the City of Portland

“It was an honor to represent NCRA at the FCC to talk about captioning for local government programming,” said Studenmund. “Providing access to government at all levels is a vital service for our community. All people, regardless of disabilities, deserve to be able to participate in their government affairs. Captioning helps make that happen for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.”

The agenda for the roundtable is available on the FCC website.

EEG launches Web-streaming caption encoder

A press release posted on Oct. 19 by TVTechnology announced that EEG has launched the Falcon Web-Streaming Caption Encoder, a virtual caption encoder that offers captioning capabilities for live online content. The service connects live content producers with transcriptionists.

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NCRA member shares experiences with DMACC students

The Newton Daily News, Newton, Iowa, posted an article on Oct. 2 about NCRA member Toni Christy, RPR, CRR, CBC, CCP, a broadcast captioner who recently spoke with students enrolled in Des Moines Area Community College’s court reporting program. Christy’s captioning skills were singled out by Wisconsin men’s basketball player Nigel Hayes during a press conference at the NCAA tournament games last March.

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NCRA President responds to editorial calling closed captioning “often fiction”

NCRA President Sarah E. Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CBC, responded to an editorial that appeared June 20 on Ohio.com, and written by Akron Beacon Journal columnist Bob Dyer, which is critical of the quality of captioning provided by local television stations in the area. In her response, Nageotte notes the process involved in captioning, including the technology used and NCRA’s work with the FCC addressing issues surrounding quality captioning.

Read President Nageotte’s response.

Read the article.

Stenographer captures hearts of players and America during NCAA tournament

ESPNW.Today posted an interview on March 27 with NCRA member Toni Christy, RPR, CRR, CBC, CCP, a broadcast captioner from La Mesa, Calif. Christy became an overnight viral sensation last week during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament she was covering, thanks to the curiosity of Nigel Hayes and a couple of other Wisconsin men’s basketball players who thrust her and her profession into the national spotlight.

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