Hear from a veteran captioner why earning your CRC is important

The JCR Weekly reached out to NCRA member Carol Studenmund, RDR, CRR, CRC, Chair of NCRA’s Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) Committee, a broadcast captioner from Portland, Ore., to talk about why captioners should consider earning the CRC.

Tell us a little about your background. How did you get involved in the captioning profession?

Our company, LNS Court Reporting is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month! We expanded into the captioning world back in 1992. It was a natural progression for our business. My first big gig was helping to caption a regional conference of Self-Help for Hard-of-Hearing People here in Portland, where I met NCRA member Deanna Baker, RMR, a broadcast captioner from Flagstaff, Ariz.

Who would you say would benefit most by earning the CRC in this profession?

Our company is seeing more and more contract opportunities that specifically ask for proof of our captioners having the CRC. We only schedule captioners with the CRC for court work we caption in our state. We work both on-site and remotely for our court system. All of that adds up to the fact that we need more captioners who have the CRC.

Do you see an increase in the demand for certified captioners in the near future and if so, why?

More and more contract opportunities will have this requirement. Our potential clients know there is a wide variety in caption quality. They can’t afford to spend their tight public money on services that are not provided by a qualified captioner.

How has earning the CRC helped you professionally?

I earned my CRR back in 1993. I took the Written Knowledge Tests for the Certified Broadcast Captioner and Certified CART Provider in 2009. [Members who held the CBC and/or CCP before Jan. 1, 2016, were automatically transitioned to holding the CRC.] Certifications always give the person who earns them confidence in his or her skills. I haven’t looked for a job in 30 years, but I have hired many people in that time. And when I see a certification, I know a good deal about the captioner’s capabilities right off the bat. And maintaining my certifications has led to me knowing captioners and court reporters across the country, and exposed me to the latest trends and technology for our professions.

What do you advise someone considering earning the CRC to encourage them to do so?

Get busy! This certification has three legs: the Written Knowledge Test, the Skills Test, and a Workshop. They’re all essential to the certification program. Our captioning profession has grown for more than three decades. And during that time, we’ve gone from a community of pioneers, who truly did make it up as they went, to a profession that is depended upon by millions of people all over our country. Our consumers want a way to know they are working with a qualified service provider.

Are you eligible for the CRC exception? Learn more here.

Are you eligible for the CRC exception?

Candidates who passed the Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) test prior to November 2011 are eligible to earn the Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) upon successful completion of the CRC Workshop and Written Knowledge Test. These candidates are not required to take the Skills Test to earn the CRC under a recent exception approved by NCRA’s Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters (CAPR) that recognizes the Skills Test requirement of the CRR certification as equivalent.

Note: The exception to use the CRR Skills Test history towards earning the CRC expires Dec. 31. Any CRC candidate who has not fully earned the certification by that date will be required to pass the CRC Skills Test, regardless of prior testing history.

CAPR’s recent action to exclude the Skills Test requirement for the CRC for candidates who earned the CRR prior to November 2011 was based on the findings that prior to November 2011, the Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC), the Certified Captioning Provider (CCP), and the CRR Skills Tests were the same: five minutes of literary matter at 180 wpm.

Anyone who passed the CRR during or after November 2011 will need to take the CRC Skills Test, the CRC Workshop, and pass the Written Knowledge Test to become certified.

The requirements to earn the CRC are the successful completion of:

  • CRC Workshop — either in person in August at the NCRA Convention & Expo or online through NCRA’s e-seminar catalogue
  • CRC Written Knowledge Test — offered in April, with registration open March 1-31, on-site in August at the NCRA Convention & Expo, or in October with registration open Sept. 1-30
  • CRC Skills Test — unless using the CRR exception by Dec. 31

Candidates wishing to use the exception for the CRC Skills Test must successfully complete the CRC Workshop and the CRC Written Knowledge Test. Candidates must then notify testing@ncra.org upon successful completion of the Workshop and Written Knowledge Test in order to reflect their CRC status. Only current members in good standing can hold the CRC status.

Hear from a veteran captioner why earning your CRC is important.

For more information, contact testing@ncra.org.

Mark your calendars with learning opportunities through NCRA

calendar

Photo by Dafne Cholet

Make your plan to earn CEUs and tackle your educational needs this year. Whether you are working toward earning your RPR or your cycle ends Jan. 31 or Sept. 30, NCRA can help you get ahead.

In addition, NCRA members can earn CEUs by passing the skills or written portion of certain tests, such as the RMR, RDR, CRR, or CLVS exams.

Here is a short selection of dates and events (dates are subject to change).

Jan. 31 — 9/30/16 cycle extension deadline

Feb. 12-14 — 2017 Firm Owners Executive Conference, Tucson, Ariz.

March 1-31 — Registration period for April RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS Written Knowledge Tests

April 5 — Second quarter online skills test registration opens

April 8-20 — RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS Written Knowledge Test dates

June 1-30 — Registration period for July RPR and CLVS Written Knowledge Tests

July 5 — Third quarter online skills test registration opens

July 8-20 — RPR and CLVS Written Knowledge Test dates

Aug. 10-13 — 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo, Las Vegas, Nev.

Sept. 1-30 — Registration period for October RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS Written Knowledge Tests

Sept. 30 — Submission deadline for CEUs and PDCs for members with a 9/30/17 cycle ending

Oct. 5 — Fourth quarter online skills test registration opens

Oct. 7-19 — RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS Written Knowledge Tests

Court Reporting & Captioning Week (Feb. 11-18), Memorial Day (May 30), and Veterans Day (Nov. 11) are also all good opportunities to schedule Veterans History Project Days to earn PDCs. And don’t forget that online skills testing is available year round.

In addition, NCRA is planning webinars throughout the year, which will be announced in the JCR Weekly and on the NCRA Facebook and Twitter pages as they are available. Watch for more information in the JCR, in the JCR Weekly, and on TheJCR.com for registration, deadlines, and other ideas to earn continuing education.

Testing where and when you want cited as a huge benefit of online testing

testing-tips-lightbulbThe many benefits of NCRA’s online testing program include a user-friendly and secure system, more testing opportunities annually, faster results, and greater affordability. However, users of the system continue to report that the freedom and convenience of being able to test in a location of their choosing, including at home or in the office, continues to rank as one of the biggest factors for success.

The program, which is a partnership between NCRA, Realtime Coach, and ProctorU, was launched in August 2015 and offers online skills testing platforms for candidates of the RPR, RMR, CRR, and CRC certifications. Since then, more than 2,300 tests have been taken online.

“This was my first online testing experience, and I was able to pass the last leg of the RPR that I needed to become certified, so I’d say it was a pretty great experience. I like the online testing much better than having to go to a brick-and-mortar testing site. I did not like having to wake up very early in the morning to make it to the testing site and having to bring all of my equipment. Less anxiety testing from home in that regard,” said Christina E. Sarisky, RPR, a freelance reporter from Rutherford, N.J.

Brittany Blesener, RPR, an official court reporter from Chaska, Minn., agrees that the best benefit to online testing is “taking it at your own time, one leg at a time, instead of having a set date.”

First-time online test-taker Megan Orris, RPR, an official court reporter from Middleburg, Penn., said she personally likes the online testing for the skills portion of certification because it makes things go quickly and, rather than the six to eight weeks it takes to receive official results from a brick-and-mortar site, online official results are emailed within three to seven days.

“I think people can get nervous over having to wait a period of time to know whether they passed or failed a test,” she noted.

For candidates preparing to take any of the NCRA online skills tests, veteran test-takers and Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE, national marketing manager for Realtime Coach, agree that practicing is also an important factor for ensuring success.

NCRA recently made available on its YouTube channel a series of nine online testing instructional videos created by Realtime Coach that cover the entire process from a basic orientation to scheduling the actual test. The short videos were designed to provide candidates with an easy-to-use resource for prepping.

“Online testing instructional videos were created, so candidates can quickly and easily refresh their recollection of a step or two of the testing process, or replay a step multiple times if needed,” said Everhart. ”With testing instructions now available in print and video formats, candidates can select the format that best suits their needs.”

Additional security measures required by the online system include candidates signing a mandatory confidentiality form that indicates that the subject and words of the test will not be disclosed to other candidates and proctors that are connected to candidates in real time, with live audio and video connections that include a view and live feed of the candidate’s monitor through screen-sharing technology. Candidates are also required to use an external webcam to show that their workspace is secure by giving a 360-degree pan of the entire room and desk or workspace.

Under the online system, NCRA allows candidates to take up to three skills test attempts in each quarter. For information visit NCRA’s online skills testing page.

Top 15 tips to master online testing

testing-tips-lightbulbBy Marybeth Everhart

  1. Review the Detailed Instructions found on myRealtimeCoach.com and NCRA.org/testing.
  2. Practice the testing process. We all tend to practice just the steno portion of an exam. It won’t matter how good a writer you are if you cannot complete the test online!
  3. Send an email to yourself and attach a steno note file. You’ll need to attach a steno note file when testing, and the process of navigating to those files on your computer is the same. Practice it until you can do it in your sleep!
  4. Send an email to yourself and attach a transcript file from your CAT software. The process is the same as attaching a transcript during testing.
  5. Don’t make this harder than it is. You don’t need to make a PDF or RTF or any other non-CAT format, but you do need to know where to find your files and what to look for.
  6. Know how to copy and paste your transcript from your CAT software. Read the section of the Detailed Instructions about your software so you’re comfortable with it, and practice, practice, practice.
  7. Use the free practice tests on myRealtimeCoach.com to practice the testing procedure! The practicing process is identical to the testing procedure. The more comfortable you are, the less nervous you’ll be for the actual test.
  8. Use the same equipment to test that you practice on. Test day is not the time to introduce something new.
  9. Take at least one proctored practice. Two free proctored practices are included with your test registration, so use them.
  10. Don’t install anything new or download any updates between your proctored practice and your actual test.
  11. Practice, take a proctored test, and take your test in the same location. Don’t take your proctored practice at the office and test at home!
  12. Test at approximately the same day and time as your proctored practice. Your Internet speed may fluctuate throughout the day, so be sure it’s sufficient at the time you plan to test.
  13. Practice with your headphones on! That’s how you’ll be taking the test.
  14. Analyze your practice performance. Remember, practice makes permanent, not necessarily perfect! Identify your common weaknesses and resolve them! If using myRealtimeCoach, pay attention to the Focused Feedback and remember to stop, look, and change what needs to be fixed.
  15. Ready, begin: Two words, four syllables, ten letters. Don’t let these words be your undoing on test day. Every practice session should begin with that phrase, followed by a few short, sweet, and simple words of encouragement.

Watch a series of short videos with step-by-step instructions for completing an online skills test on NCRA’s YouTube channel.

Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE, is the national marketing manager at RealtimeCoach, a realtime trainer, and former court reporter. She can be reached at meverhart@learnrealtime.com.

 

NCRA’s CLVS Council plans launch of online seminar content

VideographyBy Natalie Dippenaar

In conjunction with the Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS) Fall Event, held at the NCRA offices in Reston, Va., NCRA’s CLVS Council launched an exciting and long-planned project. Rather than offering training to prospective CLVS candidates, NCRA and the council members opted to spend the weekend capturing the contents of the seminar with the goal of bringing the majority of the three-day program online. Typically, the CLVS Council travels two or three times a year to offer the three-day seminar and production exam testing required for the CLVS certification.

With this in mind, the National Court Reporters Foundation offered space in NCRA headquarters as a production studio. Brian Clune, CLVS; Jason Levin, CLVS; Gene Betler, Jr., CLVS; and Bruce Balmer, CLVS, presented and captured topics as diverse as what it means to be a legal videographer, the components of a deposition recording system, the CLVS Code of Ethics, and the CLVS Standards for Video Depositions, as well as applicable Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The project is still in its infancy, but NCRA plans to make the online version available by early to mid-2017.

The weekend concluded with a number of candidates taking the production exam. For some, it was the culmination of their studies and will result in them becoming newly certified, while for others it was the second step as they prepare to take the Written Knowledge Test in January 2017.

Natalie Dippenaar is NCRA’s Professional Development Program Manager. She can be reached at ndippenaar@ncra.org.

Arkansas allows RPR as equivalent for court reporting license

JCR publications share buttonThe Arkansas Supreme Court recently posted and approved a final rule change that accepts NCRA’s RPR certification in lieu of the state exam.

Read more.

NCRA’s 2016 Convention & Expo: Something for everyone

Convention-JCRcom-BoxAdOnline registration for NCRA 2016 Convention & Expo happening at the Hilton Chicago, Chicago, Ill., Aug. 4-7, closes July 29, so hurry and register now to participate in the vast array of continuing education sessions, networking opportunities, certification preparation workshops for the Certified Realtime Reporter and the Realtime Systems Administrator, and, of course, all that’s new on the Expo floor.

Whether you are an official, freelancer, broadcast or CART captioner, legal videographer, educator, student, or legal services provider, this year’s schedule has something to help you be the architect of your future. Plus attendees who need CEUs can earn up to 2.45 of them with a full registration and optional workshops.

Among the educational session highlights are:

Freelancer business 101. Presenters: Lisa DiMonte, RMR, CMRS; Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS; Marjorie Peters, RMR, CRR; and Dave Tackla, CLVS

Compassion fatigue and job stress. Presenter: April Kopp, LCSW, MFA

Your cloud-based office. Presenters: Nancy Bistany, RPR and Kim Neeson, RPR, CRR, CRC

The secret business of court reporting. Presenter: Debbie Bridges Duffy, RPR

Beyond the captions:  Captioner roundtable. Presenters: Merilee Johnson, RMR, CRR, CRC; Bill Graham; and Deanna Baker, FAPR, RMR

90 apps in 90 minutes. Presenter: Sara Wood, CAE

Tax tips for court reporters. Presenter: Charlotte Ogorek

Best practices for realtime reporting. Presenters: Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC; Christine Phipps, RPR; and Sandy VanderPol, FAPR, RMR, CRR

Anywhere, anytime:  Online testing. Presenter: Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE

Are you an independent contractor or an employee? Presenter: Chris Wojcicki

Video equipment configuration:  Real world equipment setups. Presenters: Richard Hayden, CLVS, and Jason Levin, CLVS

In addition, students, educators, and school administrators will enjoy a selection of sessions tailored specifically to their interests and needs.

Other highlights for the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo include professional speaker and humorist John Wagner, who will address the topic of “Pride in the Profession” when he takes the stage as the keynote presenter during the Premier Session; the national Speed and Realtime Contests; the installation of NCRA’s 2016-2017 Officers and Board of Directors; and the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award, the highest award bestowed by NCRA. Networking opportunities will include receptions, the annual awards and NCRF Angels luncheons, and the President’s Party.

Remember, the deadline for online registration is July 29. For more information and to register for the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo, visit NCRA.org/Convention.

Continuing coverage for the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo

Convention-JCRcom-BoxAdDon’t miss a single piece of news! Explore continuing coverage of the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo, held Aug. 4-7 in Chicago, with the stories below.

Continuing coverage

Awards and scholarships

Information about voting

Continuing education and certification information

Special events

Convention preparation

More information

 

Get the edge by attending NCRA’s CRR Boot Camp

CRR Boot Camp_resizedProfessionals considering taking the Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) test have the opportunity to gain an advantage by attending the CRR Boot Camp being offered for the first time at the NCRA Convention & Expo being held at the Chicago Hilton in Chicago, Ill., Aug. 4-7.

NCRA’s CRR certification represents realtime pro­ficiency for those who earn it as it is recognized in the industry as the national certification of real­time competency. Holding the CRR also can lead to an increase in salary, as noted by a number of recent NCRA surveys.

“As the CRR Chief Examiner in Massachu­setts, I saw so many candidates come back time and time again to take the certification test. It was bittersweet. They couldn’t pass, but they kept trying,” said Kathryn Sweeney, RMR, CRR, a freelance reporter and agency owner from Acton, Mass., who helped develop the boot camp pro­gram and will be teaching it at the NCRA Convention & Expo.

“The idea of the boot camp came about when the Board of the Massachusetts Court Reporters Association (MCRA) approached me with ques­tions as to why there were not more people pass­ing the CRR exam and what I could do to maybe help those candidates,” said Sweeney, who also served as a beta tester for NCRA’s online testing system and as CRR Chief Examiner on behalf of the Association for 17 years.

“They gave me two hours and a place to give a seminar back in October of 2009. It was originally named ‘Ready? Begin.’ Those are the two most dreaded words for even the most skilled court reporter,” Sweeney said.

Because it was felt that the original name of the program might actually scare people away, it was renamed the CRR Dress Rehearsal. Over the years, however, said Sweeney, the presentation turned into a three-hour session and was appro­priately renamed again to the CRR Boot Camp.

Word about the program has been spreading across states, according to Sweeney who most re­cently presented the session at the Georgia Court Reporters Convention. Other state court reporter associations have also been contacting her about presenting it at their meetings, leaving her very excited about having the opportunity to bring it to an ever wider audience.

“Word finally spread to NCRA, and I was of­fered a webinar, which I gave last August. After the success of that, I was invited to their annual convention this year,” said Sweeney.

Unlike NCRA’s newest certification, the Certi­fied Realtime Captioner (CRC), which requires participation in a 10-hour workshop before being able to take the test, the CRR Boot Camp is not a prerequisite for taking the CRR test. However, said Sweeney, it can certainly help with increasing the chances of passing on the first take.

In the course, she explains to attendees the testing requirements, covers NCRA’s What is an Error?, discusses what is not an error, and talks about the new online testing process. She also offers tips on working on self-preparation, includ­ing what to have on test day, what to do and not do on test day, and how and why candidates fail. Participants in the session are also asked to bring their equipment with them because Sweeney said she also lets them take a couple of practice tests, as well as manipulates the system settings and dictionary entries.

“There is so much material. Even if just one thing I teach resonates with an attendee, one thing that they can go back and fix or change, it may just be the one thing that pushes them over the hump and gets them that CRR desig­nation,” said Sweeney.

One reason she attributes the program’s success in helping CRR candidates be suc­cessful in passing the test is because much of the material she covers about being prepared includes information often missed, such has having flash drives or SD cards properly for­matted, which is included in the recommended reading on the testing website or contained in the pre-test emails they receive.

“The most frustrating part of being the proc­tor at brick-and-mortar testing sites was that I could not help the candidates. It was simply not allowed. They were supposed to just know all this stuff. Heck, candidates showed up without their driver’s license because they didn’t know they needed to show it to me,” she said.

“I strongly believe taking the CRR Boot Camp will increase the chance of passing this test. When I finished my presentation in Geor­gia, a woman who already had her CRR came up to me and said that she wished this seminar was around when she was preparing for the test; that it had all of the information and steps that she muddled through on her own. She said it took years of figuring out what was being asked of her and then changing her writing and learning her equipment and software in order to pass,” Sweeney said. “With this boot camp, I can help you in three hours.”

Perhaps the greatest benefit of taking the CCR Boot Camp is that attendees will know if they’re ready to take the test or not, while those who have taken the test before will realize why they didn’t pass, she noted.

“I am a huge proponent of not throwing money away. If you’re not quite ‘there’ yet, then don’t spend (the money) on this test. You will learn what you need to work on before you take the plunge and sign up for the test. You will know when you’re ready, instead of just winging it and hoping for the best,” Sweeney added. “The CRR really is the easiest test you’ll ever fail. But why fail at all? Learn what you need to do in order to pass. Come to my boot camp!”

Sweeney, who has been a court reporter for 25 years, is also past president of MCRA and served a total of eight years on its Board of Directors.

To earn the CRR certification, professionals are required to hold the Registered Profes­sional Reporter (RPR) certification, be a current member of NCRA, and pass a realtime testi­mony skills test at 200 words per minute with 96 percent accuracy.

 

For more information about or to register for NCRA’s CRR Boot Camp and the 2016 Convention & Expo, visit NCRA.org/meetings.