NCRA gets you more than you think

NCRA offers members many different ways to invest in their futures, support the profession, and thrive in their careers. According to NCRA’s 2017 Member Needs Survey, members join NCRA for many reasons, including gaining access to national credentials, supporting the profession, and connecting with a national organization.

If you want to get the most out of your membership, consider how NCRA benefits you.

Respect from your clients, employers, and peers

Clients, employers, and peers know that people connected to a professional organization are more likely to know about and adhere to industry standards, ethical codes, and current policies — and NCRA members are the same in this regard. By being a part of the NCRA community of professionals, your clients, employers, and professional colleagues understand that you have made a commitment to your career and have a stake in maintaining the standards of the profession. Be proud of your commitment.

Showcase your NCRA membership with the NCRA member logo

Maximize your professional investment by marketing your achievements and membership. Did you know that NCRA offers a distinct NCRA member logo for use by NCRA members? You can include the NCRA member logo on your advertising, business, and other similar promotional materials as a way to denote your membership in the Association.

The NCRA member logo can only be used to designate individual membership, as only individuals can be members, and should not be used by companies or firms or in a way that implies a company is a member.

The NCRA member logo is not the same as the NCRA logo. If you are currently using the NCRA logo, please seek permission to use it, remove it from your materials, or consider whether the NCRA member logo would serve your purposes. More information about how members can use the NCRA member logo is part of NCRA’s Procedures & Policy Manual, which is available on NCRA.org. To access the most current version of the NCRA member logo, visit NCRA.org/Logos.

How to show off your NCRA credentials correctly

NCRA members who have earned an NCRA certification may use the certification or its abbreviation in their marketing materials as long as they maintain CEUs and pay annual dues. Be sure to enhance your marketing materials and website with your NCRA member and credential logos.

Discounts on office supplies, payroll services, movie tickets, and more

According to Chase Cost Management, workers in the legal professions spend an average of $1,000 per person per year on office supplies. That is a lot of folders, pens, and sticky notes. If those figures hold true for the professions of court reporting and captioning, NCRA members can easily recoup their annual NCRA membership dues just by taking advantage of the discounts available from Office Depot through the NCRA Saving Center.

NCRA Saving Center discounts at Office Depot provide members with savings up to 80 percent off office essentials. Some recent deals include expanding file folders that cost only 70 cents each. That’s a savings of $2.80 cents each. If you bought 100 file folders, you could recoup the cost of your NCRA membership in file-folder savings alone. Of course, other types of office supplies are available at discounted rates. To sign up for this benefit that is included in your NCRA membership, visit NCRA.savingcenter.net.

Other discounts available to NCRA members through the NCRA Saving Center include accounting and payroll services, access to a collection agency, credit card processing services, and discounts on entertainment deals, car rental fees, and access to telemedicine, health, and prescription drugs.

Connected to colleagues

Through NCRA social media pages, through NCRA events, and through JCR stories about members across the country and around the world, you learn more about what is going on in the profession and how your colleagues take on problems. NCRA members take to NCRA’s official Facebook groups to pose questions and offer solutions on day-to-day challenges, offer support for bad days and congratulations for milestones, and share the latest news affecting the professions. NCRA events offer informative presentations and inspiring speakers to break you out of the everyday grind and help you take the next step for you. NCRA’s publications give you nuggets of wisdom from other professionals that can help you build your career.

On your way to certification

No matter how you learn, we’ve got you covered. NCRA, in conjunction with Realtime Coach, offers a series of both videos and articles on the ins and outs of online testing. These videos and articles aid in preparing candidates for successful online skills testing. Your NCRA certification identifies you as a person interested in self-improvement, a career-minded individual, and a member of the professional community.

Year-round education opportunities

NCRA offers several ways to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) that offer the information you can use in your career, whether you are an official, freelancer, business owner, captioner, or legal videographer. From the inclusive and collaborative NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference for independent contractors, small agency owners, and large firm executives to the annual NCRA Convention & Expo for everyone; and from live webinars to series of e-seminars that you can access whenever and wherever you choose, NCRA’s extensive library has you covered.

Get the most from your membership

Your NCRA membership offers so much more than you might think — from member-exclusive discounts to networking opportunities to career-enhancing certifications. Is your membership up-to-date? Check your membership and profile information, including your email address, so you don’t miss announcements and news from NCRA. Visit NCRA.org to update your profile by April 15 and be listed in the printed 2018-2019 Sourcebook. Contact membership@ncra.org with questions.

Plan ahead for learning opportunities through NCRA

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Photo by Dafne Cholet

Mark your calendars and plan your learning path with NCRA through 2018. NCRA offers opportunities to earn CEUs in a variety of ways, from certification to webinars to live events. NCRA is your one-stop shop for your educational needs, whether you are working toward your next certification, your cycle ending date, or another goal.

Keep in mind that 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):

Court Reporting & Captioning Week (Feb. 10-17), Memorial Day (May 30), and Veterans Day (Nov. 11) are also all good opportunities to schedule Veterans History Project Days to earn PDCs, although members and students are invited to participate throughout the year. 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, Twitter, and LinkedIn 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.

NCRA celebrates the Best. Friday. Ever.

NCRA members can kick off their holiday shopping season on Nov. 24 by taking advantage of Black Friday discounts and giveaways being offered with the purchase of membership renewals, store items, educational sessions, and more.

NCRA members who renew their membership or join on Nov. 24 will be entered into a drawing to win a free registration to the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo. Registered members who renew on Black Friday will automatically be entered into a drawing to win a free registration for the Speed or Realtime Contests held at the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo. Members who renew their membership on Nov. 24 will also be eligible to win one of two Kindle Fires. That means the members who qualify may have three opportunities to win!

Other Best Friday Ever specials include a 20 percent discount on all NCRA Store items purchased using the promotional code FRIDAY at checkout. In addition, members who register for the 2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference and book their stay at The Don CeSar will be entered into a drawing for a free spouse registration for the event.

Members who purchase an NCRA e-seminar on Nov. 24 will be entered into a drawing to win a free e-seminar while members who purchase a Skills Test on Black Friday will be entered into a drawing to win one of two free Skills Test registrations.

Members are urged to mark their calendars to be sure they don’t miss the discounts and giveaways being offered only on Nov. 24.

What can you do in a month to earn CEUs?

A middle-aged white woman listens attentively during a workshop while taking notes.The Sept. 30 deadline for this year’s CEU cycle is coming up quickly, but there’s still time to earn a few more last-minute credits, both in person and online. Even if your CEU cycle isn’t ending this year, these ideas can help you stay on track and possibly even get that requirement done early.

Attend a webinar or e-seminar

Webinars and e-seminars are a great way to learn some new skills in the comfort of your own home and, in terms of e-seminars, on your own schedule. There are three 90-minute live webinars scheduled for this September:

If none of these webinars fit your schedule, check out the NCRA e-seminar library for 60- and 90-minute sessions on topics that include business, CART and captioning, ethics, grammar and language, history, official reporting, personal development, realtime, technology, and more.

Attend a pre-approved event, including state association conferences

Many state associations and other court reporter–related organizations are hosting conferences and seminars in September. In-person events give you the opportunity to network with other reporters and captioners while earning CEUs. Most events are one to three days, and several of them are in the first half of the month. Events are scheduled in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana/Wyoming/Idaho, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as Alberta, Canada, this month. Check out the full calendar of pre-approved events here, which includes the dates, location (geographic or online), and number of CEUs.

Learn CPR or first aid

The American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and other organizations often host seminars on CPR or first aid. Perhaps you can organize a few colleagues from your firm, court, or even your local area to team up for an event nearby. Court reporters and captioners have to be prepared for anything, so why not add safety to your list of skills? Learn more about the requirements for earning CEUs by learning CPR or first aid on NCRA.org/WaysToEarn.

Transcribe oral histories

Members who participate in the Oral Histories Program through the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) may earn Professional Development Credits for their time. Members can apply up to 1.0 PDC to their CEU requirement per cycle. Transcribe a 30- to 90-minute pre-recorded interview of an American veteran, Holocaust survivor, or attorney who has provided pro bono services through Legal Aid. Many people find participating in the Oral Histories Program to be especially rewarding. “As court reporters, we sometimes are too focused on the financial side of what we do, but (volunteering) is giving back. Anyone thinking of participating in one of these events should just jump right in and do it. It’s well worth it,” said Kimberly Xavier, RDR, CRR, CRC, CMRS, CRI, an official court reporter from Arlington, Texas, and a U.S. Air Force veteran, who recently volunteered at NCRF’s third Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative at the 86th Military Order of the Purple Heart 2017 Convention held in Dallas. Learn more at NCRA.org/NCRF/OralHistories.

Get credit for past events

You may have already participated in activities that have helped you earn CEUs or PDCs during the last year, and the only thing you need to do is fill out the proper form to get credit. If you promoted the profession at a career fair, law school, or other event; provided pro bono services; served on a state association board or committee (including the United States Court Reporting Association); or participated in a formal mentoring program, you may qualify for credit for your volunteerism. You can submit these CEUs and PDCs here.

Cycle extensions

If you need a four-month cycle extension (to Jan. 31) to finish those last CEUs, you can fill out the CEU extension request form by Sept. 30. Note that the deadline to complete CEUs or to request an extension is the same date.

View the full list of qualified continuing education activities at NCRA.org/WaysToEarn. View other continuing education forms here or view your current transcript here. If you have any questions, please contact the NCRA credentialing coordinator.

New webinar addresses data backup solutions and practices

NCRA’s Education Department has announced a new webinar that will address the importance of securing confidential electronic documents and backing up data systems, and will provide best practices for protecting data.

According to presenter Daniel Bistany, a co-founder and chief technology officer of Breeze IT, a managed-services provider and value-added reseller based in Costa Mesa, Calif., organizations in all industries are now storing confidential electronic documents, capturing increasing amounts of data, and amassing video, social media, and resource-intensive files. As a result, secure backup and recovery systems have become a business imperative.

Bistany, who believes a service-centric approach to business and partnerships is key to success, will share how Breeze IT’s culture is built around a personal, value-based approach that supports clients by giving them the highest level of service and a superior customer experience.

The one-hour seminar is on Feb. 23 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. ET, at a cost of $79. Attendees can earn 0.1 CEU.

Bistany graduated from the University of Arizona magna cum laude and earned a degree in economics with an emphasis in mathematics.

Breeze IT is recognized by leading industry publications as one of the CRN Next-Gen 250, and has been ranked #5 on the CRN Fast Growth 150 for 2014 and The INC 5000 for 2016. The company also ranked on Orange County’s List of Fastest Growing Private Companies in 2015 and 2016.

For more information or to register, visit NCRA’s webinar library.

New webinars from NCRA in January

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Photo by Anonymous Account

Need continuing education credits (CEUs) or just looking for a good webinar? NCRA is offering three new webinars for members in January that address the importance of good communication, transitioning from court reporting to captioning, and sparking inner motivation.

On Jan. 18 from 7-8 p.m. ET, members can tune in to hear Lynette Eggers, CRI, CPE, and learn how good relationships are built on the foundation of effective communication through a webinar entitled “Communicate with Power and Influence.” Eggers, who has nearly 30 years of experience in the field of court reporting and coaching, holds two master’s degrees and has served on a number of NCRA committees. A past instructor for NCRA’s Total Immersion pilot program, she is a recognized Certified Professional Coach and owner of Life to Grow Coaching & Leadership. The cost of the webinar is $79 and earns 0.1 CEU. To learn more or to register, visit NCRA’s webinar page.

Next on the schedule is “Transitioning from Court Reporting to Captioning,” a 90-minute webinar on Jan. 24, from 6:30-8 p.m. ET, co-presented by Steve Clark, CRC, and Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC. The webinar is designed help answer common questions professionals have when making the transition from the courtroom to the world of freelance work or the broadcast and CART captioning arena. The cost of the webinar is $99 and is equal to 0.15 CEU. To learn more, or to register, visit NCRA’s webinar page.

On Jan. 26, from 7-8 p.m. ET, Eggers is back with a webinar called “Lighting Your Fire! — Sparking Your Inner Motivation and Potential,” designed to help participants understand how to become more effective and fulfilled as an individual and learn more about building a greater sense of purpose and more. The cost of the webinar is $79 and is equal to 0.1 CEU. To learn more or to register, visit NCRA’s webinar page.

NCRA Kindle Fire winner announced

By Jennifer Late

More prizes available for membership renewal

A record number of members have renewed their 2017 membership in October. These renewals were driven in part by a chance to win a Kindle Fire.

NCRA membership renewal Kindle Fire winner

The lucky winner for October 2016 is Karla Jagusch, RPR, of Overland Park, Kan. She has been a court reporter for over 38 years, 36 of which she has been an official court reporter for the First and Tenth Judicial Districts of the State of Kansas. Karla explains why she renewed her membership: “I feel it is important and my obligation to support the association that supports me as a court reporter.”

Click here to renew now!

Photo by: Erik Araujo. Used and adapted with permission via Creative Commons

Renew before Dec. 1 and be entered to win

Members still have a chance to be rewarded for renewing before Dec. 1. NCRA will give away an upgraded Premium Plus listing on the online NCRA Sourcebook. Any Registered, Participating, or Associate member who has renewed before Dec. 1 will have their name entered into a drawing for this upgraded listing for January through December 2017.

NCRA continues to work for its members

  • Online skills testing: Whether you are just starting testing for your RPR or going for your CRC or another advanced certification, you can now complete your skills tests from the comfort of your own home. With more opportunities to test, you will be able to achieve your certification goals faster and increase your earning potential.
  • CRC Workshop & Certification: Based on member demand for more training in the field, NCRA created the new Certified Realtime Captioner program designed just for captioners.
  • FCC Captioning Quality Standards: NCRA’s Government Relations team has been working with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Alliance and the Federal Communications Commission to develop new captioning quality standards.
  • Increased online education opportunities: NCRA has expanded its first-class educational programming via webinars and e-seminars vetted to ensure they meet the needs of the marketplace. New online webinars and e-seminars are added each month for members to purchase, view, and earn CEUs.
  • Exhibiting at the ABA TechShow: NCRA has been advocating for you with judges, attorneys, paralegals, clerks, and other legal professionals. With a focus on what your certifications mean and the value of realtime, NCRA is raising the overall awareness of the profession with the people who matter.
  • For CLVS members: A stronger CLVS emphasis was added to the NCRA Convention & Expo, helping videographers network directly with the court reporting membership. By popular demand, new seminars and webinars were created to help CLVSs stay on the cutting edge of technology.

NCRA membership cards

In an effort to embrace technology, NCRA will continue our practice of sending only electronic membership cards to members via email. Members can expect to receive their membership card within approximately four weeks of renewing if they have a valid email address and have not previously opted out of Constant Contact email messaging.

Jennifer Late is NCRA’s Membership & Marketing Manager. She can be reached at jlate@ncra.org.

Submitting CEU forms is easier with NCRA’s online system

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Photo by: Anonymous Account

NCRA members can save money and time by submitting their Continuing Education and Professional Development forms online via the Association’s online submission system.

Submitting CEU forms using the online system is fast, secure, and costs only $45 dollars for members and $75 for nonmembers. As of Feb. 1, forms submitted via fax, regular mail, or email will incur an additional $25 processing fee in addition to the fees noted above.

NCRA’s certification page provides all the necessary information about the required CEUs and PDCs, as well as the necessary forms to verify units, cycle extensions, missing credits, seminar preapproval, and more.

The field of court reporting and captioning demands that its practitioners acquire and maintain a broad base of knowledge. For more information and to learn how to submit your education and professional development activities online, visit NCRA.org/CEUforms.

Top five errors to avoid when submitting continuing education credits online

NCRA launched the online continuing education system on June 1 as a way for our members to more easily submit their continuing education credits. For the most part, the new process has been smooth, but there are a few common errors to keep in mind when submitting credits.

  1. Submitting the credits under the wrong category. For activities that fall under the PDC category for credits (see Article IV of the CEU Rules), answer “No” to the question “Did you take a course, Online or In Person?” All PDC submissions have to be reviewed before they can appear on a transcript.Submitting CEUs online_1
  2. Submitting incomplete paperwork. All submissions must include proof of completion, and most should also include a course outline or syllabus. Programs listed on our Distance Learning page only need the proof of completion. In particular, submissions for Realtime Coach practice times need to include the weekly logs for the times submitted.
  3. Not having all the paperwork in one file for submission. The online submission process will only accept one document, so all items should be scanned into one document. Multiple files result in incomplete paperwork.
  4. Entering numbers in the wrong format or adding text to the “Total hours of instruction” field. Only numbers in a decimal format can be entered in the “Total hours of instruction” field. In this example, the hours should have been entered as 4.5. Anything other than a decimal leads to a “NaN” error message in the “CEU Total” field, which is a self-populating field – see example below.Submitting CEUs online_2
  5. Supporting document attachment is too large. Image files, particularly color images, can get very large. The online system cannot accept a file larger than 5120 kilobytes. Attempting to attach a document that is too large will result in either 1) an error message preventing the user from continuing to the payment page (like the example below) or 2) a message from NCRA that the documents weren’t attached.Submitting CEUs online_3

Bonus: While this is not an error, posting JCR article tests online using the online submission process is more expensive than taking JCR article tests via NCRA’s online testing system. Members save $15 in submissions by using the online test system. Visit the JCR article test page for more information and links.

E-seminar review: Syllables: Count on it!

The informative vendor e-seminar Syllables: Count on it! teaches court reporting students and instructors how to accurately count syllables to help with dictation. The e-seminar is presented by Janice Plomp, who, after 28 years as an official court reporter and CART provider, became a full-time instructor at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Plomp presents a software product called Syllables, which was created by Plomp and her brother. Their website states that Syllables provides a fast and simple method of creating accurate dictation materials.

At the beginning of the e-seminar, Plomp discusses how different sentences can be. For example, there could be the same number of words in two sentences but completely different number of syllables, which makes a huge impact in the world of court reporting. She then reviews syllabic density, the Syllables product, and the advantages and features offered. Plomp says, “It’s eye-opening to students to see how many syllables and repetitive words there are in a document. [With Syllables,] you can add syllabic breaks that you can save, and you can adjust the ease or difficulty of your document.”

Plomp spends time showing how Syllables works and ways court reporting students can benefit when practicing by using its functionality available in the library. Plomp states, “I got started [developing Syllables] because I thought there has to be a better way to count syllables. I can’t imagine my teaching career without it.”

This e-seminar is now available here.