Arizona legislature adds services for the deaf, hard of hearing

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Associated Press reported on Jan. 16 that the Arizona legislature is providing a live captioning service and looping technology for committee hearings for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. People can request captioning in advance through the Arizona legislature’s website.

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Man sues Fort Myers for failing to provide captioning of online meetings

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn Dec. 27, WINK News reported that a Miami-Dade County, Fla., man filed a complaint against the City of Fort Myers for failing to provide closed captioning for people who are hard of hearing.

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London’s Grand Theatre opens doors to deaf patrons and actors

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe CBC reported on Dec. 20 that the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario, Canada is reaching out to the deaf community to help make productions more accessible. The Grand has announced that for the first time it’s offering open-captioned shows as well as productions that will feature actors who are deaf or hard of hearing.

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The November/December issue of HLAA magazine features NCRF’s HOHH Project

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe latest issue of the Hearing Loss Association of America’s membership magazine features an article about the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project in an article authored by April Weiner, Manager of the National Court Reporters Foundation. NCRF launched the program, which is funded by an innovation grant awarded by the American Society of Association Executives.

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America’s first national deaf television network relaunches

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Silent Network, the nation’s first national television network geared to viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing, announced in a press release issued Oct. 26 that it has relaunched its television service. The Silent Network will present all programing in sign language, open captioning, and full sound, granting accessibility to everyone. The revival is the result of a new partnership between the Media Data Network (Las Vegas, Nev.) and the Deaf Television Foundation (Austin, Texas), which operates The Silent Network.

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Debilitating disease no deterrent for dedicated Astros fan

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyAn Oct. 19 article in the Houston [Texas] Chronicle spotlights Victor Lombrana, a Houston Astros fan who is blind and deaf due to Type 2 Usher syndrome. The article mentions NCRA member Susan Henley, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer in Houston, who captions the Astros’ and Rockets’ home games.

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Veterans and family members share stories at Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project event

Left to right: Marylyn Howe is interviewed by Carol Menton while Liz Speer and Sheri Smargon write.

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) hosted a fourth Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative on Oct. 13 at the Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA) annual conference held in Orlando, Fla. The interviews will be transcribed and submitted to the Library of Congress for its Veterans History Project (VHP).

Volunteer court reporters, captioners, and interviewers captured seven new interviews of U.S. war veterans, including the story of Maj. Gen. Charles W. Sweeney, the only American Air Force pilot to fly on both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic missions during World War II. Sweeney’s story was shared by his daughter, Marylyn Howe, of Savannah, Ga.

Howe shared how her father’s career as a pilot evolved in the U.S. Air Force, that he had earned a Silver Star for his service, and that he also wrote a book called War’s End about his experience on the last atomic mission. Now out of print, Howe said the book will be updated with photos and other materials and reprinted in 2018. She also noted that her late father was instrumental in founding the Massachusetts State Air Guard and was actively involved in helping to establish such volunteer groups throughout all states.

Left to right: Cheri Frady shows a picture of her husband while Laura Landerman writes. Marylyn Howe interviewed Frady, and Georgia Rodriguez also wrote.

“It is very meaningful that veterans with hearing loss are being recognized and able to share their stories,” said Howe, an audiologist who has worked with veterans suffering hearing loss. “Many people don’t realize the hearing problems related to service and what a significant impact it can have on lives.” Howe also serves as co-chair of ALDA’s Publicity Committee.

Howe provided a copy of her father’s book that will be included with the final transcript in the Library of Congress.

Howe’s husband, Brian, a retired U.S. Marine Corps captain and pilot who suffers hearing loss from long-term exposure to jet engines, shared his story about his service in Vietnam. He also volunteered to interview U.S. Army veteran Ron Walker, SP4, from Merry Hill, N.C. During his interview, Walker shared that he earned the Purple Heart Award and two Bronze Stars for his service in Vietnam.

Cheri Frady, St. Petersburg, Fla., the widow of Teairlton Frady, who served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, shared letters he wrote home as well as a number of entries from his journals. These materials will be submitted to the Library of Congress with the final transcript. Frady also shared that her late husband was a Native American Onondaga and that he suffered health-related issues caused in part by his exposure to the powerful herbicide and defoliant Agent Orange used during the war.

Other veterans interviewed included:

  • Paul Morris, Clearwater, Fla., U.S. Army SP4, who served between the Korean and Vietnam wars
  • Harvey Rothman, Kissimmee, Fla., U.S. Army, SP4, who served in Vietnam
  • Gary Talley, Petersburg, Va., U.S. Navy, PN3, who served on the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy (CV-67)

Left to right: Brian Howe interviews while Michelle Pulido Stubben writes Ron Walker’s story, seated next to Irene Walker.

“It is an honor for me to do this. My son is a U.S. Marine, and I am proud of all of our servicemen,” said Nancy Rivera, RPR, a freelancer from Valrico, Fla., who volunteered to take down a veteran’s story at the event. “I was touched by the first time I did this. It hits home for me. I like to hear their stories and the emotion. It means a lot to them, and it means a lot to me.” Rivera noted that this was the first time she had participated in a live VHP event. The first time she volunteered for a VHP event was online.

“This was the first time I participated in one of these events, and I had no idea what to expect,” said Laura Landerman, RMR, CRR, a freelancer from Altamonte Springs, Fla. “Most reporters don’t provide realtime or captioning, and since I can do both, I volunteered. I would do it again. I liked that I could provide captions to aid the interviewer,” she added.

Nancy Rivera writes while Liz Speer interviews Harvey Rothman

Liz Speer, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer from Apopka, Fla., who volunteered to transcribe as well as interview, said participating in the event was especially meaningful to her because her own father had served in the U.S. military.

“The timing was just right. I lost my dad two months ago. He served in two wars, and he would have loved to have been interviewed. That’s the primary reason I volunteered. It’s also exciting to read those stories already down and know they are at the Library of Congress,” she added.

Other volunteer reporters and captioners included:

  • Michelle Pulido Stubben, Orlando, Fla.
  • Georgia Rodriguez, RPR, freelancer, Jacksonville, Fla.;
  • Sheri Smargon, RDR, CRR, CRC, broadcast captioner, Riverview, Fla.

Other volunteer interviewers included:

  • Carol Menton, case manager for Metro North/Northeast Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, in Boston, Mass., and an ALDA member
  • Larry Littleton, Oahu, Hawaii, a member of the ALDA Publicity Committee

NCRA and NCRF were also present on the ALDA expo floor, where NCRA members volunteered by providing captioning and CART demonstrations and answering questions from attendees about their services. Volunteers at the booth included:

  • Jamie Chancellor, CRC, broadcast captioner, Orlando, Fla.
  • Amie First, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE, CART captioner, Orlando, Fla.
  • Maria Rodriguez, RPR, freelancer, Tampa, Fla.

Jamie Chancellor demonstrates captioning at the NCRA booth at the ALDA expo

Other NCRA members attending the ALDA conference included Pat Graves, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner and agency owner from Monument, Colo., who chairs ALDA’s CART committee; and committee members Tess Crowder, RPR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner and agency owner from Tampa, Fla.; Anthony Trujillo, RMR, CRR, a freelance captioner from Kissimmee, Fla.; and Rita Meyer, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner from Orlando, Fla.

NCRF’s Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative specifically seeks to interview veterans with hearing loss with the help of CART captioning. Hearing loss is among the most common service-related injuries due to constant exposure to loud noises in training and in combat, and it tends to worsen over time. In addition to preserving these veterans’ stories for the VHP, the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project introduces CART captioning, which is a service that may benefit these veterans in their daily lives.

NCRF launched the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project at the Hearing Loss Association of America’s headquarters in Bethesda, Md., in February, where five veterans with varying degrees of hearing loss chronicled their service experiences. In June, seven veterans were interviewed during the 2017 Hearing Loss Association of America’s Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah.

NCRA members have been listening and taking down veterans’ stories since NCRF partnered with the Library of Congress in 2003 to have court reporters transcribe veterans’ stories from their collection of now more than 100,000. In 2007, members were asked to preserve the stories of veterans who hadn’t yet recorded their histories through personal interviews and VHP Days. To date, NCRF has submitted more than 4,100 transcripts to the Library of Congress.

NCRF’s Hard-of-Hearing Heroes initiative is supported by an Innovation Grant from the American Society of Association Executives Foundation. For more information, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF, or contact April Weiner, Foundation Manager, at aweiner@ncra.org.

New committee aims to promote court access for people with disabilities

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyA Sept. 26 press release by the Hon. Lawrence K. Marks, chief administrative judge of the New York State Unified Court System, announced the formation of the Advisory Committee on Access for People with Disabilities. The committee is charged with “developing an action plan to improve access to the New York State courts for all persons, including those with visual, hearing, communication, mobility, cognitive and other disabilities.”

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Reaching out through NCRA-supported organizations

NCRA and its members give back through many projects and organizations. This month, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc., and the Julie Brandau Community Service Memorial Project are highlighted.

Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

On Aug. 29, NCRA sponsored the 22nd TDI Biennial Conference, held in Bethesda, Md.

The conference, which attracted hundreds of attendees, offered three days of panels and guest speakers addressing the latest issues affecting the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.

“NCRA has a long history of working with TDI to support the needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, including shaping telecom policy recommendations of the Disability Advisory Council of the Federal Communications Commissions,” said Mathew R. Barusch, NCRA’s Manager, State Government Relations.

“NCRA is proud to support TDI and looks forward to a continued partnership,” he added.

A woman in uniform poses, kneeling, next to a black-and-white border collie mix dog

Andrea Sutcliffe & Skye. Photo © National Disaster Search Dog Foundation

National Disaster Search Dog Foundation

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the Houston, Texas, area last week, two Julie Brandau Project–sponsored search dog teams, trained at the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, have been deployed to the area to aid in search-and-rescue efforts.

The teams of Patti Kraft and Billy as well as Andi Sutcliffe and Skye joined two other canine teams from the Texas Task Force in San Antonio to await their deployment. The Dallas-based teams also joined rescue teams sent from Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Diego, Calif. A local news station aired a story about Sutcliffe and Skye, showcasing the work the two do together in times of emergencies and disasters. The JCR reported on the work that the duo did responding to tornadoes that struck Garland, Texas, in December 2015.

A woman in uniform poses, kneeling, next to a german shepherd mix dog on a leash

Kristi Bartlett & Ivan. Photo © National Disaster Search Dog Foundation

In addition, Kristi Bartlett and Ivan, based in Fairfax, Va., have been deployed in preparation for Hurricane Irma. Bartlett and Ivan have also been sponsored by the Julie Brandau Project, and they are “part of one of only two FEMA Task Forces in the United States that respond internationally,” according to the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. Bartlett and Ivan join teams from California, Pennsylvania, and New York.

The Julie Brandau Community Service Memorial Project was established by the court reporting community in honor of the court reporter who was murdered in an Atlanta, Ga., courtroom in 2005. The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation rescues high-energy dogs and trains them to become search-and-rescue canines for firefighters and other first responders at no cost to their agencies.

NCRF hosts a second Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Veterans History Project

The National Court Reporters Foundation hosted a second Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative on June 23 at the 2017 Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) Convention held in Salt Lake City, Utah. Volunteer court reporters, captioners, and interviewers turned out to help chronicle the service experiences of seven veterans, which will be transcribed for the U.S. Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP).

Four people sit around a table in a hotel conference room. Two women, in the back, are concentrating intently (while transcribing). In the foreground, two men are in conversation. The man on the right has war injuries, primarily seen on his face.

Retired Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris (front right), who received life threatening injuries while serving in Iraq, is interviewed by retired Lt. Lynn Hinckley (front left). Cecilee G. Wilson (back right) provides CART while Amber Fraass (back left) transcribes.

Among those interviewed was HLAA convention keynote speaker retired Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris, who served in the U.S. Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He suffered severe third degree burns on 35 percent of his body after his armored vehicle was struck by an IED in February 2007.

Harris’s injuries also included the loss of both ears, the tip of his nose, three fingers, and numerous broken bones. The devastating injuries required that he remain in a medically induced coma for 48 days; after, he spent nearly three years recovering and undergoing intensive physical therapy at the burn unit of the Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, Texas. Harris received numerous awards for his service including a Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal three times.

While at BAMC, he was the first soldier to participate in cutting-edge regenerative stem-cell research to regrow his fingers and later received prosthetic ears. His recovery has involved more than 75 surgeries. He also has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD. In 2010, Harris was medically retired from the Army. He is now a motivational speaker and author of Steel Will: My Journey through Hell to Become the Man I Was Meant to Be.

“If it isn’t written down, it did not happen,” said retired Lt. Lynn Hinckley, who served 26 years with the U.S. Army National Guard and volunteered to interview Harris. “My personal takeaway is that stories are important and allow us to pass on our heritage. Personal stories are just that, personal; they carry a power that nothing else can match,”

Hinckley also had the opportunity to interview Randal “Randy” Nelson, a retired U.S. Army Colonel who served during both Gulf Wars including deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nelson earned many awards over the course of his service, including two Bronze Stars and three Legion of Merit awards. Originally from South Dakota, Nelson now resides in North Carolina. During his interview he shared how he lost his hearing in his left ear during a Jet Ski accident, but was allowed to continue his military career by overcoming balance issues and learning to rely on his right ear.

During the interviews, the two veterans were able to connect having both served in the same locations in Iraq, a connection that appeared to help the interviewer and interviewee draw upon a camaraderie that is inherent among veterans.

Four people sit around a table in a hotel conference room. In the back is a middle-aged woman concentrating while transcribing on a steno machine. On the left and right are two men -- one younger, one older, in conversation. In the foreground is the back of a yong woman; her steno machine is in front of her and a laptop is on the table with the spoken words appearing on the screen in real time.

Retired Marine Corp combat veteran Don Doherty (left) is interviewed by Patrick Holkins (right). Amber Fraass transcribes (middle), while Phoebe Moorhead (far right) provides CART.

“This project provides an opportunity for nonveterans to get a feel for what military life is like. This is information that would have died with the veteran if not for this project,” said Hinckley.

Other veterans interviewed during the event included:

  • Don Doherty, a retired Marine Corps combat veteran, who lost his hearing during the Vietnam War and has worn hearing aids since 1970. Over the course of his service, Doherty earned the Combat Action Ribbon, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Presidential Unit Citation. He has worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs for more than 20 years and currently serves as the vice-chairperson for HLAA. He resides in Moyock, N.C., and was interviewed by fellow HLAA board member Patrick Holkins, an attorney from Washington, D.C.
  • Mike Wehman, a Radioman 2nd Class and Shellback, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He served on the Charles S. Sperry destroyer ship, the Wright communications ship, and the Benewah – floating command center in the Mekong Delta. Wehman earned the Vietnam Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal. He resides in Des Plaines, Ill.
  • Retired Lt. Commander Ron Tallman, who served 22 years in the U.S. Navy. He served during the Vietnam and first Gulf War and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and Meritorious Service Medal, among others He is a board member of the Sun Lakes, Ariz., HLAA chapter and co-chair for the Arizona Walk4Hearing. He is originally from Seattle, Wash., and resides in Arizona.
  • Gerald “Jerry” Hutch, who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War/pre-Vietnam era as an Airman 1st Class E-4. He was born in McKees Rocks, Pa., and served his entire tour of duty in Texas. He currently resides in Helena, Mont. Hutch is legally blind due to age-related macular degeneration has severe hearing loss in both ears, and uses digital hearing aids.
  • Louis Shaup, who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War as an SP4 and E-4. He served in the Military Assistance Advisory Group Vietnam, conducting top-secret Army intelligence. Shaup earned several awards for his service, including the Vietnam Service Medal. He was born in Ashland, Penn., and now resides in California.

“This interview opportunity was an incredibly profound experience for me,” said Matthew R. Barusch, NCRA’s Manger of State Government Relations, who volunteered to talk with U.S. Army veteran Louis Shaup.

“The opportunity to hear a firsthand account of Louis’ wartime experience was both moving and humbling, and for me, reinforced the necessity of the Veterans History Project. These veterans, who sacrificed a lot to serve our country, deserve to have their stories heard and preserved, and I was honored to be a part of that preservation,” Barusch said.

Interviewers and captioners from Utah who also volunteered their time to support the NCRF event included NCRA members:

  • Amber Fraass, RPR, a freelance reporter from South Ogden
  • Heidi Hunter, RPR, a freelance reporter from Salt Lake City
  • Kristin E. Marchant, RPR, a freelance reporter from South Jordan
  • Phoebe Moorhead, RPR, a freelance reporter from North Ogden
  • Rossann Morgan, RPR, a freelance court reporter from West Jordan
  • Ariel Mumma, RPR, a freelance court reporter from Salt Lake City
  • Michelle Naert, RPR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner from Saratoga Springs
  • Lindsay Payeur, RPR, a freelance reporter from Grantsville
  • Laurie Shingle, RPR, CMRS, from Pleasant View
  • Cecilee G. Wilson, RDR, CRR, CRC, a broadcast captioner from Kaysville

NCRF’s Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative specifically seeks to interview veterans with hearing loss with the help of CART captioning. Hearing loss is among the most common service-related injuries due to constant exposure to loud noises in training and in combat, and it tends to worsen over time. In addition to preserving these veterans’ stories for the VHP, the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project introduces CART captioning, which is a service that may benefit these veterans in their daily lives.

NCRF launched the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project at HLAA’s headquarters in Bethesda, Md., in February, where five veterans with varying degrees of hearing loss chronicled their service experiences.

NCRA members have been listening and taking down veterans’ stories since NCRF partnered with the Library of Congress in 2003 to have court reporters transcribe veterans’ stories from their collection of now more than 100,000. In 2007, members were asked to preserve the stories of veterans who hadn’t yet recorded their histories through personal interviews and VHP Days. To date, NCRF has submitted more than 4,100 transcripts to the Library of Congress.

NCRF’s Hard-of-Hearing Heroes initiative is supported by an Innovation Grant from the American Society of Association Executives Foundation. Two more Hard-of-Hearing Heroes events will take place at the Military Order of the Purple Heart National Convention being held in Dallas, Texas, in August, and at the Association of Late-Deafened Adults annual convention being held in Orlando, Fla. in October. NCRF is currently seeking volunteers to participate at both of these events. For more information, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF, or contact April Weiner, Foundation Manager, at aweiner@ncra.org.