Preserving history

Tiva Wood (left) interviews Edward Connor, while Michelle Houston provides CART.

Tiva Wood (left) interviews Edward Connor while Michelle Houston provides CART.

NCRF’s new Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project takes the Veterans History Project to the next level

By April Weiner

Edward Connor was dining in the mess hall when the Japanese bombed his base during World War II. Everyone was running for cover in a nearby ditch. “I landed on a guy and said to him: ‘As soon as we get out of this, I’ll take my feet out of your face,’” Major Connor told NCRA President Tiva Wood, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, who was interviewing him for the Veterans History Project (VHP). “He said, ‘You leave your feet where they is,’” since the feet were protecting the other soldier’s head. Major Connor lost most of his hearing when one of the bombs struck an airplane close to the ditch, but that didn’t prevent him from finishing his mission before returning home to seek treatment.

Connor, who served in the Air Force, was one of five veterans with varying degrees of hearing loss who chronicled their service experiences for the VHP at the National Court Reporters Foundation’s launch of its Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project at the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) headquarters in Bethesda, Md., on Saturday, Feb. 18. The other veterans interviewed were: Fred Becchetti, who served in the Army Air Corps in World War II; David McWatters, who served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War; Charles Rupprecht, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War; and James Whitcraft, who served in the Air Force during the Persian Gulf War, among other conflicts. (Rupprecht and Whitcraft were interviewed over the phone.)

Glynis Locks takes down the interview of Charles Rupprecht.

Glynis Locks takes down the interview of Charles Rupprecht.

Court reporters and captioners traveled from as far as southern Virginia and Pennsylvania to volunteer their time and skills to preserve these veterans’ experiences for the VHP.

“Veterans always thank the court reporters who capture and transcribe their stories at events like the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project,” said Wood, who is a freelancer based in Mechanicsburg, Pa. “But truly, we are the ones who are thankful for being given the opportunity to honor them by ensuring that their stories become part of history forever through the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. Being able to capture and preserve the stories of our war heroes who are hard of hearing takes a combined effort of the skills of court reporters and captioners and highlights the important role they play in allowing this group of veterans to tell their stories.”

In addition to Wood, the volunteers at the event were Cheryl Hansberry, RDR, CRR, CRC, Harrisburg, Pa., and her husband, Mike; Linda Larson, RPR, CRI, Carlisle, Pa.; Glynis Locks, Norfolk, Va.; Michelle Houston, RPR, Brandywine, Md.; Karyn Menck, RDR, CRR, CRC, Nashville, Tenn.; Jan Hamilton, RDR, Arnold, Md.; Christina Hotsko, RPR, Arlington, Va.; and Meredith Dattoli, Bethesda, Md.

Hamilton transcribed Major Connor’s interview: “The most memorable thing for me was hearing [Connor] speak of the various battles, in the air and on the ground, and his bravery that led to him ultimately being awarded the Silver Star. It was a humbling experience to meet a decorated soldier of this era.”

Dattoli interviewed Rupprecht, and the experience was personally meaningful for her. “The most interesting part of our conversation to me was the fact that his hearing loss was the result of an accident,” said Dattoli. “He was only 21 or 22 when, while participating in training exercises, he happened to be right next to a missile that accidentally went off, which led to the hearing loss that he still experiences today, more than 40 years later. In the grand scheme of things, he was lucky that nothing worse happened, but his story really opened my eyes to how much the men and women in our military sacrifice every day, even if they aren’t on the front lines.” She added: “Having the opportunity to interview Mr. Rupprecht and hearing his story hit especially close to home for me because my older brother is in the Navy and my boyfriend is in the Army, and I have a higher appreciation now for how lucky they have been.”

From L to R: Cheryl Hansberry transcribes as Mike Hansberry interviews Fred Becchetti, while Michelle Houston provides CART.

From L to R: Cheryl Hansberry transcribes as Mike Hansberry interviews Fred Becchetti, while Michelle Houston provides CART.

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 oral histories. In 2013, 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.

“This was one of those special moments in life where I was doing something for someone else,” said Larson. “[McWatters’] story will be preserved because I was there providing court reporting and then later transcribed it. His story will be stored at the Library of Congress and be a part of history.”

The Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project is a new NCRF initiative that specifically seeks to interview veterans with hearing loss for the VHP with the help of CART captioning. This is important because hearing loss is among the most common service-related injuries due to constant exposure to loud noises in training and in combat. Hearing loss also 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.

“One can’t help but become engrossed while listening to these amazing veterans tell their stories as if it were yesterday,” said Houston. “[Major Connor’s] wife reminded him to share events and awards he had left out to ensure we got the whole story. We were eager to hear it as well. It was a privilege and an honor to provide CART captioning for this project.”

Washington D.C.’s news channel NBC4 came to the event and heard from two of the veterans interviewed, Becchetti and McWatters, as well as NCRF Deputy Executive Director B.J. Shorak. “I was surprised to be on the Channel 4 News so much and that it was mostly as a hand model,” said Larson. “It was one of those days where you just don’t know what you’re getting into and you leave feeling like, I’m happy that I was there. It was a good day.”

From left to right: Michelle Houston, Sarah Connor, Edward Connor, Tiva Wood, and Jan Hamilton.

From left to right: Michelle Houston, Sarah Connor, Edward Connor, Tiva Wood, and Jan Hamilton.

NCRF will host Hard-of-Hearing Heroes VHP Days across the country, supported by an Innovation Grant from the American Society of Association Executives Foundation. The next event will be held during HLAA’s annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, in June, and a third event is planned in conjunction with the Association of Late-Deafened Adults’ annual convention, which will be held in Orlando, Fla., in October.

For more information, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF.

April Weiner is the National Court Reporters Foundation Manager. She can be reached for more information at aweiner@ncra.org.

Groups seek captioning assurances from FCC

JCR logoMultichannel.com reported on May 12 that a host of groups serving the deaf and hard-of-hearing community have asked the Federal Communications Commission to make sure that closed captioning requirements carry over to the voluntary rollout of the ATSC 3.0 next gen transmission standard.

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NCRA member earns award for service to the disability community

Karla Martin poses with Mayor Mark Mitchell after receiving her award

Karla Martin poses with Mayor Mark Mitchell after receiving her award

On April 25, Karla Martin, RPR, was presented with the Business Leadership Award at the 29th Annual Mayor’s Disability Awards in Tempe, Ariz. She was recognized for her work in CART captioning, including covering deaf and hard-of-hearing events and for her volunteer work with the emergency responder interpreter credentialing pilot program. Martin answered a few questions for the JCR Weekly about her background in CART captioning and what the award means to her.

Tell me about what kind of work you do and who some of your clients are.

I provide CART captioning services for several state agencies in Arizona, and I have provided services on-site and remotely for Arizona State University (ASU) and most of the community colleges in the Phoenix metro area. I also work with the Arizona Superior Court providing CART captioning for parties in civil and criminal cases. One of my most fun gigs is captioning live theater on cruise ships. I know it sounds so fun, but it can be challenging showing up and not knowing exactly what the setup and demands of the job will be.

Even though my focus is on CART captioning, I still take medical malpractice depositions that comprise possibly 10 to 20 percent of my total business. It’s true that real life can be so much more interesting than fiction, and I love what I learn every day on the job. I think it’s ironic that I have learned so much about working in court as a CART captioner. I worked as a freelance reporter taking depositions prior to transitioning to CART captioning.

How were you nominated for the Business Leadership Award?

I was nominated for the Community Service Award by Michele Michaels, who is the hard-of-hearing specialist for the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. I have been providing CART services for several of the local Hearing Loss Association of America groups for a number of years, and I believe that is one of the reasons Michele nominated me. When the decision was made, I was awarded the Business Leadership Award. I feel like I do fit in both categories.

The mission statement of the awards event is: “Since 1988 Tempe has proudly presented the Mayor’s Disability Awards honoring excellence in individuals with disabilities, employers, and others who have shown dedication to the equality, inclusion, and commitment to improving the quality of life for all Tempe residents. The goal of this annual event is to encourage everyone to work towards a fully inclusive and accessible Tempe.”

I live in Tempe, and I have played flute and piccolo in Tempe Symphony since 1990. This is a community symphony, and all of the players are volunteers. My first CART work was at ASU, also located in Tempe. I am also an advocate for animals, and I have served on boards of animal welfare organizations.

What does it mean to have been recognized for your work within the community?

I’m honored to be recognized by the City of Tempe. I’ve been committed to providing services for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community for over 20 years. I took four semesters of American Sign Language so I could better communicate with clients and colleagues who were Deaf. One of my favorite things about CART work is the appreciation expressed by clients. It’s so rewarding when someone randomly thanks you for the service they received.

Did you have any idea you were being considered?

Yes, I knew that I was being nominated. Michele requested information from me to assist her in the nomination process. I had attended the event a few times in the past, and I had secretly hoped one day I would receive an award.

Why is providing CART to those with hearing loss so important to you?

There are many reasons providing CART is important. It’s an accommodation for a protected class of individuals under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Our services provide communication access for our consumers’ safety, health, education, training, legal matters, and entertainment. Some days the importance is to raise the awareness of our services to administrators and disability resource managers of high schools, colleges, and hospitals. Other days it’s demonstrating to consumers what is possible with CART captioning technology to enhance their lives by receiving equal access to communication at their workplace.

How long have you been a CART captioner? Were you a freelancer or official court reporter prior? How long have you provided CART services?

I started providing CART for ASU in 1995. At the time I was working as a freelance deposition reporter. I started with some evening classes because I didn’t want to turn down depo work. After that it was a transition process. In 2005, I took a part-time staff position at ASU for a few years.

How did you enter the profession? How long have you been in the profession?

My first job as a reporter was at a freelance agency in Rochester, N.Y., in January of 1979. At that time I had been out of school for four months and passed part of my Illinois CSR. I was working as a legal secretary in Decatur, Ill. I moved to New York for the opportunity to work immediately since they didn’t require certification. It was a really busy firm, and I started taking medical malpractice depos six months after starting work as a freelancer. I had a great mentor reporter there. The firm was one of the first to embrace computer-assisted translation, as it was called then. After two years, I moved to Arizona for warmer weather.

Where did you go to school?

I decided to pick up court reporting as a “minor” while I was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in applied music at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. Between the flute and my machine, I spent the majority of my last two years of college in a practice room. I didn’t know what court reporting was until I had two roommates at college one summer who were finishing their internship and told me when they got out of school, they were going to “make a lot of money.”

What has been the most rewarding part of your career?

It’s rewarding for me when I work with someone who is going to school, and then later after they graduate and are working in their chosen field, we end up working together or see each other at disability-related events. It’s always rewarding when clients graduate from their programs of study, especially when I attend or work their graduation ceremonies. I like to believe I contributed to their success.

Please add any additional information you feel would be helpful to include.

Several government agencies in Arizona partnered in 2016 to create the Arizona Emergency Response Interpreter Training for ASL interpreters and CART captioners. The agencies are the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing, Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, Department of Forestry and Fire Management, and Maricopa County. I am one of three CART captioners in Arizona who were selected, trained, and received the emergency response interpreter credential. The program is a pilot, and the sponsoring agencies are hopeful other states will follow Arizona’s lead and create emergency response training programs for interpreters and CART captioners in their states.

NCRF launches Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project during Court Reporting & Captioning Week 2017

Veterans and court reporters at the kickoff Hard-of-Hearing Heroes event

Michelle Houston, Sarah Connor, Major Edward Connor, Tiva Wood, and Jan Hamilton

NCRF launched the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project at the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) headquarters in Bethesda, Md., on Saturday, Feb. 18.

Five veterans with varying degrees of hearing loss chronicled their service experiences for the Veterans History Project (VHP):

  • Fred Becchetti, who served in the Army Air Corps in World War II
  • Edward Connor, who served in the Air Force in World War II
  • David McWatters, who served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War
  • Charles Rupprecht, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War
  • James Whitcraft, who served in the Air Force during the Persian Gulf War, among other conflicts

Rupprecht and Whitcraft were interviewed over the phone.

Court reporters and captioners traveled from as far as southern Virginia and Pennsylvania to volunteer their time and skills to preserve these veterans’ experiences for the VHP collection at the Library of Congress.

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 2013, 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 4,000 transcripts to the Library of Congress.

The Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project is a new NCRF VHP initiative that 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.

Washington D.C.’s news channel NBC4 was on-site to hear from two of the veterans interviewed, Becchetti and McWatters, as well as NCRF Deputy Executive Director B.J. Shorak.

According to McWatters, veterans need to be educated on services they are entitled to.

“Veterans aren’t getting the information,” McWatters told NBC4. “If they had the information, they could use it. They have benefits.”

NCRF will host Hard-of-Hearing Heroes VHP Days across the country, supported by an Innovation Grant from the ASAE Foundation. NCRF will host an event during HLAA’s annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, in June, as well as at the Association of Late-Deafened Adults annual convention in Orlando, Fla., in October.

For more information, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF, or contact April Weiner, Foundation Manager, at aweiner@ncra.org.

NCRF Hard-of-Hearing Heroes oral histories project spotlighted

jcr-publications_high-resThe Andrews Gazette (Easton, Md.) posted an article about the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Veterans History Project event that NCRF and the Hearing Loss Association of America will host on Feb. 18 in Bethesda, Md., as part of NCRA’s 2017 Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

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NCRF’s Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project receives grant

hard-of-hearing-com-smThe National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) recently won a $10,000 Innovation Grant from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Foundation. The grant supports NCRF’s new program, the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project, which seeks to preserve the stories of America’s war veterans with hearing loss using CART captioning. The Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project is an offshoot of NCRF’s continued work with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP). NCRF will use grant funds to host Hard-of-Hearing Heroes VHP Days across the nation.

“NCRF is honored to be one of the recipients of this extremely competitive grant that allows us to expand our work preserving the accounts of America’s veterans,” said Mike Nelson, CEO and Executive Director of NCRA and NCRF. “Receiving this grant showcases our organization and the court reporting profession to tens of thousands of association executives across the country. In addition, it promotes our members’ services to thousands of members of veterans and hearing loss organizations at whose conventions NCRF will host Hard-of-Hearing Heroes VHP Days, including our partners the Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA) and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).”

NCRF is one of four recipients of the ASAE Foundation’s Innovation Grants, which receives more than 100 applications each year.

“Since the ASAE Foundation started the Innovation Grant Program (IGP) five years ago, we have received a number of outstanding applications that illustrate the innovative work associations are doing to help improve the industry. The committee had a hard time selecting four winners again this year,” said Paul K. Farrell, 2016 chair of the IGP steering committee and associate director of audiology professional practices at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. “Congratulations to the winning associations!”

The inaugural Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project VHP Day event will be on Feb. 18 at HLAA’s headquarters in Bethesda, Md., in conjunction with Court Reporting & Captioning Week. NCRF will also host events at HLAA’s annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, in June and at ALDA’s annual convention in Orlando, Fla., in October.

“HLAA is delighted to work with the National Court Reporters Foundation on the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project. It is vitally important that veterans’ wartime experiences are preserved for generations to come and are accessible to people with hearing loss,” said Nancy Macklin, Director of External Affairs & Events for HLAA. “As a token of appreciation for their service, HLAA provides veterans with hearing loss a complimentary membership and convention registration. HLAA will assist NCRF in recruiting veterans with hearing loss to be interviewed for this project.”

Four veterans will be interviewed at each of three sessions on Feb. 18. The sessions are 9-10:30 a.m.; 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; and 1:30-3 p.m.

For each veteran’s interview, NCRF will need a volunteer to interview the veteran, a captioner to provide realtime for the veteran, and a reporter to transcribe the interview for the Library of Congress. Both the court reporter and captioner may earn 0.25 PDCs for each veteran interviewed.

If you would like to volunteer at the Feb. 18 event, please contact April Weiner, NCRF Manager, at aweiner@ncra.org.

Closed captioning expected in Ann Arbor, Mich.

jcr-publications_high-resAnn Arbor, Mich., residents who are hard of hearing may soon be able to enjoy closed captioning on television sets in public areas, according to an article posted Jan. 3 by The Michigan Daily.

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Lawmakers sued over inadequate video pledge to add captioning

jcr-publications_high-resThe Norman Transcript, Oklahoma City, Okla., reported on Dec 16 that Senate lawmakers said they will continue live streaming their proceedings but would not comment on providing captions, citing a suit filed by the National Association of the Deaf.

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NCRF announces new initiative for veterans who are hard of hearing

hard-of-hearing-com-smBy April Weiner

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) is pleased to announce a new initiative as part of its Oral Histories Program: the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project. This project aims to capture the personal experiences of veterans with hearing loss for the Veterans History Project (VHP) through the use of CART captioning.

Given the success of the recent Purple Heart VHP Day at the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo, NCRF staff considered how to reach other subsets of veterans for the VHP, and the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project was born.

“Since 2003, NCRF has collaborated with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project to both complete oral history interviews of our nation’s war veterans and to transcribe those interviews, providing a helpful tool for researchers,” said Karen Lloyd, director of the Veterans History Project. “The VHP is excited to learn of NCRF’s new endeavor to participate in the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project. By interviewing veterans who are hard of hearing , NCRF is reaching a group of veterans – who have been previously underserved – to tell their stories and have them preserved at the Library of Congress.”

Hearing loss is among the most common service-related injuries, according to the Veterans Administration, which can be attributed to the constant exposure to high noise levels in both training and combat operations. The stats continue to worsen as weaponry has become more advanced in more recent conflicts. In fact, 60 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer some form of hearing loss, according to the Hearing Health Foundation.

“I appreciated being able to share my dad’s Purple Heart story at our Purple Heart Day in Chicago, and as it turns out, he also suffered a partial hearing loss from a shell going off in his immediate vicinity during combat,” said Nancy Hopp, RDR, CRR, CMRS, NCRF Chair, from St. Louis, Mo. “This is a common affliction among those who have served in war zones, which is why the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project will be beneficial in ensuring that all veterans have the opportunity to share their stories for the VHP.”

At a typical VHP Day, multiple veterans are individually interviewed simultaneously while a court reporter takes the interview down live. For the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project, the process will be the same with the addition of a CART captioner to provide realtime for the veteran who is hard of hearing.

“The Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project is a natural convergence of our current partnership with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project and the services that court reporters and captioners provide individuals who are hard of hearing on a daily basis,” said Mike Nelson, CEO & Executive Director of NCRA and NCRF. “The written record of these veterans’ interviews not only provides a searchable database that is used for research purposes by students, archivists, and Congress, but the interviews help us get a sense of the struggles of war and the sacrifices our protectors have made to guard our freedoms. We as a nation and society are so indebted to our veterans and so grateful for their selfless service.”

NCRF will work with hearing loss and veterans organizations to recruit veterans with hearing loss to be interviewed at VHP Days hosted by NCRF, as well as those conducted by reporters across the country. One of these partner organizations is the Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA).

“NCRF and ALDA have worked collaboratively for more than 25 years to provide realtime text translation (CART) for deafened adults,” said Steve Larew, president of ALDA. “Statistics have shown there might be 900,000 veterans with acquired hearing loss, and we are pleased to be part of this project that will allow them to share their stories as well as provide the opportunity for them to meet other adults and veterans with hearing loss.”

NCRF will host a kickoff event of its own during the 2017 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, Feb. 11-18, and encourages other firms and individuals to do the same.

“Caption First has provided realtime captioning to individuals with hearing loss in their work and personal lives for over 27 years. Our focus is to bring both access and dignity to persons with hearing loss. Deafness so often cuts people off, and reasonable accommodations reconnect them,” said Pat Graves, RDR, CRR, CRC, founder and president of Caption First, from Monument, Colo. “Millions of veterans have returned from war with hearing loss, which is why linking them with the skills of realtime captioners is the perfect vehicle for capturing their personal stories for the Veterans History Project. We look forward to our involvement in this worthy endeavor and encourage other CART captioners across the country to participate as well.”

While NCRF will kick off the project in February, reporters are encouraged to get involved with the VHP now, especially to honor veterans around Veterans Day.

April Weiner is NCRF’s Foundation Manager, who can be reached at aweiner@ncra.orgMore information on NCRF’s Hard-of-Hearing Heroes VHP Day will be announced in upcoming NCRA publications.

Accessibility has come a long way but still needs improvement

JCR publications share buttonAn editorial posted on Nov. 1 by The Virginian Pilot addresses how important closed captioning is to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community and why there still needs to be improvements made in providing accessibility for all people who are disabled.

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