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, or contact April Weiner, Foundation Manager, at

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

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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NCRA joins in tour of NIH Research Center

The National Institute of Health offered a tour of its facilities to representatives of the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus. Matthew Barusch, Manager, State Government Affairs for NCRA, joined 25 congressional staffers and hearing health advocates on the tour of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) Porter Neuroscience Research Center in Bethesda, Md.

“NCRA has long supported the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus and appreciates the value of events such as this brings to the constituents and stakeholders of the many organizations that support it,” said Barusch. “Learning more about the latest research that can lead to positive impacts on the lives of the people who are deaf or hard of hearing is so important to bringing awareness to lawmakers and the public about the many issues that surround broadcast and CART captioning and, overall, hearing health.”

Read more.

Closed captioning of New Zealand Parliament goes live reported on Aug. 8 that a wider range of New Zealanders will get better access to Parliament with the recent launch of live closed captioning. “New Zealand democracy has just taken a huge leap forward. Captions are a necessity for many deaf and hard of hearing New Zealanders and a valuable service for many others,” said Louise Sinden-Carroll, chair of the New Zealand Captioning Working Group.

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How New York City hears people with hearing loss

According to an article in the Aug. 8 issue of Forbes, New York City is the most accessible city in the country for people with hearing loss. Hearing access is available at many of the city’s Broadway theaters, museums, and stadiums. Even the subway information booths/call boxes, as well as the new Taxis of Tomorrow, have hearing access.

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