New webinar to help freelancers get organized

NCRA has announced that Rene White Moarefi, RPR, CRR, Houston, Texas, will lead a webinar on June 8 designed to help freelancers get better organized, especially when taking assignments from numerous agencies in any given year. A freelance realtime reporter for 31 years, including covering assignments for a multitude of agencies over the past seven years, White Moarefi will share her system to stay organized when she presents The Organized Freelancer: For the Busy, On-the-Go Freelance Reporter in Today’s Market.

The one-hour webinar, scheduled for June 8 from 7-8 p.m. ET, is available for a cost of $79. Attendees will earn 0.1 CEU.

Tax tips for freelancers and small business owners

March 16 is the deadline for first-quarter taxes for U.S. business owners and freelancers who file quarterly, and April 15 is the deadline for individual tax returns. For small businesses and freelancers, filing taxes can be complicated, and suggestions for deductions should always be run by a tax professional. In the meantime, here are a few ideas to consider.

The ultimate list of freelancer tax deductions

A Jan. 28 post on the Freelancers Union blog describes over a dozen potential tax deductions for freelancers. The author’s points range from the requirements to claim a home office to which form to use when claiming medical care expenses to bank and legal fees that should not be forgotten. Read more.

Christine Phipps of Phipps Reporting, Inc. selected as winner of 2014 Enterprising Women of the Year Award

Enterprising Women magazine recently announced that Christine Phipps, RPR, owner of Phipps Reporting, Inc., in Palm Beach, Fla., was selected as a winner of its 2014 Enterprising Women of the Year Award. Phipps serves as chair of NCRA’s Freelance Reporters Community of Interest and as a member of the association’s Technology Review Committee. She was chosen for the award from a wide array of business women from across the world.

Frequently recognized as a premier awards program for women business owners, this is the 12th year that the publication has selected recipients who have demonstrated not only that they own and manage fast-growing and successful companies, but that they also act as mentors within the business community as well as being actively involved in social and philanthropic endeavors.

“I am absolutely thrilled with this news. I started my company to fill a need and provide the legal market with superior service and experience in court reporting,” said Phipps in a press release.

“Since then, I have concentrated on that goal with a singular passion; to be recognized as a leader in women-owned businesses, and to be associated with so many inspirational women entrepreneurs from across the country, this is overwhelming and a true honor.”

All winners of the award will be recognized at the 2014 Enterprising Women of the Year Awards Celebration and Conference in Sarasota, Fla. from March 2 – 4, 2014. To learn more about the conference, visit www.enterprisingwomen.com.

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NCRA Convention & Expo: Conference Sessions

Seminar_AttendeesEDUCATION OF GREAT IMPORTANCE TO COURT REPORTERS

For many reporters, NCRA’s Convention & Expo is not only a great way to catch up with colleagues but the premier opportunity to learn new skills and track emerging trends in the profession. Attendees at this year’s event experienced a jam-packed educational schedule that not only covered a wide range of topics but also delivered the information in various styles and with best-in-class presenters. In addition to the sessions highlighted below, convention attendees also had the opportunity to learn about Cloud storage, wireless set-ups, punctuation, stadium captioning, and much more.

THE INTERNET IS A CAPTIONER’S BEST FRIEND

Attendees explored the value of the Internet and how best to leverage its unlimited resources at this interactive session led by seasoned court reporter, captioner, and CART provider Alan Peacock from Mobile, Ala. Participants were encouraged to join the conversation and tweet their ideas before, during, and after the session, as they explored the endless search sites available online, including YouTube, news sites, and specialized sites that can accurately identify an unfamiliar term, song lyrics, and even the correct pronunciation of the name of a public figure such as a politician or an athlete. Attendees also learned how to setup a wireless hotspot to ensure quick access to the Internet no matter where they’re working.

A FUTURIST LOOKS AT THE FREELANCER

Changes in economic conditions, the advancement of technology, and evolving trends that are often viewed as threats just as often lead to opportunities, according to Adam D. Miller, RPR, CRI, CLVS, a freelance court reporter who has worked for a decade in Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del. In his presentation, “A Futurist Looks at the Freelancer,” Miller provided several examples of changing times once perceived as threats, such as the launch of the Internet, that have ultimately created opportunities for the court reporting profession. Once feared, the Internet is now relied on instead of a telephone book, a dictionary, and other once-popular resources. In addition, the Internet has led to court reporters being able to stream live video and audio and conduct deposition work where parties are no longer required to be in the same location. A current threat to the court reporting profession is the declining number of public sector jobs, warned Miller. But he advised attendees to seize the opportunity in the threat and work to identify new areas to which they can bring their unique skills as freelance reporters.

SEARCH DOGS

SearchDogs

What does a court reporter have in common with a search dog? “A nose for truth, acute hearing, and swift paws. No bones about it,” said Chris Bergquist of the Sacramento Fire Department. The Search Dog Foundation, based in southern California, takes in difficult-to-place stray dogs and trains them to find live human survivors of catastrophic events. During their presentation, search dogs Elvis and Kari demonstrated some of their techniques by finding a child hidden in a tube and climbing along difficult surfaces. “They know it’s real life; they know it’s serious. The dog will not quit,” said Elvis’ handler, Chet Clark of the Oklahoma Task Force 1 team. The search dogs provided the demonstration at NCRA’s convention in honor of Atlanta court reporter Julie Brandau, who was shot and killed in her own courtroom. In her memory, the Julie Brandau Community Service Memorial Project partnered with the Search Dog Foundation because of Julie’s life-long love of dogs. To date, the project has raised more than $80,000 for the Search Dog Foundation.

TEACHING AND MENTORING: THE KEYS TO THE FUTURE OF THE PROFESSION

A panel of educators and NCRA board members led a lively discussion of how individual court reporters can do their part to help attract, retain, and train court reporting students to ensure the profession remains healthy and viable. Nativa P. Wood, RDR, CMRS, an NCRA board member and official court reporter with the Dauphin County Court of Common Please, Harrisburg, Pa., provided an overview of the work of NCRA’s Vision for Educational Excellence Task Force. Its goal is to help invigorate and promote the court reporting profession. In addition, NCRA Vice President Glyn Poage, RDR, CRR, a court reporter from Helotes, Texas, noted that court reporting students view working court reporters as walking success stories and offered a number of suggestions on how NCRA members can better support court reporting schools and students. Also on the panel were Kay Moody, CRI, MCRI, CPE, director of education for the College of Court Reporting, who offered insights into recruiting and training tomorrow’s court reporting professionals, and Jeff Moody, CRI, president of the College of Court Reporting, who explained the certification process at the state and national levels, as well as NCRA certifications.

BRINGING CART TO YOUR COMMUNITY

With the help of local closed captioner and CART provider Karyn D. Menck, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, the Hearing Loss Association of America Nashville Chapter has successfully brought CART and captioning technology to a variety of community sites including live theater, leisure and recreational activities, educational events, and religious venues. Menck, owner of Nashville-based Tennessee Captioning, and Kate Driskill Kanies, president of the HLAA Nashville Chapter and state coordinator for Tennessee, shared their experiences with an ongoing promotion of captioning services, as well as tips on how to launch a similar effort at the local level. The speakers also explored with attendees how to obtain grant funding for equipment and software to provide the services, and how to create a successful blueprint that will lead local venues to collaborate with captioners and CART providers on a onetime, free trial basis, to help determine if such services are needed.

SECURING THE COURT: SAFETY TIPS FOR OFFICIAL COURT REPORTERS

In recent years, the U.S. Marshals Service has seen an increase in violence in courthouses. In a presentation designed to educate court reporters and members of the court family about safety and security, John Shell, senior inspector for the U.S. Marshals Service, provided attendees with valuable tips and best security practices, such as coping in an active shooter situation, recognizing an active shooter in the vicinity, and following evacuation plans. In addition, Shell gave his insights into best practices for responding to law officials when they arrive at a the scene of a shooting, training tips for keeping staff safe in violent situations, and precautions to take to help to prevent violent crime from happening in a courthouse.

BEST PRACTICES FOR CAPTIONING QUALITY

An interactive panel that included Carol Studenmund, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, Amy Bowlen, RDR, CRR, CBC, Darlene Parker, RPR, and NCRA’s Assistant Director of Government Relations Adam Finkel led a discussion on the issues behind providing the captioning services that allow all individuals to have access to news broadcasts, sporting events, entertainment, and other television programming. Frequently cited was “Captioning Matters: Best Practices,” a working document that outlines NCRA proposals to ensure that broadcast captioners, captioning companies, and video programming distributors are providing the most accurate, understandable, and timely captions for the end user. The best practices project specifi cally covers live, realtime captions rather than captions created in the post-production phase of video production. Currently, postproduction captions are expected to be 100 percent accurate with no exceptions. However, for live realtime or near-realtime captions, 100 percent accuracy is not a reasonable expectation. According to the panel, in October 2010, the Federal Communications Commission found that 70 percent of all complaints regarding captioning involved transmission errors. Despite the need to address these errors and how they unfairly affect accuracy rates, the panel encouraged captioners to hold themselves accountable to provide the most complete, factual, and accurate captions possible.

BRIEFING ON THE FLY FOR FASTER WRITING

Kimi George, RMR, a freelance reporter specializing in medical malpractice depositions, and author of the book Flip Over Briefs, encouraged audience participation in a session that examined the differences between left brain and right brain and asked whether court reporters are more right or left brain dominated. George told attendees that she believes reporters use both sides of their brain because they use their critical thinking (left side of the brain) to determine that they need a brief, followed by their creative thinking (right side of the brain) to create a shorter outline or a brief. Some reporters are better at briefi ng than others, according to George, because they have successfully trained their brains to create new outlines quickly. Because the brain is a muscle, George told the audience that they too could enhance their skills by training their brains and offered tips and strategies for creating new outlines faster, including practicing consistency in briefs, making main briefs the same every time before adding endings, and keeping things simple. She also suggested leaving out vowels and provided additional tips for writing medial briefs.

Featured seminars from the NCRA 2013 Convention & Expo in Nashville are available at NCRA.org/eseminars. Search in the “2013 Convention Nashville” category for more information.

South Carolina hires private court reporters to prevent court cancellations

An article in the Sept. 15 Augusta [S.C.] Tribune reported that the state’s courts have been hiring private court reporters to prevent court cancellations. The need is a result of the addition of nine judges in the family and circuit courts as well as a number of court reporter vacancies across the state that have gone unfilled. According to the article, the private reporters have worked in Aiken, Lexington, Richland, and York counties, and court was canceled in Aiken County for two days when the state did not provide a reporter.

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Secrets of Success – Matthew Dreger: Advocate and keep your skills current

Matthew A. DregerMatthew A. Dreger has been in the field since the late 1970s, beginning his career as a freelancer followed by 27 years as an official court reporter. Although he is now retired from the Third Judicial Circuit Court in Wayne County, Mich., he spent more than three decades in the court reporting profession. He is also a past president of the Michigan Association of Professional Court Reporters, where he held this important position from 2001-2002. Dreger, who makes Mount Clemens, Mich., his home, offers great insight and advice on how to be successful in this ever-changing profession.

What traits have contributed to your success?

Drive. Desire for the better things in life and the wish to retire early in life. Being one of the two first computerized court reporters in the 36th District Court in Detroit in 1986 and one of the two realtime official court reporters in the Recorder’s/ Circuit Court in Detroit in the 1990s led to a very successful career path.

How has the court reporting business changed over the past years?

When I was a freelancer in the late 1970s, you dictated, you had several typists to keep up with the work load, and you were up all night. With the advent of realtime and the improvement in skills that comes from that style of writing, I no longer needed any assistance to keep up with my transcript load in one of the busiest courthouses in the United States. With realtime, the job became self-contained, no longer subject to other people’s scheduling problems, and, of course, expedited transcripts were no longer the work-intensive transcripts they once were.

What type of skill set is needed to be successful?

The skill set most necessary is the desire to advance yourself, your professional abilities, and job quality through software, writers, Bluetooth, e-trans, realtime, rough draft. Keeping your skills current makes you the most marketable of all reporters.

What role does technology play in being successful, and how does technology affect the court reporting business?

Technology took court reporting from a well-paying drudgery profession to a stateof- the-art profession that allows attorneys to have their products in a timeframe unmatched by any other type of reporting.

How will technology affect the future of the business, and what does a reporter need to do/focus on when that happens?

Technology has allowed our profession to develop into several new career paths, and reporters need to focus on the type of career path they are interested in. After your basic skills are developed, CART, realtime reporting as a freelancer or official, and/or closed captioning are focus areas that allow reporters to choose a profession that is more in sync with their lifestyles and family needs. Again, being a standout in the crowd with your skill set will give you a huge advantage.

How important is networking to building business and become successful?

Extremely.

Can you provide some examples of good networking that could help court reporters?

Knowing your legislators and keeping in contact with those who make the laws/statues, etc., that govern reporters is integral to our future. That contact must occur on a regular basis and not just when there is a crisis or change that will impact the court reporting profession.

What would be the best advice (or pieces of advice) you could give a student who is about to enter the field?

Students should do their best to pay attention to rules, regulations, and office procedures where they work. Do a good job. Turn out your transcripts in a timely fashion. Continue your certification process. Keep your software up to date, and enjoy the financial rewards that come from a profession that allows you flexibility.

What type of advice would you give to an established court reporter who is considering getting out of the field due to changes in the business?

What changes could be so drastic that you would want to leave this field? You have multiple career paths open to you. If you are a reporter with the skills and certifications looked for in our field, the only thing you need to do is understand changes and go with the flow. You do not want to find yourself in the same place as many auto companies because “that’s the way we have always done it!” We have gone from the pen writer to the manual machine writer, then on to the electric machine writer, to the computerized machine writer, and on to the realtime writer, the CART provider, and the closed caption writer. And through all those reinventions and new ways of doing steno writing, we have heard you will be replaced by tape recording, digital recording, etc. We have evolved. We are still here. We can still do it faster, better, and the most accurately. We are technology. Don’t leave the business; evolve with the business.

Where do you see the court reporting profession going in the future? And what do reporters need to do to prepare for that?

I see court reporting remaining a vibrant profession. I see court reporting career paths continuing to blossom and allowing stenographic writers choices. I see court reporting becoming a truly IT business profession with high pay and importance. To prepare for this future, NCRA, state associations, state certifications, continuing education, education, and relationship building with decision makers, stake holders, education of the members of the legal field, the television industry, and educational industry of what we can provide, what we do provide, and how we can assist them all in the furtherance of their own professions is of the highest priority. We must advocate. We must maintain our skills. We must have the skills we profess.

Do you want to nominate someone for the “Secrets of Success” series? Send your pick into the JCR’sWriter/Editor, Linda Smolkin, at lsmolkin@ncra.org.

Let’s get personal!

Throughout my 18 years of freelancing, I have often heard freelance reporters express their feelings of loneliness and isolation from other reporters due to the nature of the freelance world. Some of us work 100 percent from our home offices, covering for several different firms and/or agencies. We don’t have an office environment to enable us to interact with other reporters. Others who work with a specific firm do not always have their jobs at the office, and even when they do, many times they still do not have the opportunity to interact with other reporters. Some firms will call the reporters into the office for an occasional group meeting or perhaps plan a social function, but those could be few and far between.

Of course, in this fast-paced electronic world we live in, there are all the social networking outlets to turn to, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. But I’m here to advocate for all of us to make an effort to get out in the real world and let’s get personal! We all have so much to offer one another, and it’s not something that you can get staring at a computer screen.

I believe the need for networking and socializing with peers in person is vital to our own well-being. Science even says there are eight good reasons to be socially engaged: immune system, blood pressure, brain health and memory, physical activity, depression, pain, nutrition, and relationships. We humans are hardwired to crave and rely on human contact. Unlike, for example, a turtle, which hatches from a buried egg and is on its own from that moment on, people depend on other people for survival. Just as humans have a built-in desire for food, water, and sleep, we also have a deep need to connect with other people. Remember the scene in the movie Cast Away where Tom Hanks, marooned on a deserted island, creates a “companion” by drawing a face on a volleyball that has drifted ashore? Yikes!

So close that computer lid, and get out there and look your fellow reporter friends in the eyes! Round up a group and meet for dinner, or plan a study group to meet once a month to swap war stories, briefs, and software issues. I love it when my own groupies will get together at Christmas time, gift exchange and all, and inevitably the talk will turn to “shop talk.” We all crave it and love it! You’ll love what you can learn, all while having a great time.

Stadium Captioning

Stadium CaptioningIn the past few years, advocates for hearing accessibility have made gains in sports venues. Today, many major league and college stadiums regularly offer captioning of in-stadium announcements for sporting events. Here, we talk to three captioners who provide captioning of stadium events. In some cases, the captioners will work in the stadium, and in others, they provide captions through a remote connecton. The set-ups for viewing captions vary from stadium to stadium, as well, with displays on JumboTron, LED boards, and Daktronics boards, not to mention on handheld devices and in-stadium televisions.

Want to learn more? Read on.

Do you have to like sports to do stadium captioning? Which sports do you prefer?

Larry Driver: I don’t think you have to like sports, but it surely helps. I would have to say my preference would be basketball just because it’s faster paced. Football time is like “dog years”… two minutes on the game clock can seem like hours.

Jen Bonfilio: I don’t think you have to like sports to do stadium captioning, but it sure helps, and if you do like sports, then work becomes play!

My preference for sports stadium captioning is [because it’s] completely different from broadcast sports captioning. Prep is one factor that is basically the same for both, but if you caption for the same stadium/ team during a season, then you only have to prep the opposing team each game. With broadcast sports captioning, the broadcasters speak very rapidly, and, depending on the pace of the action, it could affect the speed of the speakers. Therefore, basketball and hockey can be challenging.

Stadium captioning is completely different. The PA announcer “calls” each play in football, tennis, and basketball, but it could be one sentence delivered slowly and calmly (in football) and the play-call is spaced out with seconds or minutes between each one. Basketball PA announcers are a bit more colorful and like to strettttttttch out players’ names as they score a basket and, again, only announce when a basket has been made. In baseball, there is no play-call during the game. The captioner can sit back and wait until three outs are called and the teams are switching sides. At that time, for the duration of a commercial break for those at home, announcements are made regarding refreshments, safety information, ticketing information, as well as sponsor commercials. Sprinkled in with those types of announcements may be prerecorded video spots, many of which include dense sports material.

Lisa Davis: No, I suppose you don’t, but it would make your day go by much, much slower. I prefer football and baseball.

How many hours does it take for you to prepare for one game? How do you prepare? Are you given scripts?

Driver: It really depends on the game. College football takes the longest to do the research. The rosters are incredibly long with lots of difficult names. And just how many ways can you spell “Darren”? Prescripting the announcer “reads” is a must. The sponsor announcements are usually very fast and chock full of proper names, numbers, etc. In addition, there are always lots of pregame, halftime, and post-game announcements with proper names. Much of the scripted material repeats, albeit sometimes in a different sequence for every game. Once I’ve created the first script of the season, I find it usually takes about an hour to edit the script for subsequent games.

MetLife Stadium

Bonfilio: I visit the team’s website and copy/paste rosters, stats, or box scores from a recent game so I know who the key players are, coaches, front office staff, stadium name, and history, and then I repeat the process for the opposing team. As outlined above, I put all of this information into a Word document to make it pretty and big enough so I can prop it up in front of me on game day.

Scripts are usually provided on the same day of the game. I either copy/paste from the script into my captioning software or “write” from my steno machine the pertinent “blurbs” to create a script file in my software. Then I insert “slug lines” (script commands) and format them with terminal punctuation and other captioning related style requirements.

For ongoing jobs, the “blurbs” are repeated each time with some “blurbs” changing slightly. Once the script has been created in my captioning software the first time, then each game day, I go through and compare the provided script with my script and make any necessary changes.

Davis: Anywhere from two to six hours. I go around to the various departments and get everything I need: music, sponsors, timed outlines.

Are we given scripts? Yes! Always, yes!

What exactly do you caption? PA announcements, music, everything? Are there some things that don’t get captioned?

Driver: We caption all announcer reads. We usually do not caption music with the exception of the National Anthem or other music we may have been provided prior to the event. Captioning of stadium events also usually includes the locker room interviews after the game.

Bonfilio: In the past, it was everything except music or, in some cases, just the National Anthem and perhaps a couple of other patriotic songs; however, a recent legal decision has required stadiums to caption all music. It should be noted, though, when captioning remotely, oftentimes the music being played in the stadium is not being piped through our audio feed. So if we can’t hear it, we can’t caption it.

But one job I worked on last year on site comes to mind; we captioned more music than sports action. Captioning musical lyrics can be as challenging as captioning sports. Therefore, captioners must make sure they are very skilled in this area before attempting to work in a stadium environment.

Davis: In one venue, I caption everything. At my other venue, I caption only sponsors, commercials, and lineups. Are there some things that don’t get captioned? I am instructed not to caption while the batters are in the box. The policy is very strict on this; apparently it’s a Major League Baseball thing.

Do you caption onsite at the stadium or remotely?

Driver: Initially we captioned onsite, but over the past couple of years, it’s been all remote. For some special events, such as the All-Star Game, we will still try to go onsite.

Bonfilio: Both.

Davis: Both for me. For football, I am onsite. For baseball, I am remote.

What method do you use to provide the text? Do you output to an encoder, an Internet platform, a Daktronics board? If you output to a Daktronics board, can you explain what that is?

Driver: We display captions a number of ways, including open captions displayed on JumboTron and realtime text using StreamText or a direct IP route to JumboTrons or handheld devices.

Bonfilio: Daktronics boards are the large LED boards, sometimes referred to as ribbon boards, located in stadiums. An operator can manipulate the text and colors that appear on the boards, whether it’s our captioning or sponsor logos. These boards can be scoreboards as well. Think about the signage you see on the highway with large amber text alerting you to a traffic jam ahead or an Amber Alert.

I have provided captioning in the stadium environment through an encoder onsite to Daktronics boards. I have provided captioning through iCap (Internet encoder) to handheld devices. And our company has delivered captioning remotely through an encoder as well as modem-to-modem connections to Daktronics boards.

Davis: For the stadium, I output to a Windows handheld mobile device as well as to all flat panel televisions. For the ballpark, I output only to the Daktronics board. On this question, I’m still learning. All I know of the Dak board is that it is a huge digital board that I share with the billboards, and my captions are the bottom two lines of the board and it does not like music notes at all. Boo!

Are you isolated in your location if you’re onsite at the stadium? Is it a quiet environment? Are you bombarded with fan noise?

Driver: When we captioned onsite at Arizona State University, we were in the control room. It was extremely chaotic and noisy. Space was also a real issue, with barely enough room for a laptop, cables snaking around our legs, and scripts on a music stand. There are disadvantages to remote captioning, but you can’t beat the peace and quiet of your own work space. When open captioning to an encoder or directly to a JumboTron over IP, we’ve found installing a SlingBox so we can actually see what is happening on the screen to be invaluable.

Bonfilio: It depends on the stadium. One stadium in which I worked, I was located in the same booth as the PA announcer and one other person. There was relatively little noise. At another stadium, I was in what’s called the “Radio Bullpen,” which is where the folks who give regular updates to their radio stations were housed. This room got very loud at times, especially when the German fellow sitting very close to us would record his updates (in German!).

It is not uncommon for stadium personnel to “stick” the captioner in the control room, which is full of people, including the director, all talking (and shouting) in the ordinary course of their business. I strongly encourage captioners to discourage this room as an option. Not only is it noisy, but space is very limited, and you really need to spread out and have room for your equipment, including a backup system, typist stands with rosters, and personal items. Yes, I have to have my box of tissues and hand cream, as well as extra cables, adaptors, notebooks, folders, AC adaptors to charge all my equipment and gadgets, steno machine and laptop cases, not to mention a lunch box with probably two or three meals. There is no time to go out to get something to eat, and you may be there for a good number of hours. For regular gigs, you’re essentially moving in!

I always wear noise-cancelling headphones whether working onsite or remotely, so that minimizes the noise quite a bit. For remote work, there is absolutely nothing else on the line except the voice of the PA announcer or, in the case of football, the referee. The crowd noise hasn’t been a factor at all for me, which is the complete opposite when you’re captioning sports on television, especially basketball! Sometimes you cannot hear the broadcasters at all because of the fan noise.

Davis: Mine is semi-private. I am in a suite, so I have the option of leaving my door open or closed, but it is a heavy, insulated door. So if it is open, I get the “experience,” but if it is closed and my headset is on, I don’t hear any outside noises at all.

Do you caption the fan noise?

Driver: No, we usually do not hear the fan noise. We only hear when the announcer’s mic is open or the referee makes a call.

Bonfilio: Since I can’t hear it remotely, no. But if the situation calls for it onsite, I have, for example, during player introductions.

Davis: I do, and sometimes “it ain’t pretty.”

What do you do if you can’t hear because of the fan noise?

Bonfilio: As I said, it’s really not an issue for me, but if it ever were, my stock answer for anything that interferes with doing the job when there’s no control of a situation: Do the best you can.

Davis: I usually put up generic parenthetical with relation to that specifically.

Do you have a visual of the game? If so, is it on a monitor, or can you see the field?

Driver: Not always. If the game is being broadcast, I will always tune in to watch. It certainly helps to have the visual cues.

Bonfilio: At one stadium, I had a clear, unobstructed view of the field. At another stadium, I had a monitor, but toward the end of my time there, when the German guy left, I moved up to his seat on the final day and was able to see the court. For remote work, the answer is no; however, one of our clients is working on getting us video of just the Daktronics boards for the upcoming season so we can monitor our captions.

Davis: I am unable to directly view the field and be sound-proofed at the same time, so I have four flat-panel LCD TVs that are huge, and I can see anything anywhere at any time. I actually see more than the fans! All the behind-the-scenes nitty gritty!

How do you get your audio feed? Do you have to bring the equipment, or does the stadium provide it?

Driver: When onsite, we’ve encountered both. I always bring an amplifier and headphones. I recently acquired an amp made by Rolls. It has almost every kind of input jack one could ever need, and it has five headphone outputs, each with individual volume controls. A true life saver when multiple captioners are on the same event.

Bonfilio: The stadium provides the audio equipment (hybrid coupler), which delivers the audio feed to the captioner, whether onsite or remotely.

Davis: The stadium provides my audio setup for me including my own headset. They stressed over what kind of headset to get me for comfort, functionality, and clarity.

TEAM PLAYERS

Jennifer BonfilioJennifer Bonfilio began her court reporting career in 1984, working as a freelance reporter for several agencies in New Jersey. She started providing CART in 1994, when she was asked to help a student at Princeton University. In 1999, Jennifer started captioning, and in 2001, she started her own business, NJCaptions. In 2010, she formed a new company, Coast 2 Coast Captioning (c2cc) that provides remote and on-site stadium captioning and CART services throughout the United States and Canada

 

Lisa DavisLisa Davis, CBC, of Lavon, Texas, the owner of Lone Star Captioning, Inc., has also earned CART Level II certifications in Texas. She has been captioning since 1995 and providing CART services since 1997. She currently provides captioning, CART and remote CART, web streams, and live on-site and live remote captioning in venues including convention centers, stadiums, hotels, colleges, event centers, and TV stations.

 

Larry DriverLarry Driver, RDR, CRR, CBC, began his reporting career as a freelancer in Phoenix, Ariz., in 1977. In 1986, while attending an NCRA Annual Convention, Larry learned about closed captioning. After two years of “reprogramming his shorthand theory,” he won a contract to caption the nightly news for a local NBC affiliate. Shortly thereafter, he was approached to caption all Phoenix Suns broadcasts. In the late 1990s, he took on his first stadium captioning assignments for the Arizona State University Sun Devils and Arizona Cardinals. Larry now works with several other captioners to provide stadium captioning services to both teams. In addition to stadium captioning, his company, Closed Caption Productions, provides realtime captioning for television broadcastsers, webcasts, remote and on-site CART, and offline captioning/subtitling.