There’s lots of fun to be had at the NCRA and NCRF booths

PAC and NCRF booths_croppedBe sure to stop by the NCRA membership, NCRA government relations, and the NCRF booths at the 2017 Convention & Expo and take advantage of savings, grab some giveaways, and learn how you can support the court reporting and captioning professions. All three booths will be located at the host hotel, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., on the Mezzanine Level during the Aug. 10-13 event. Below is a sneak peek at what visitors can expect.

At the NCRA membership booth:

  • Take advantage of savings and special offers from more than a dozen carefully selected industry-leading partners from the NCRA Saving Center, the Association’s official member benefits resource
  • Receive an exclusive discount code for NCRA Convention & Expo participants for 20 percent off everything in the NCRA Store
  • Help your personal brand thrive with resources developed specifically to promote court reporters, captioners, and legal videographers
  • Learn about the A-to-Z program and how you can bring it to your area
  • Sign up to do career fairs for high school and middle school students with materials provided by NCRA
  • Sign up to join the Virtual Mentor Program as a mentor or mentee
  • Pick up an NCRA membership brochure to bring home to a colleague
  • Give a video testimonial about why you love court reporting, captioning, and/or legal videography
  • Get a free professional headshot to use for publicity and the NCRA Online Sourcebook
  • Check out this year’s free giveaways
  • And more

At the NCRA government affairs booth:

  • Contribute to NCRA’s Political Action Committee and be automatically entered to win a Fire HD tablet. Help raise $5,000 in PAC contributions and watch 2017-2018 NCRA President Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, and Immediate Past President Nativa P. Wood, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, sing karaoke at the President’s Party
  • Learn more about programs and resources available to train volunteer leadership
  • Find out the latest about legislative and regulatory issues at the federal and state levels
  • Check out this year’s cool giveaways
  • And more

At the NCRF booth:

  • Purchase this year’s official Convention pin, featuring a Magic at Your Fingertips design
  • Pick up official pins from previous Conventions to complete your collection
  • Take a chance to win a one-of-a-kind magically designed Luminex generously donated by Stenograph. Raffle tickets cost $50 each or three for $125
  • Pledge as a 2018 Angel and be entered into a drawing for a week-long stay in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, at the Villa Del Palmar resort, generously donated by Denise Paternoster, RPR, in loving memory of her husband, Frank Paternoster
  • Be part of Convention history and sign the official Convention register
  • And more

MCRA invests in NCRA presentation on protecting the profession

MCRA_2017Matthew Barusch, NCRA’s Manager of State Government Relations, attended the Mississippi Court Reporters Association Annual Conference on April 27 in Biloxi to give a presentation on Protecting the Profession. In his presentation, Barusch outlined some of the issues facing court reporters in the states and discussed how to address these issues in a changing political climate.

“Giving this presentation to the Mississippi Court Reporters Association was truly a wonderful experience,” said Barusch. “This subject is critically important to the future of the profession, and I was honored and grateful to have the opportunity to teach reporters in Mississippi how to build their coalition and act as one to confront the challenges facing them.”

NCRA’s Government Relations staff is available to make presentations on this and other topics at your state convention. Email GovRelations@ncra.org to ask about getting a speaker.

NCRA represented at FCC subcommittee

Two men sit in a hearing at the FCC

Photo by Greg Elin

NCRA’s Matthew Barusch, Manager of State Government Relations, represented the Association at the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) meeting on March 21. NCRA is a representative member of the Video Programming and Technology Transitions subcommittees for a two-year term. This is the second time the Association has served on this committee. Nearly two dozen other parties representing a number of companies, nonprofit organizations, and individual consumers are serving on these subcommittees.

According to Barusch, the Video Programming Subcommittee will issue recommendations on seamless video captioning and video description.

“NCRA will work with the Video Programing Subcommittee to identify issues associated with the transmittal and receipt of captioning and video description files by video programming providers and distributors during the transition from analog to IP communication transmission,” he explained.

The Technology Transitions Subcommittee will examine issues related to real-time text.

“NCRA is thrilled to have the opportunity to provide input on the FCC’s rulemaking regarding this matter. The transition to IP communication transmission presents challenges to members of the captioning community, and I look forward to working with the DAC on addressing these issues,” he added.

The FCC established the DAC in December 2014 to provide advice and recommendations to the Commission on a wide array of disability issues within its jurisdiction. According to the FCC, the DAC provides a means for stakeholders with interests in accessibility issues to exchange ideas, facilitate the participation of consumers with disabilities in proceedings before the FCC, and assist the FCC in educating the greater disability community and American with Disabilities Act-covered entities on disability-related matters. The Committee is expected to keep the FCC apprised of current and evolving communications issues for people with disabilities. Other subcommittees include Communications, Emergency Communications, and Relay/Equipment Distribution.

NCRA re-appointed as representative on FCC Committee

Photo by Greg Elin

Photo by Greg Elin

NCRA has been named to serve a two-year term as a representative member on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Disability Advisory Committee (DAC). The appointment was announced Jan. 5 and marks the second time NCRA has been named as a representative.

NCRA joins nearly two dozen other parties representing a number of companies, nonprofit organizations, and individual consumers serving on DAC’s Technology Transitions and Access to Video Programing subcommittees.

The FCC established the DAC in December 2014 to provide advice and recommendations to the Commission on a wide array of disability issues within its jurisdiction. The DAC is slated to remain active for two years, with meetings of the full committee and four subcommittees to begin next week.

According to the FCC, the DAC provides a means for stakeholders with interests in accessibility issues to exchange ideas, facilitate the participation of consumers with disabilities in proceedings before the Commission, and assist the Commission in educating the greater disability community and American with Disabilities Act-covered entities on disability-related matters. The Committee is expected to keep the Commission apprised of current and evolving communications issues for persons with disabilities. Other subcommittees include Communications, Emergency Communications, and Relay/Equipment Distribution.

Matthew R. Barusch, NCRA’s Manager of State Government Relations, who will represent the Association, said the Access to Video Programming Subcommittee will address televised emergency information, closed captioning, video description, and equipment designed to receive, play back, or record video programming.

“Serving on the second chartered DAC is consistent with NCRA’s appointment on the first charted DAC. This appointment allows NCRA to continue to have a voice in FCC recommendations related to captioning and how it will meet the needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community,” Barusch said.

The first meeting of DAC’s new term is tentatively set for March 21 at the FCC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Additional tentative meeting dates include mid-June and mid-October.

The 2016 election: How the results will affect the profession

Photo by Vox Efx

Photo by Vox Efx

By Matthew Barusch

At long last, this election is over. The American people have cast their ballots, and perhaps the most unique and consequential presidential campaign in recent history has reached its conclusion. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been elected as the 45th President of the United States. President-elect Trump will now prepare to govern with a fully Republican Congress, and for the first time since 2001, the Republican Party will have control of all three branches of government.

The effects of a Trump administration on the court reporting profession are relatively uncertain, partially because uncertainty surrounds his upcoming presidency. Trump will be expected to fulfill numerous promises he made during his campaign, including his policies on immigration, the economy, and foreign affairs. Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will be able to target all of the Obama administration policies that the party has been fighting against for years, including the Affordable Care Act, executive orders on immigration, and energy restrictions on fossil fuels. The vacancy on the Supreme Court will also likely be filled within the first few months. Merrick Garland’s nomination is likely to be tossed aside after Trump’s inauguration in favor of a conservative judge off the list he circulated during his campaign.

With these issues as the primary focus going into Trump’s presidency, issue areas affecting the court reporting profession such as education will likely take a back seat. If and when education is taken up, it will potentially be viewed as an area for budget cuts, which may rule out any new appropriations for court reporting programs.

Trump has also spoken to his desire to make the country safer and improve the country’s infrastructure. A case could be made for the revival of the Local Courthouse Safety Act, particularly in a time where the country is focused on violent shootings and the public is uneasy. In past iterations, the proposed legislation would distribute existing surplus security equipment to local and state courthouses to enhance the security infrastructure of courthouses that lack them. Such legislation would speak to Trump’s campaign promises; however, it is likely that the focus of his administration and the 115th Congress will be on fulfilling his more high-profile pledges.

A broader look at the congressional elections shows that members of Congress who support the court reporting industry have been re-elected on both sides of the aisle in both chambers. In the Senate, Sen. Patty Murray has won re-election in Washington with 61 percent of the vote. Sen. Murray is likely to become Minority Conference Chair in the Senate and remain the ranking member on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which will give NCRA a powerful ally in the Senate minority. In the House, Reps. Hakeem Jeffries in New York, Rodney Davis and John Shimkus in Illinois, Suzan Delbene in Washington, Ron Kind in Wisconsin, and Dennis Ross in Florida all won re-election. As a result, NCRA retains a strong list of allies on important committees, such as the House Judiciary Committee, which are primarily responsible for addressing education issues of import to the profession. There are also some newcomers to Congress this cycle who are likely to support initiative affecting court reporting. One such person is Jimmy Panetta, who won election in California as Representative for the 20th Congressional District.

NCRA will continue to work for the court reporting profession with its allies in the 115th Congress and looks forward to a hopeful and prosperous future ahead.

Matthew Barusch is NCRA’s Manager of State Government Relations. He can be reached at mbarusch@ncra.org.

NCRA members represent captioners at captioning quality meeting

JCRiconOn June 3, several NCRA members, along with NCRA Director of Government Relations Adam Finkel, participated in a caption quality meeting in Washington, D.C. The members were:

  • Carol Studenmund, RDR, CRR, CRC, a broadcast captioner from Portland, Ore., representing LNS Captioning
  • Darlene Parker, RPR, a broadcast captioner from Reston, Va., representing the National Captioning Institute
  • Phil Hyssong, CMRS, a firm owner from Lombard, Ill., representing Alternative Communications Services

In addition, Gerald Freda represented CaptionMax, Heather York and Bob Beyer represented VITAC, Jill Toschi represented the National Captioning Institute, and Quang Pho represented the Media Access Group at WGBH. Other attendees were advocates for the deaf and hard-of-hearing organizations and representatives from the cable and broadcast industry.

The meeting covered the steps that the programming industry and the captioning industry have taken to implement the FCC’s best practices and consumer impressions of caption quality since the best practices have been adopted for both live and prerecorded programming. The captioners pointed out that, in general, they have seen an increase in prep material and audio quality provided to the captioners. Also, in general, more stations have been complying with efforts to prerecord captions for prerecorded content, which allows for higher quality captions for the consumer in regards to placement and accuracy.

Members Jeanette Christian, RDR, CRR, CRC, from Topeka, Kan., and Deanna Baker, RMR, from Flagstaff, Ariz., provided CART captioning for the event.

NCRA submits letter supporting freelance and official court reporters in Arizona

NCRA President Steve Zinone, RPR, submitted a letter on May 20 to the Arizona Supreme Court opposing the proposed petition to amend Rule 30. The letter also supports a previous petition made by the Arizona Court Reporters Association (ACRA). The letter clarified that, even though they are not all full-time employees of the court system, both freelance and official court reporters share the same technical qualifications as well as the same respect for the integrity of the record and the court reporters’ transcript should remain the official court record. The letter echoed ACRA’s suggestion to “implement regulations regarding the archiving and control of the record when the court reporter who is used is not employed by the court.”

Read more.

Online newspaper reprints NCRA advocacy article

An article authored by NCRA Director of Government Relations Adam Finkel, which appeared in the April issue of the JCR, was reprinted in the April 25 issue of AMERICOURT University Prose, an online newspaper that serves the legal community. Finkel’s article, “Legislative Update: The effectiveness of grassroots advocacy,” was reprinted under the politics section of the paper.

Read more.

NCRA submits comments to the FCC on qualified captioners

On March 15, Adam Finkel, NCRA Director of Government Relations, submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission in response to a report filed by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. NCRA’s comments corrected an assumption that there are not enough captioners to cover media markets outside of the top 25. Among other points, Finkel pointed out the availability of training (including NCRA’s new Certified Realtime Captioner certification) and that some captioners are unable to accept work despite being qualified due to the inconsistent transition between POTS lines and the IP lines. “Like the consumer groups and NAB, NCRA shares the goal of ensuring high-quality captioning,” Finkel stated in the comments.

Read more.

Space is filling fast for 2016 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp

NCRA Legislative Boot Camp logoRegister now to join the leaders from more than 40 state affiliates from across the country who are participating in the 2016 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp being held March 20-22 at the Hyatt Regency in Reston, Va. Space for the event, which is sponsored by NCRA’s government relations department, is limited.

Attendees will participate in sessions that include an introduction to politics, grassroots lobbying techniques, effectively communicating with the press, understanding NCRA’s 2016 federal initiatives, building lasting relationships, and what to expect when visiting lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The schedule also includes mock hearings and role-playing exercises, as well as tips on how to promote the profession to external audiences and consumer groups and how to successfully testify before legislators.

Tiva Wood, RDR, CMRS, NCRA President-Elect, a freelance reporter from Mechanicsburg, Pa., has attended the camp twice. “Participants in the NCRA Legislative Boot Camp leave this intensive and very informative event armed with the knowledge and confidence they need to work with their lawmakers to help ensure that issues with a potential impact on the court reporting and captioning professions are addressed swiftly and accurately and in the highest professional manner possible,” she said. “The mock trial and role-playing exercises are extremely beneficial as well for preparing participants for their visits to Capitol Hill.”

Lead presenters will include Adam Finkel, NCRA’s Director of Government Affairs, and Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC, from Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies.

The two-day training culminates with a trip to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., where attendees will have the opportunity to meet with their respective legislators and their professional staff members, and gain experience in lobbying. Attendees will also have the opportunity to attend an event with one of NCRA’s legislative supporters.

During visits with lawmakers, Boot Camp attendees will be encouraged to urge their representatives to reauthorize the Training for Realtime Writers grants under the Higher Education Act passed by Congress in 2009. The Act created a competitive grant program to train realtime writers to provide both captioned information and communication access for the 30 million Americans who are deaf and hard of hearing. Programs established with past grants also aided working reporters in learning and polishing realtime skills.

Registration for the 2016 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp is available online at NCRA.org/bootcamp. The cost is $175 per attendee. For more information, contact Adam Finkel, NCRA Director of Government Relations, at afinkel@ncra.org.