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.

 

Gear up for the NCRA Legislative Boot Camp

State affiliates gear up for 2016 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp

State affiliates from across the country are making plans to participate in the 2016 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp being held March 20-22 at the Hyatt Regency in Reston, Va. The event is sponsored by NCRA’s government relations department.

The schedule for this year’s event will include seminars on the political climate on a state and national level, as well as ways to promote the profession to external audiences and consumer groups. Attendees will also be trained how to testify before legislators, partake in rigorous roleplaying exercises, and receive an intensive overview of the current legislative and regulatory issues at hand. The two-day training culminates with a trip to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., where attendees will have the opportunity to walk through the building, meet with their respective legislators and their professional staff members, and gain experience in lobbying. Attendees will also have the opportunity to attend a political fundraiser for one of NCRA’s major supporters.

“The NCRA Legislative Boot Camp is one of the most important benefits of membership in the Association because it provides training in the skills needed to successfully advocate and participate in the legislative and regulatory processes when issues in either of those arenas arise that could hinder or help the future of the court reporting and captioning professions,” said NCRA President Stephen A. Zinone, RPR, an official court reporter from Pittsford, N.Y.

“If you are in the business of making the record and preserving history or providing valuable captioning services to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, then you are in the business of protecting our profession,” said Zinone.

Online registration is now open for the 2016 Legislative Boot Camp 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.

‘Tis the season for giving back to the profession

The holiday season is the perfect time to support the mission of NCRA’s Political Action Committee and help ensure the future of the court reporting and captioning professions.

Since its establishment in 1981, the NCRA PAC works hard on behalf of members by supporting candidates for federal office who promote and advance court reporting and captioning.

The NCRA PAC also works to build relationships in Congress to advance the profession’s interests on a national level. Through the personal and financial investments of its members, the NCRA PAC provides an opportunity to more effectively petition lawmakers for the prosperity, promotion, and long-term success of the court reporting and captioning professions.

The NCRA PAC is important to the initiatives that the Association is pursuing on Capitol Hill. The PAC is the association’s and the members’ direct lifeline to the legislative community that will decide the outcome of NCRA’s initiatives in Congress. Having a presence on Capitol Hill is critical when working to promote the profession on the national level, and the NCRA PAC is an important vehicle through which the Association can deliver NCRA’s message to Congress for our 25,000 members.

Giving to the NCRA PAC is easy. Donors must be a U.S. citizen to contribute, use only a personal check or credit card, and be either a member of NCRA or the spouse of a member.  Individual contributors may donate up to $5,000 per year to NCRA’s PAC, while married couples each have separate contribution limits. For the complete set of giving guidelines and a contribution form, visit NCRA’s Government Relations page at NCRA.org.

NCRA represents captioners at FCC meeting

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Carol Studenmund and Heather York on the FCC panel

On Nov. 10, the Federal Communications Commission hosted a roundtable on closed captioning of PEG programming. PEG stands for public, educational, and governmental television channels. Carol Studenmund, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, a broadcast captioner and president of LNS Captioning in Portland, Ore., was in attendance representing the interests of broadcast captioners, along with Heather York, vice president of marketing at VITAC.

The roundtable discussion focused on captioning standards and best practices for PEG providers, as well as the importance of both quality captioning and captioners. Participants also discussed creative strategies to get local captioning covered by larger government entities. Many PEG stations cover public content such as city council meetings and operate on a smaller scale. Educational content, however, also needs to be captioned to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Carol Studenmund and Mary Beth Henry from the Office of Community Technology for the City of Portland

“It was an honor to represent NCRA at the FCC to talk about captioning for local government programming,” said Studenmund. “Providing access to government at all levels is a vital service for our community. All people, regardless of disabilities, deserve to be able to participate in their government affairs. Captioning helps make that happen for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.”

The agenda for the roundtable is available on the FCC website.

NCRA cosponsors forum and reception focused on preventing hearing loss

Rep. Mike Thompson, Rep. David McKinley, and Andy Bopp, HIA, at the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus reception

(From left) Rep. Mike Thompson, Rep. David McKinley, and Andy Bopp, HIA

On Oct. 21, NCRA joined more than 150 Congressional staffers, hearing advocates, and guests at a screening reception hosted by the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus. The event, which was held at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., included hearing screenings by hearing health professionals and earbud-noise testing sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

About 50 attendees had their hearing screened and ears checked by volunteer audiologists, hearing-aid dispensers, and otolaryngologists. Professionals were also on hand to provide advice about preventing hearing loss and options available to those who have experienced hearing loss.

“NCRA is privileged to be a part of events such as this forum sponsored by the FCHHC. Raising awareness of how consumers can protect their hearing through screenings and understand that there are options available to assist them in improving their quality of life with hearing loss is a vital service this Congressional Hearing Health Caucus provides,” said NCRA’s Director of Government Relations Adam Finkel.

The Congressional caucus aims to broaden support and knowledge of hearing health-care issues within Congress and provide an educational setting for discussion of issues related to hearing health. Honorary co-hosts of the event were Reps. David McKinley (W.Va.) and Mike Thompson (Calif.).

In remarks to attendees, Rep. Thompson noted that hearing health is an important element of overall health care and that it is critical to address hearing loss early to avoid negative impacts on a person’s learning and earning potential.

In addition, Rep. McKinley noted the importance of following up on passage of HR1344, the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention bill, which was passed by the House in September and is now being considered by the Senate.

In addition to NCRA, other Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus include: A.G. Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Academy of Doctors of Audiology; American Academy of Audiology; American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery; American Cochlear Implant Alliance; American Speech-Language Hearing Association; Hearing Network Alliance; International Hearing Society; National Association of the Deaf; Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf; and Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

To learn more about the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Caucus, contact Adam Finkel at afinkel@ncra.org.

NCRA, captioning vendors submit comments on FCC caption quality best practices

Photo by Greg Elin

Photo by Greg Elin

On Sept. 3, NCRA and several captioning vendors submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission on three issues connected to the implementation of the caption quality best practices. The comments specifically addressed preparation materials, high quality audio signals, and captioning for prerecorded programming. The captioning vendors who signed the comments along with NCRA were: Alternative Captioning Services, Caption Colorado, CaptionMax, LNS Captioning, Media Captioning Services, Paradigm Reporting and Captioning, VITAC, and The Media Access Group at WGBH.

Read the comments

NCRA urges sponsorship of legislation critical to aiding courts in recovering funding

In a letter sent June 24, NCRA President Sarah E. Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CBC, urged Sen. John Thune to become an original sponsor of the Crime Victim Restitution and Court Fee Intercept Act. The legislation would allow for interception of individuals’ federal income tax returns to pay for existing court fees that the individual may owe.

In the letter, Nageotte notes that the concept already exists in federal law as related to child support, state tax, and other federal debts. She said the legislation would have a tremendous and immediate impact on court budgets nationwide and would help to alleviate many of the stresses that have accumulated within the court systems since the late-2000s.

Read more.

NCRA cosponsors luncheon focused on improving outcomes for children with hearing issues

On June 11, NCRA joined a number of organizations to cosponsor a briefing luncheon hosted by the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus. The luncheon, which was held at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., featured experts discussing programs that are designed to improve outcomes for children who are born deaf or hard of hearing.

Rep. David McKinley addresses the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus

Rep. David McKinley addresses the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus

The Congressional caucus, which aims to broaden support and knowledge of hearing health care issues within Congress and provide an educational setting for discussion of issues related to hearing health, is chaired by both Reps. David McKinley and Mike Thompson. Reps. McKinley and Thompson both served as honorary hosts of the event.

Speakers at the luncheon event included Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, and Dana Suskind, M.D., Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medicine.

“NCRA has long supported the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus and appreciates the value it brings to the constituents and stakeholders of the many organizations that support it,” said Adam Finkel, NCRA’s Director of Government Relations.

“NCRA looks forward to continuing to be an active friend of the group and bringing awareness to lawmakers and the public about the many issues that surround broadcast and CART captioning, hearing health, and issues that affect individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing,” he added.

Rep. Lois Capps addresses the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus

Rep. Lois Capps addresses the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus

The briefing focused on efforts to follow-up with children who are born deaf or hard of hearing to ensure the best outcome possible. Dr. Fitzgerald examined Georgia’s Early Hearing Detection & Intervention follow-up programs, while Dr. Suskind spoke about the 30 Million Words initiative, which she founded to focus on the importance of early exposure to language.

Newborn hearing screening programs have been implemented in all 50 states with funding provided by Congress through the Early Hearing Detection & Intervention program that was first authorized in 2000. EHDI programs include hearing screenings at birth, diagnostic evaluations to confirm hearing status, and early intervention including medical services, early intervention programs, and family support. When EHDI was first approved in 2000, only 44 percent of newborns had their hearing screened; however, the implementation of EHDI nationwide has resulted in nearly universal hearing screening at birth with 98 percent of newborns screened. Reps. Brett Guthrie and Lois Capps have introduced legislation (HR1344) to reauthorize EHDI this year.

In addition to NCRA, other Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus include: A.G. Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Academy of Doctors of Audiology; American Academy of Audiology; American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery; American Cochlear Implant Alliance; American Speech-Language Hearing Association; Hearing Network Alliance; International Hearing Society; National Association of the Deaf; Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf; and Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. To learn more about the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Caucus, contact Adam Finkel at afinkel@ncra.org.

NCRA and others call on FCC to address accuracy of captions

On June 8, NCRA was one of several organizations that jointly submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission that address the agency’s rules regarding appropriate methodology and metrics for assessing the accuracy of captions. The groups also reiterated their willingness to work with the Commission to help improve the quality of closed captions. The comments were submitted by the University of Colorado’s Clinical Legal Education Program on behalf of the group. NCRA was one of 10 organizations to sign the comments.

Read more.

State leaders learn the ropes in Denver, Colo.

State leaders from around the country joined NCRA Board of Director members and staff during the 2015 NCRA State Leadership Conference held April 12-13 in Denver, Colo. During the conference, attendees learned more about how the national association can aid and benefit their own organizations in supporting the court reporting, captioning, and legal videography professions.

The conference, which is hosted every other year by NCRA, provides attendees with sessions that cover an array of issues and topics such as effective lobbying, public relations and media outreach, recruiting and retaining members, and more. This year’s event drew leadership from 29 states.

“This year’s conference was an incredibly successful event. NCRA’s state associations left with the tools they need to help improve their associations’ membership, government relations, public relations, meetings, and much more,” said Adam Finkel, NCRA’s Director of Government Relations. “Just as important, the networking opportunities let the leadership from state associations work on similar issues together, allowing for a higher likelihood of success.”

Among the presentations at this year’s conference were a session presented by Finkel and Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC, from Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies, who serves as a consultant for NCRA. The interactive session included an overview of the current status of the court reporting profession and the sharing of strategies and tactics that have proven successful in recruiting more court reporters to join their state associations. Recruiting and cultivating new leaders and committee members was addressed in a session led by Kristin Anderson, RPR, and Linda McSwain, RPR, co-chairs of the National Committee of State Associations. The two former state leaders shared with attendees ideas and tips that worked for them to increase involvement in their state associations.

State leaders in attendance also were provided a review of the Association 101 Handbook, developed as a resource to provide them with a strong understanding of what tools, tips, and resources are available to assist them. Wendel Stewart, CAE, NCRA Senior Director of Finance And Administration, and Jeffrey Altman, NCRA’s general counsel and a partner with Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, LLC, also led a session that shared best practices for governing and managing state associations while ensuring legal compliance.

Other sessions covered NCRA’s 2015 public policy agenda and information about how state associations can become involved, tips for developing content and planning effective meetings, and strategies for successful networking.

Christina Lewellen, MBA, NCRA’s Senior Director for Marketing and Communications, led a session that covered the tools and resources available to state associations to promote the profession via the Take Note campaign, the value of good public relations, and how to deal with the media.

NCRA President Sarah Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CBC, was joined by Steve Zinone, RPR, President-Elect, and Board of Director members Debbie Dibble, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, and Karen Teig, RPR, CRR, CMRS, in a session that covered strategies needed to build an effective coalition to benefit the court reporting profession.

The event wrapped up with a networking reception that allowed attendees the opportunity to meet a number of NCRA’s leadership.