Debilitating disease no deterrent for dedicated Astros fan

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting,, JCR WeeklyAn Oct. 19 article in the Houston [Texas] Chronicle spotlights Victor Lombrana, a Houston Astros fan who is blind and deaf due to Type 2 Usher syndrome. The article mentions NCRA member Susan Henley, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer in Houston, who captions the Astros’ and Rockets’ home games.

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University of Nebraska fans with hearing loss pushing for captioning services in stadium

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting,, JCR WeeklyThe Lincoln Journal Star posted an article on July 29 about requests for captioning by Husker fans with hearing loss at the University of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium.

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VITAC joins Sports Group Video as a corporate sponsor

JCR logoA press release issued June 13 announced that VITAC, based in Canonsburg, Pa., has become a corporate sponsor of the Sports Video Group.

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SVG venue initiative white paper adds section on in-venue closed captioning

jcr-publications_high-resThe Sports Venue Group announced on Jan. 12 the release of its latest section of a white paper that summarizes closed captioning regulations, reviews technical and operational requirements, and offers examples of quality in-venue captioning from several professional and collegiate teams.

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Deaf woman says Pepsi Center not in compliance with disabilities act, files lawsuit

jcr-publications_high-resFox News 31 in Denver, Colo., aired a story on Nov. 12 about a class-action lawsuit that has been filed against Kroenke Sports and Entertainment and the Pepsi Center. The suit was filed on behalf of a woman who is deaf who said the facility is not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act because it does not providing closed captioning at events.

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NBA teams to provide closed captioning at home games

JCR publications share buttonThe Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx basketball teams announced in a press release issued Nov. 2 that the organizations will provide closed captioning at all future home games. Captioning will be provided by Paradigm Sports Captioning, which is led by NCRA member Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS.

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I write the Stanley Cup every day

Photo by Connie Lee

Photo by Connie Lee

By Connie Lee

I love hockey. I especially love the Pittsburgh Penguins. They are my team. I have been providing in-stadium captioning for the Pittsburgh Penguins for five seasons now. Lucky me!

I had the distinct pleasure of writing game five of the 2016 Stanley Cup final. The Penguins were winning the series 3-1, and game five was going to be the night that Pittsburgh won a championship at home for the first time in 60 years. I was completely giddy to get to the arena from the time game four was in the books. I woke and dressed in my most professional version of black and gold that day. I had a short deposition in the morning before heading to the Consol Energy Center arena, strategically parking near the exit that would lead to the quickest way home. After all, 60,000 people, both inside and outside, were expected that night.

As I passed through the security gate and waved hello to my colleagues, just as I have done for the last five seasons, it dawned on me how very ordinary it was that day. The same aroma of pizza and hot sausage filled the air. A billion more TV people and trucks blocked my path, but everyone was calm.

When I arrived at media level, I expected pandemonium, people running from emergency to emergency. I expected high levels of anxiety. I got none of it. Until, that is, it was time for rehearsal. Routinely, everyone involved in game-night production meets in the director’s room, which is the size of about three large conference rooms. It’s about 30 people. When the game director, Billy Wareham, started to speak, I knew it was time to get serious. Billy is pretty jovial and cracks a lot of jokes. But when he started the meeting with, “I need to give you all some instructions,” I gulped.

What was so amazing to me was that Billy started his instructions by saying, “The people that are here in this room are here because I trust you. You are the best of the best.” That’s what made me realize, I write the Stanley Cup every day. Like the hockey players, I practice and hone my craft. I invest a minimum of 40 hours a week to my career. I don’t waste my time doing it half-way. Everything counts: every stroke, every interaction with my clients, every conversation with my support staff, every time I speak with the subcontractors – everything counts every day.

I get tired, sure, and sometimes I think of walking away, but what I do is important to more than just me. My team is counting on me: my family, my office manager, my scopists, my proofreader. More than anyone, the people who hire me and trust me with their work are counting on me.

When I write for the lawyers, I may not be the superstar on the ice, but I most equate myself with the equipment manager, making sure their skates are sharp, so that the litigators can go out and win. When I write for the Penguins, an entire fan base of people is counting on me to be their ears and to give them the full game-night experience. I pride myself on being the one both groups can rely on to do my absolute best every day.

My sweet Penguins did not win game five. It broke all of our hearts. The responses to the interviews after the game were not of the team giving up. They were of each player filled with resolve to get the job done, to come back next game and win the Stanley Cup in game 6. I’ll be there with them. Let’s go, Pens!

Connie Lee, RPR, is a freelance reporter in Baden, Pa.

NCRA member captions Stanley Cup finals

A press release issued June 2 announced that NCRA member Constance Lee, RPR, a freelance reporter from Pittsburgh, Pa., provided closed captioning for game one of the Stanley Cup finals in which the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks.

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Captioning the Super Bowl

final punt of Super Bowl 50

Photo by: Steve Jurvetson

For most people, the only stress associated with the Super Bowl is whether their team wins or loses. However, for Paula Arispe, RPR, Octavia Brandenburg, and Stefani Tkacs – all captioners with the National Captioning Institute – the Super Bowl provided them an opportunity to showcase their captioning skills.

“Despite the anxiety of knowing that it’s a huge event and that everything needs to go as perfectly as possible, both connection-wise and in translation, it’s very exciting and an honor to caption such a high-profile event,” said Brandenburg, a sentiment that Arispe and Tkacs shared. The three captioners researched the team rosters ahead of time, along with names of coaches, announcers, etc. They also received prep work from CBS.

“We were given a rundown of each show that was going to be that day. We didn’t know who was going to be interviewed during the shows, so it was pretty much on the fly. And they were jumping around to a bunch of different announcers that we normally don’t have so that was a little nerve racking at first until you figured out who they were,” said Arispe. She and Tkacs traded one- to two-hour shifts captioning the pre-game material into the beginning of the game, covering eight hours of programming altogether. Brandenburg then took over for the remainder of the game through the end of the postgame show.

Arispe also recognized the technical support that the captioners received. “Our organization for the whole day could not have been made smoother if it wasn’t for the hard work of all our engineers involved. The encoders were different for a few of the shows, and we only had a couple of minutes to disconnect from one to connect to the other,” she said.

All three captioners have had experience covering football games and talk shows – this was Brandenburg’s fourth time captioning the Super Bowl – so they were familiar with many of the names, the terminology, and the issues that come up in commentary. They also all have experience captioning other sporting events as well as other high-profile events.

“I have had the privilege of captioning March Madness, and I will tell you that is so much harder because you have to have all the teams in that are part of it,” said Arispe (she also was one of the captioners who covered Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S.).

“I used to caption the pay-per-view wrestling main event shows, but it’s not as widely viewed as the Super Bowl. However, the pay-per-views were commercial-free and the Super Bowl day had commercials. That’s a much-needed break. For the commercial-free pay-per-view, we would write for 15-20 minutes and switch off,” said Tkacs.

“I’ve done NCAA championships, both football and basketball, Academy Awards-related programming, and nationally televised fundraising shows, such as Stand Up To Cancer. I feel like awards shows require more tedious prep because they’re obviously more scripted and names of all nominees and movies have to be captioned (not to mention fashion designers),” said Brandenburg.

But captioning the Super Bowl isn’t all work – it’s a fun and rewarding assignment too.

“Football is my favorite sport, so I was super excited that I could be part of the Super Bowl and able to make sure that everyone else had the opportunity to enjoy it as well,” said Arispe. “Oh, and captioning Lady Gaga’s rendition of our National Anthem was pretty cool as well!”

“My favorite thing about captioning the Super Bowl is to be able to watch it (since I’m a big sports fan) while also hopefully contributing to its enjoyable viewing by the audience who is hard of hearing and also those who watch in public venues,” said Brandenburg.

“I doubt anyone would ever imagine captions for the Super Bowl event takes place in Dallas, Texas, when the show is in Santa Clara, California. That is pretty remarkable,” said Tkacs. “Although it was high pressure and nerve-racking, I had a great time captioning the Super Bowl, and my family and friends are always in awe of what I do.”

Stenographer captures hearts of players and America during NCAA tournament

ESPNW.Today posted an interview on March 27 with NCRA member Toni Christy, RPR, CRR, CBC, CCP, a broadcast captioner from La Mesa, Calif. Christy became an overnight viral sensation last week during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament she was covering, thanks to the curiosity of Nigel Hayes and a couple of other Wisconsin men’s basketball players who thrust her and her profession into the national spotlight.

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