Get comfy for professional development: Exciting upcoming NCRA webinars

Front view of a person sitting barefoot on a couch with their laptop on their knees, blocking their faceCourt reporters and captioners understand the value of continuing education and always improving one’s skills, but it can be challenging to attend in-person events. With NCRA webinars, you can learn more about your profession from the comfort of your own home or office (not to mention that you can attend them in your slippers – no one will know!).

NCRA has a wide variety of topics coming up in the next month. The JCR Weekly reached out to the presenters to help whet your appetite.

On Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. ET, Tori Pittman, FAPR, RDR, CRI, will present “Intersteno: Berlin and Beyond.” Pittman is a freelance reporter from North Carolina who has a passion for Intersteno. Intersteno is “a worldwide community uniting all those using a full range of speed writing methods to quickly produce high quality texts” (including steno lovers, keyboarding champions, and verbatim writers), and they host an international Congress every two years. In this 90-minute webinar, Pittman will talk about the networking and competition opportunities at Intersteno. She describes it as “international travel that is also a business expense” and explains that Intersteno attendees “learn about reporting in other countries while exploring fantastic locations.” The 2017 Intersteno Congress was held in Berlin, Germany (NCRA members performed very well in the competitions), and the next event is in 2019 in Sardinia, Italy.

On Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. ET, Lisa Jo Hubacher, RPR, CRI, will present “Thinking about Student Training.” Hubacher is an instructor at Madison Area Technical College (which is also her alma mater) in Madison, Wis. Madison Area Technical College received one of the final Training for Realtime Writers grants in 2014 due to its curriculum redesign. In this webinar, Hubacher will discuss this curriculum model, including the redesign’s impact on the program, what’s working, and what needs tweaking. This is a must-attend webinar for anyone involved in training reporting students!

On Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. ET, Santo J. Aurelio, FAPR, RDR, will present “Legal Terms, Part 1.” Aurelio has presented several language-related webinars recently, including “What Reporters Must Know about Punctuation” and “English Grammar Gremlins: Ways to Conquer Them” (now both available as e-seminars). Aurelio will present on more than a hundred and fifty terms, but he admits, “I really get a special kick out of four of them: alibi (in another place), durance vile (imprisonment), eleemosynary (charitable), and Esq.” He adds, “If I must pick one, then I guess it would be Esq., which is merely a title of courtesy, but attorneys think that it means ‘one who is an attorney.’” Aurelio will provide “economical but cogent explanations” for the words that he hopes each attendee will easily remember.

Finally, on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. ET, Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, CRC, will present “Promoting the Profession.” Uviedo is an official in San Antonio, Texas, and she serves as co-chairperson for the Texas Court Reporters Association Student Recruitment Task Force. Her efforts in recruiting and mentoring court reporting students have won her the NCSA challenge not just once, but twice in a row; in 2015, she organized participation in 13 career fairs in 15 days in San Antonio. “It is so easy and rewarding volunteering for a recruitment event,” says Uviedo. “You have the potential to reach hundreds, even if you only talk to 50.” Uviedo has also found the value in promoting the profession over social media, and she hints that “one cool thing I’ll talk about is having attendees take selfies of themselves in front of their court reporting machines and having them spread posts about court reporting.”

Members who attend the webinars will be able to ask questions directly to the presenter and get them answered right away. But if you are not able to attend the live webinar, they will be available as on-demand e-seminars after the fact. Keep an eye on NCRA’s e-seminar library for these and other topics to help grow as a professional.

PohlmanUSA announces donation to the American Red Cross in support of Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Houston

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyPohlmanUSA, based in St. Louis, Mo., recently made a donation to the American Red Cross “on behalf of all of our clients and reporters located in Houston and those affected by Hurricane Harvey.” In their announcement, the firm said, “We appreciate the first responders and volunteers for their heroic efforts to keep everyone safe across the southern United States during this extraordinary event of nature” and shared the link to the American Red Cross.

NCRA, TCRA, and TEXDRA working to assist members affected by Hurricane Harvey

A green steno machine and "TX" in white letters are imposed over the state of Texas in black

Image from the Reporters Helping Reporters GoFundMe campaign

It’s been more than a week since Hurricane Harvey took its toll on Houston, Texas, and surrounding communities. Although the rains may be over, the devastation and cleanup is expected to remain a long-term issue. NCRA, the Texas Court Reporters Association (TCRA), and the Texas Deposition Reporters Association (TEXDRA) want those affected to know that the organizations are already working to help.

In an effort to help ensure that member services are not interrupted during this difficult time, NCRA will offer flexible financing for dues and extensions on CEU requirements needed by those immediately affected by Harvey.

In coming weeks, NCRA staff will also begin following up on members in areas affected by the storm to offer additional support and resources. Members needing assistance can also reach out directly to NCRA by emailing msic@ncra.org or calling 800-272-6272.

NCRA is also encouraging individuals or firms to support relief efforts by donating funds to Reporters Helping Reporters, a GoFundMe campaign established by TCRA that will provide aid to members affected financially. To date, the site has surpassed its $10,000 financial aid goal.

NCRA also encourages individuals who want to donate used equipment or individuals affected by the hurricane who need equipment to visit the TEXDRA website for donation and request checklists and forms. Gift cards can also be donated via the TEXDRA website for distribution to members in need. Other links on the website include TCRA’s GoFundMe page, information about volunteer opportunities through the Red Cross, and tips on what to do next in the event of a disaster written by NCRA member Kelly Hanna, RMR, CRR, CMRS, a reporter and agency owner in Houston who has been flooded twice before. There is also information on how to donate to the Red Cross and the United Way Relief Fund.

“NCRA is not just your professional association. NCRA is your professional family. We want everyone impacted by Hurricane Harvey to know that we are here to help you in any way we can,” said NCRA President Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, a court reporter and firm owner from Wausau, Wis. “Your NCRA and NCRF Board members and their staffs are holding good thoughts for you and your families and friends as you work through these trying times.

Reaching out through NCRA-supported organizations

NCRA and its members give back through many projects and organizations. This month, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc., and the Julie Brandau Community Service Memorial Project are highlighted.

Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

On Aug. 29, NCRA sponsored the 22nd TDI Biennial Conference, held in Bethesda, Md.

The conference, which attracted hundreds of attendees, offered three days of panels and guest speakers addressing the latest issues affecting the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.

“NCRA has a long history of working with TDI to support the needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, including shaping telecom policy recommendations of the Disability Advisory Council of the Federal Communications Commissions,” said Mathew R. Barusch, NCRA’s Manager, State Government Relations.

“NCRA is proud to support TDI and looks forward to a continued partnership,” he added.

A woman in uniform poses, kneeling, next to a black-and-white border collie mix dog

Andrea Sutcliffe & Skye. Photo © National Disaster Search Dog Foundation

National Disaster Search Dog Foundation

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the Houston, Texas, area last week, two Julie Brandau Project–sponsored search dog teams, trained at the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, have been deployed to the area to aid in search-and-rescue efforts.

The teams of Patti Kraft and Billy as well as Andi Sutcliffe and Skye joined two other canine teams from the Texas Task Force in San Antonio to await their deployment. The Dallas-based teams also joined rescue teams sent from Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Diego, Calif. A local news station aired a story about Sutcliffe and Skye, showcasing the work the two do together in times of emergencies and disasters. The JCR reported on the work that the duo did responding to tornadoes that struck Garland, Texas, in December 2015.

A woman in uniform poses, kneeling, next to a german shepherd mix dog on a leash

Kristi Bartlett & Ivan. Photo © National Disaster Search Dog Foundation

In addition, Kristi Bartlett and Ivan, based in Fairfax, Va., have been deployed in preparation for Hurricane Irma. Bartlett and Ivan have also been sponsored by the Julie Brandau Project, and they are “part of one of only two FEMA Task Forces in the United States that respond internationally,” according to the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. Bartlett and Ivan join teams from California, Pennsylvania, and New York.

The Julie Brandau Community Service Memorial Project was established by the court reporting community in honor of the court reporter who was murdered in an Atlanta, Ga., courtroom in 2005. The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation rescues high-energy dogs and trains them to become search-and-rescue canines for firefighters and other first responders at no cost to their agencies.

NCRF Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project captures Purple Heart recipients’ stories

Two women, one holding a plaque in the shape of a scroll, stand in front of a banner reading "America's Combat Wounded Veterans -- Purple Heart Recipients." The wording is wrapped around an image of the Purple Heart medal in front of a bald eagle whose wings turn into the American flag.

April Weiner and Nancy Hopp accepted a plaque on behalf of NCRF from the Military Order of the Purple Heart

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) hosted a third Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative on Aug. 14 at the 86th Military of Order of Purple Heart (MOPH) 2017 Convention held in Dallas, Texas. Volunteer court reporters and captioners from the Texas Court Reporters Association were joined by a number of volunteer interviewers including NCRF Chair Nancy Hopp, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRMS, from St. Louis, Mo., to help chronicle the service experiences of nine veterans from a number of different military branches and different wars, which will be transcribed for the U.S. Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP).

The event was also featured in two segments that aired on KDFW-DAL Fox 4 News.

“I’m proud of the work court reporters and captioners have done to preserve veterans’ stories,” said Hopp during a presentation to attendees at the MOPH event. “We owe it to you brave men and women to make sure your stories live on for the benefit of your families, historians, and the American people.”

In her remarks, Hopp shared that her own father was drafted in the infantry in his late 20s and served in Europe during World War II. He received the Purple Heart for injuries sustained during his active service.

“Over the course of his life, my dad would tell us isolated anecdotes from his wartime experiences. In 1998, when he was 83 years old and on his deathbed, I flew to Florida to visit him in the hospital. When I arrived, he took off his oxygen mask, and he proceeded to knit together all those little war stories he had shared over the years into one compelling and poignant narrative of his experience,” Hopp said.

Noting that her father’s story was an amazing tale of terror, courage, and, most of all, a strong sense of duty, Hopp added that she was struck at the time by how he would not let himself die until he had a chance to unburden himself of experiences he had had 50 years earlier.

Back view of a conference room with a seated audience -- mostly men and some wearing commemorative military service hats. A woman stands at the podium in the front of the room. On the projector is a black and white photographer of a smiling young man in uniform, probably circa the 1940s

Nancy Hopp shares a few words about her father (pictured) at the Military Order of the Purple Heart convention

“I so wish I could have preserved his story both for posterity and as evidence of the personal sacrifices he made,” said Hopp as she encouraged those in the audience to share their stories for the Library of Congress program.

NCRF’s work promoting VHP programs like the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes initiative is important because it helps veterans who have never spoken of their service share their stories, said Kimberly Xavier, RDR, CRR, CRC, CMRS, CRI, an official court reporter from Arlington, Texas, and a U.S. Air Force veteran, who volunteered at the MOPH event.

“As court reporters, we sometimes are too focused on the financial side of what we do, but (volunteering) is giving back. Anyone thinking of participating in one of these events should just jump right in and do it. It’s well worth it,” added Xavier.

For volunteer interviewer Mark Kiernan, from The Colony, Texas, participating in the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes event was extremely gratifying especially since his own son was wounded during service in Afghanistan. He attended the event with his wife, Therese Casterline Kiernan, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter who volunteered to capture the stories of the veterans he interviewed.

“I would absolutely do this again. I think it is important that people learn and understand how much those who seserve — and their families, too — sacrifice. When my son was injured, the first person I saw in the hospital said to me that everyone now needs to learn a new normal. Hearing a veteran’s story could be the learning experience of a lifetime,” added Kiernan.

Other court reporters, captioners, and interviewers from Texas who volunteered their time to support the NCRF event included:

  • Kacie Adcock, RPR, CRR, CRC, a broadcast and CART captioner from Arlington, and her husband, Ryan
  • Mellony Ariail, RMR, CRR, CRC, an official court reporter from Corinth
  • Jennifer Collins, a captioner from Fort Worth
  • Terra Gentry, RPR, CRR, CRC, a freelance reporter from Rockwall
  • Lisa Hundt, RPR, a freelance court reporter and firm owner from Dallas
  • Brynna Kelley, RPR, CRR, a broadcast captioner from Dallas
  • Brian Roberts (interviewer)
  • Vicki Smith, RPR, a freelance court reporter from Lewisville
  • Vonda Treat (interviewer)
  • Kathleen Ullrich, RPR, CRR, a CART captioner from Seguin
Four people sit around a table -- two are in coversation while the other two write the conversation on a steno machine and provide captioning

(l->r) Kimberly Xavier records an oral history while Nancy Hopp asks veteran Benny Duett questions and Jennifer Collins provides CART.

The veterans interviewed included:

  • Richard Chenone, New Berlin, Wis., who served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and earned the Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals for his service.
  • Benny Duett, Meridian, Miss., who served as a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam and earned the Purple Heart, the Vietnam Campaign, and the Vietnam Service medals for his service.
  • James Gordon, Stone Mountain, Ga., who served as an E6 in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and earned the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the National Defense, the Vietnam Service, and the Vietnam Campaign medals for his service.
  • Bill Grumlett, San Antonio, Texas, who served as a captain in the U.S. Army in Korea and Vietnam and earned the Purple Heart, the Vietnam Service, and the Korea Service medals for his service.
  • Robert Hunt, Cordova, Tenn., an E5 (sergeant) in the U.S. Army who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and earned two Purple Heart medals for his service. Hunt was accompanied by his golden retriever service dog, Baron, during his interview.
  • Kevin Hynes, New Bern, N.C., a captain in the U.S. Air Force who served in Vietnam and earned a Purple Heart, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Airman’s Medal, two Bronze Stars, and an Air Medal for his service.
  • Robert Lance, location not given, who served as a sergeant major E9 in the U.S. Marine Corps in Korea and Vietnam and earned a Purple Heart medal for his service.
  • Leonard Lang, Blanchard, Okla., an E5 in the U.S. Army who served in Korea and Vietnam and earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star medal for his service.
  • Bobby McNeill, Charlotte, N.C., who served as a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam and earned the Purple Heart, National Defense Service, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign with Device, and Meritorious Mast medals for his service.

NCRF’s Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative 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.

NCRF launched the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project at the Hearing Loss Association of America’s headquarters in Bethesda, Md., in February, where five veterans with varying degrees of hearing loss chronicled their service experiences. In June, seven veterans were interviewed during the 2017 Hearing Loss Association of America’s Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. NCRF is seeking volunteers to participate at a fourth event in October during the Association of Late-Deafened Adults conference being held in Orlando, Fla.

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 2007, 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 4,100 transcripts to the Library of Congress.

NCRF’s Hard-of-Hearing Heroes initiative is supported by an Innovation Grant from the American Society of Association Executives Foundation. For more information, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF, or contact April Weiner, Foundation Manager, at aweiner@ncra.org.

NCRA member sworn in as state association director

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Victoria Advocate reported on Aug. 20 that Sonia G. Trevino has been sworn in for a two-year term as area director, seat 5, for the Texas Court Reporters Association.

Read more.

Court reporters in demand in Bexar County

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn July 18, KSAT Channel 12, San Antonio, Texas, aired a story about the need for more court reporters in Bexar County.  NCRA members Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, CRC, and Tonya Thompson, RPR, are featured in the piece.

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Court reporting dominates local news in Texas

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyNCRA members Cayce Coskey, RPR; Leslie Ryan-Hash; Carol Smith, RPR; and Nardi Reaves were quoted in an article posted June 18 by the Times Record, Wichita Falls, Texas, that showcases the role of a court reporter as well as the speed and accuracy needed to succeed in the profession. Also on June 17, the newspaper posted an article about the salaries of Nueces County court reporters. On June 18, an editorial piece calling the salary assessment “grossly unfair” was published in the newspaper.

Board of Judges discusses need for court reporters

JCR logoKIII News reported on May 8 that the court system in Nueces County, Corpus Christi, Texas, has had a problem attracting and keeping court reporters because of low pay. Recently the Board of Judges and County Commissioners agreed to a deal to cut two positions in exchange for pay raises for all court reporters.

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Court reporting schools to exhibit at career day event in Texas

jcr-publications_high-resThe Gilmer [Texas] Mirror posted an article on Feb. 13 about the Texas Supreme Court holding a formal court session to hear oral arguments in two cases at LeTourneau University in Longview,  in conjunction with a “Law as a Career Day” being held on campus. Numerous law schools, paralegal schools, and court reporting schools will have recruiting booths on-site.

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