Make an impact in Washington, D.C., at the NCRA Legislative Boot Camp

NCRA members meet with their elected officials on Capitol Hill, including Meredith Bonn and her colleagues from New York, shown top-right with Rep. Kathleen Rice

“The NCRA Legislative Boot Camp was a tremendous training opportunity,” said Rachel Waterhouse-Schwalm, RPR, a freelancer and owner of Westphal Reporting, in Dubuque, Iowa. Waterhouse-Schwalm attended the 2016 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp and is currently the president-elect of the Iowa Court Reporters Association. “I continue to use the skills we received training on to this day, and they will always be of value,” she said.

The 2018 event has two days of sessions on decision-making, grassroots lobbying, certification legislation, and more. But what makes this event unique is the location: our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

While many of the sessions at Boot Camp are new, attendees will still have the opportunity to take the lessons they’ve learned and practice their new skills in mock meetings. In these mock meetings, attendees will test their strategies for speaking with legislators, and they will receive feedback to tweak their messaging and delivery.

“The mock hearings prepared me by allowing me to get my nerves out by practicing,” said Meredith Bonn, RPR, an official in Webster, N.Y. Bonn also attended the 2016 event and is currently an NCRA Director after having served on the New York State Court Reporters Association board. “I must say having not an ordinary practice session, but a tension-filled, lifelike situation was eye-opening and helpful.”

Rachel Waterhouse-Schwalm, left, and Kara Holland, center, meet with Capitol Hill staffers

On the final day of the event, attendees will get the full D.C. experience, traveling by Metro to Capitol Hill and spending the day meeting face-to-face with their elected officials and staff and talking to them about the important issues that affect court reporting and captioning today.

“Being there in awe of all its history is amazing,” said Bonn. “To have the ear and attention of our legislators was appreciated. To communicate a clear, concise, and useful message was empowering.”

“Kara, our current Iowa Court Reporters Association president, had a meeting with the governor last week to do a press event for the signing of the proclamation for Court Reporting & Captioning Week,” said Waterhouse-Schwalm, who attended with Kara Holland, RPR.  “Afterward she and our lobbyist, Bill Wimmer, went to meet at the capitol with state representatives. She mentioned how Boot Camp training really kicked in and made her much more comfortable in those meetings and helped her shape her arguments and talking points.”

After a full day of D.C. action, attendees will wrap up their experience with a reception in the beautiful Library of Congress honoring the popular Veterans History Project (VHP). Many NCRA members have participated in the VHP, and this reception will help them have a deeper understanding of the value of this project and reporters’ and captioners’ participation in it. The reception will also allow attendees to compare notes and share wins from the day.

“The Boot Camp was a challenging experience that has value beyond measure,” added Waterhouse-Schwalm. “Those training tools have been used both in board work and in many other ways. It gives you great confidence in advocating for your profession and your fellow reporters.”

Register for the 2018 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp at NCRA.org/BootCamp by Feb. 23.

Take Note! Court reporters and captioners transcribe interviews for Veterans History Project

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn Feb. 10, the Library of Congress posted a blog written by April Weiner, Manager of the National Court Reporters Foundation. The blog provided insight into how court reporters and captioners are helping to preserve the stories of American war veterans.

Read more.

Plan ahead for learning opportunities through NCRA

calendar

Photo by Dafne Cholet

Mark your calendars and plan your learning path with NCRA through 2018. NCRA offers opportunities to earn CEUs in a variety of ways, from certification to webinars to live events. NCRA is your one-stop shop for your educational needs, whether you are working toward your next certification, your cycle ending date, or another goal.

Keep in mind that NCRA members can earn CEUs by passing the skills or written portion of certain tests, such as the RMR, RDR, CRR, or CLVS Exams.

Here is a short selection of dates and events (dates are subject to change):

Court Reporting & Captioning Week (Feb. 10-17), Memorial Day (May 30), and Veterans Day (Nov. 11) are also all good opportunities to schedule Veterans History Project Days to earn PDCs, although members and students are invited to participate throughout the year. And don’t forget that online skills testing is available year round.

In addition, NCRA is planning webinars throughout the year, which will be announced in the JCR Weekly and on the NCRA Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages as they are available.

Watch for more information in the JCR, in the JCR Weekly, and on TheJCR.com for registration, deadlines, and other ideas to earn continuing education.

Court reporters help vets’ stories live on

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn Nov. 20, the Courier Tribune posted a photo with a caption from a Veterans History Project hosted by the Missouri Court Reporters Association.

Read more.

Lake County veterans share experiences at annual oral history project

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Lake County News-Sun posted an article on Nov. 13 about the sixth annual Veterans History Project held at the Lake County Courthouse, Ill. NCRA member Kathy Fennell, RMR, an official court reporter from Matteson, Ill., was on hand to transcribe.

Read more.

Members give back: Honoring U.S. veterans

A family of four dressed for chilly weather pose outside in front of a suburban house

Michelle Keegan with her two sons and her husband, who served in the infantry in Operation Desert Storm

By Michelle Keegan

Over the years, I have transcribed many interviews of veterans through the Library of Congress Veterans History Project and the National Court Reporters Foundation. I feel honored to be able to take part in such a worthwhile program. Every interview brings a new understanding of the sacrifices that our veterans have made. Often I am left in awe by the courage that these men and women showed at such a young age when called to defend our nation. More times than not, after I finish transcribing an interview, I immediately want to transcribe another. I find that as the veteran recounts his or her story, I become mesmerized. I often find that I’m laughing along with the veteran to the funny stories that are remembered, and I get teary eyed along with the veteran when he or she relates some of the more difficult memories.

One memory that was recounted recently was by a veteran of the Air Force. He said that a bunch of guys got together and decided to go into town, and they bought a kitchen sink. And they took the kitchen sink with them. They had tipped off the photographers who went along that when they got to the target, they were going to dump the kitchen sink down on the target so the headlines would read in the paper that the Nazis got hit with everything and the kitchen sink. That’s a true story.

I have recently met with the head of the local Veterans Administration to start a Veterans History Project that will interview our city’s veterans. It is my hope that the veterans of our city will share their stories through the Veterans History Project so that we as a society may gain a better understanding of what their experiences in wars were like, what they did as they integrated back into society, and how they are able to cope with and overcome some of the difficult memories that they have. I hope that by hearing these stories, we as a society will not forget that throughout our history, our country has needed protection, and these men and women bravely answered the call. And many of them are our neighbors.

Veterans Day may have come and gone this year, but one way that we as court reporters can give back is by volunteering to transcribe the stories of a veteran. NCRA and, through it, NCRA members have been working with the Library of Congress since 2003 both to record and transcribe the stories of the diverse group of men and women who have served our nation.

Michelle Keegan, RMR, CRR, is a freelance reporter from Quincy, Mass. She can be reached at michellekeegan2010@hotmail.com.

For more information about the Veterans History Project, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF, or contact April Weiner, Foundation Manager, at aweiner@ncra.org.

Project preserving vets’ stories

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Seguin Gazette posted an article on Nov. 5 about a Veterans History Project event hosted by the Texas Court Reporters Association that captured the stories of five local veterans. The article quotes NCRA member Kathleen Ullrich, RPR, CRC, a local captioner who participated in the event.

Read more.

NCRA member participates in Illinois VHP event

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyNCRA member Jill Layton, RMR, an official court reporter from Toledo, Ill., participated in a recent Illinois Veterans History Project, according to an article posted by Riverbender.com on Nov. 2.

Read more.

Veterans and family members share stories at Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project event

Left to right: Marylyn Howe is interviewed by Carol Menton while Liz Speer and Sheri Smargon write.

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) hosted a fourth Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative on Oct. 13 at the Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA) annual conference held in Orlando, Fla. The interviews will be transcribed and submitted to the Library of Congress for its Veterans History Project (VHP).

Volunteer court reporters, captioners, and interviewers captured seven new interviews of U.S. war veterans, including the story of Maj. Gen. Charles W. Sweeney, the only American Air Force pilot to fly on both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic missions during World War II. Sweeney’s story was shared by his daughter, Marylyn Howe, of Savannah, Ga.

Howe shared how her father’s career as a pilot evolved in the U.S. Air Force, that he had earned a Silver Star for his service, and that he also wrote a book called War’s End about his experience on the last atomic mission. Now out of print, Howe said the book will be updated with photos and other materials and reprinted in 2018. She also noted that her late father was instrumental in founding the Massachusetts State Air Guard and was actively involved in helping to establish such volunteer groups throughout all states.

Left to right: Cheri Frady shows a picture of her husband while Laura Landerman writes. Marylyn Howe interviewed Frady, and Georgia Rodriguez also wrote.

“It is very meaningful that veterans with hearing loss are being recognized and able to share their stories,” said Howe, an audiologist who has worked with veterans suffering hearing loss. “Many people don’t realize the hearing problems related to service and what a significant impact it can have on lives.” Howe also serves as co-chair of ALDA’s Publicity Committee.

Howe provided a copy of her father’s book that will be included with the final transcript in the Library of Congress.

Howe’s husband, Brian, a retired U.S. Marine Corps captain and pilot who suffers hearing loss from long-term exposure to jet engines, shared his story about his service in Vietnam. He also volunteered to interview U.S. Army veteran Ron Walker, SP4, from Merry Hill, N.C. During his interview, Walker shared that he earned the Purple Heart Award and two Bronze Stars for his service in Vietnam.

Cheri Frady, St. Petersburg, Fla., the widow of Teairlton Frady, who served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, shared letters he wrote home as well as a number of entries from his journals. These materials will be submitted to the Library of Congress with the final transcript. Frady also shared that her late husband was a Native American Onondaga and that he suffered health-related issues caused in part by his exposure to the powerful herbicide and defoliant Agent Orange used during the war.

Other veterans interviewed included:

  • Paul Morris, Clearwater, Fla., U.S. Army SP4, who served between the Korean and Vietnam wars
  • Harvey Rothman, Kissimmee, Fla., U.S. Army, SP4, who served in Vietnam
  • Gary Talley, Petersburg, Va., U.S. Navy, PN3, who served on the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy (CV-67)

Left to right: Brian Howe interviews while Michelle Pulido Stubben writes Ron Walker’s story, seated next to Irene Walker.

“It is an honor for me to do this. My son is a U.S. Marine, and I am proud of all of our servicemen,” said Nancy Rivera, RPR, a freelancer from Valrico, Fla., who volunteered to take down a veteran’s story at the event. “I was touched by the first time I did this. It hits home for me. I like to hear their stories and the emotion. It means a lot to them, and it means a lot to me.” Rivera noted that this was the first time she had participated in a live VHP event. The first time she volunteered for a VHP event was online.

“This was the first time I participated in one of these events, and I had no idea what to expect,” said Laura Landerman, RMR, CRR, a freelancer from Altamonte Springs, Fla. “Most reporters don’t provide realtime or captioning, and since I can do both, I volunteered. I would do it again. I liked that I could provide captions to aid the interviewer,” she added.

Nancy Rivera writes while Liz Speer interviews Harvey Rothman

Liz Speer, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer from Apopka, Fla., who volunteered to transcribe as well as interview, said participating in the event was especially meaningful to her because her own father had served in the U.S. military.

“The timing was just right. I lost my dad two months ago. He served in two wars, and he would have loved to have been interviewed. That’s the primary reason I volunteered. It’s also exciting to read those stories already down and know they are at the Library of Congress,” she added.

Other volunteer reporters and captioners included:

  • Michelle Pulido Stubben, Orlando, Fla.
  • Georgia Rodriguez, RPR, freelancer, Jacksonville, Fla.;
  • Sheri Smargon, RDR, CRR, CRC, broadcast captioner, Riverview, Fla.

Other volunteer interviewers included:

  • Carol Menton, case manager for Metro North/Northeast Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, in Boston, Mass., and an ALDA member
  • Larry Littleton, Oahu, Hawaii, a member of the ALDA Publicity Committee

NCRA and NCRF were also present on the ALDA expo floor, where NCRA members volunteered by providing captioning and CART demonstrations and answering questions from attendees about their services. Volunteers at the booth included:

  • Jamie Chancellor, CRC, broadcast captioner, Orlando, Fla.
  • Amie First, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE, CART captioner, Orlando, Fla.
  • Maria Rodriguez, RPR, freelancer, Tampa, Fla.

Jamie Chancellor demonstrates captioning at the NCRA booth at the ALDA expo

Other NCRA members attending the ALDA conference included Pat Graves, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner and agency owner from Monument, Colo., who chairs ALDA’s CART committee; and committee members Tess Crowder, RPR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner and agency owner from Tampa, Fla.; Anthony Trujillo, RMR, CRR, a freelance captioner from Kissimmee, Fla.; and Rita Meyer, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner from Orlando, Fla.

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.

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.

What can you do in a month to earn CEUs?

A middle-aged white woman listens attentively during a workshop while taking notes.The Sept. 30 deadline for this year’s CEU cycle is coming up quickly, but there’s still time to earn a few more last-minute credits, both in person and online. Even if your CEU cycle isn’t ending this year, these ideas can help you stay on track and possibly even get that requirement done early.

Attend a webinar or e-seminar

Webinars and e-seminars are a great way to learn some new skills in the comfort of your own home and, in terms of e-seminars, on your own schedule. There are three 90-minute live webinars scheduled for this September:

If none of these webinars fit your schedule, check out the NCRA e-seminar library for 60- and 90-minute sessions on topics that include business, CART and captioning, ethics, grammar and language, history, official reporting, personal development, realtime, technology, and more.

Attend a pre-approved event, including state association conferences

Many state associations and other court reporter–related organizations are hosting conferences and seminars in September. In-person events give you the opportunity to network with other reporters and captioners while earning CEUs. Most events are one to three days, and several of them are in the first half of the month. Events are scheduled in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana/Wyoming/Idaho, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as Alberta, Canada, this month. Check out the full calendar of pre-approved events here, which includes the dates, location (geographic or online), and number of CEUs.

Learn CPR or first aid

The American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and other organizations often host seminars on CPR or first aid. Perhaps you can organize a few colleagues from your firm, court, or even your local area to team up for an event nearby. Court reporters and captioners have to be prepared for anything, so why not add safety to your list of skills? Learn more about the requirements for earning CEUs by learning CPR or first aid on NCRA.org/WaysToEarn.

Transcribe oral histories

Members who participate in the Oral Histories Program through the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) may earn Professional Development Credits for their time. Members can apply up to 1.0 PDC to their CEU requirement per cycle. Transcribe a 30- to 90-minute pre-recorded interview of an American veteran, Holocaust survivor, or attorney who has provided pro bono services through Legal Aid. Many people find participating in the Oral Histories Program to be especially rewarding. “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,” said Kimberly Xavier, RDR, CRR, CRC, CMRS, CRI, an official court reporter from Arlington, Texas, and a U.S. Air Force veteran, who recently volunteered at NCRF’s third Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative at the 86th Military Order of the Purple Heart 2017 Convention held in Dallas. Learn more at NCRA.org/NCRF/OralHistories.

Get credit for past events

You may have already participated in activities that have helped you earn CEUs or PDCs during the last year, and the only thing you need to do is fill out the proper form to get credit. If you promoted the profession at a career fair, law school, or other event; provided pro bono services; served on a state association board or committee (including the United States Court Reporting Association); or participated in a formal mentoring program, you may qualify for credit for your volunteerism. You can submit these CEUs and PDCs here.

Cycle extensions

If you need a four-month cycle extension (to Jan. 31) to finish those last CEUs, you can fill out the CEU extension request form by Sept. 30. Note that the deadline to complete CEUs or to request an extension is the same date.

View the full list of qualified continuing education activities at NCRA.org/WaysToEarn. View other continuing education forms here or view your current transcript here. If you have any questions, please contact the NCRA credentialing coordinator.