Best Hearing Ever

As CART providers, our job is to provide communication access. Will we ever truly understand what it’s like to be in our consumer’s shoes? That depends on our own hearing levels later in life, I suppose. I personally believe it’s important to at least try. Nancy Otte is a hearing itinerant teacher in Scottsdale, Ariz., and she is hearing-impaired herself.

For Mother’s Day this year, she attended her first captioned theatrical production of “RED” in Phoenix. After seeing the play, she said, “It was a rather erudite play with only two characters and all philosophical exchange. Naturally, without captioning, it would have been impossible. I was so excited throughout that I almost couldn’t breathe. Being three weeks shy of 65, that was an amazing experience to have for the first time. I can’t tell you what a thrill it was.”

Nancy shared with me her perspective on hearing with new hearing aids. The following is her story.

What I Hear

“You’re hearing, it seems, almost at cochlear implant level!” exclaimed my husband, Jim, this week after 42 years of marriage. Because cochlear implants were unavailable when I was a child, and now being the age that I am, my brain will not hear better with a cochlear implant than with a hearing aid, given the most current information from cochlear implant physicians, unless I lose the little hearing I have left.

It has been four months since I acquired the newest and best hearing aids of my life. There were numerous adjustments until I could hear many things at all. Between adjustments and the brain needing to be trained to hear a different way with the newer technology, it took me four months to adjust, and four months is the fastest acclimation time ever achieved. In years past, an equal acquisition of new skills took between one and four years.

What can I hear with hearing aids now that I couldn’t hear before? A partial list, but off the top of my head:

  • More birds outdoors instead of an occasional one bird, and sometimes I can localize where the birds are in general direction.
  • The sound of my dog drinking water, although I wouldn’t know it if I weren’t looking at him and timing the sounds with the protrusion of his tongue lapping the water.
  • My husband’s fingernails scratching fabric approximately one foot away from me with no other noise in the environment.
  • Every vowel of a person speaking to me in a quiet environment from within five feet. If a person says one consonant alone, such as “buh, buh, buh” for “b,” I can hear the “b” or “d” or whatever is being said, but I still need to speechread to tell the difference between “b” or “d,” for example. “Nancy” sounds like “a-ee” and could be “banshee” as well as “Nancy,” for all I know, without speechreading.
  • The phone ringing from 30 feet away if the house is quiet, with no other noise.
  • More environmental sounds, such as a clock ticking, an air conditioner clicking on, a door clicking open or closed, or music being played in the background of a roomful of people talking.

What I Can’t Hear

What do I still not understand through the ear with hearing aids on?

  • The words of a person who is not facing me, whether within 10 feet in a quiet environment or in a lecture situation where only the lecturer is speaking. If the lecturer turns his or her back or turns sideways, the lecturer’s words become undecipherable.
  • Television without captioning.
  • Movies without captioning.
  • Plays without captioning.
  • Some people’s speech on the telephone without captioning.
  • Many unidentified sounds. A leaf blower could be a pipe organ.
  • The speech of people in a group of more than four or five, unless only one person is talking and that person is facing me.

Courts in Berks County, Pa., have no plans to replace stenographers

The September 20 Reading (Pa.) Eagle reported that, even in tough economic times, the Berks County courthouse support their court reporters. President Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl stated that digital devices are no comparison to stenographers when it comes to capturing an accurate record.


CCRA President Early Langley defends official court reporters

In September, Early Langley, RMR, highlighted the importance of stenographic court reporters to the court system in an article  published  by the September 29 Marin (Calif.) Independent Journal. Langley pointed  out how recent cuts to official court reporter positions in California have essentially created a two-tiered justice system that separates those who can afford to bring in a highly-skilled stenographer from those who cannot.  Since  a transcript is needed for an appeal, litigants must either pay  to transcribe  the digital recording or pay to bring in a stenographic  court reporter. She asserted, “The integrity of the judicial process is at stake here with the average person no longer having access to equal justice.”


Social networking transforms political communication

Prior to the 2008 presidential election, then-presidential hopeful Barack Obama hired Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes to run his social media campaign. By hiring Hughes, Obama changed political communications, and many politicians started using social media as a communication tool with their constituents and potential voters. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn provided the opportunity for Americans to find instant news and information from their legislators, even before it is publicized broadly through traditional media. Social media has become an unprecedented direct avenue of communication between citizens and their elected officials.

Prior to the growth of social media, the majority of political offices would respond to their constituent’s letters, phone calls, and emails with one of the same. The incredibly high volume of correspondence with Congressional offices led to slow response times. Some offices took two or three weeks to respond to constituents. Approximately two years ago, less than half of members of Congress used Twitter.

Congressional staff would send out more traditional mail that would not reach constituents in a timely fashion. Government offices relied largely on newspapers and constituent mail to get their message out to the public. Likewise, constituents had to send letters or emails or drive to see their elected officials to get their voices heard. Since 2011, Americans have been able to use social media as a tool to communicate with government officials, an avenue that has not been offered before.

The 2011 State of the Union marked a turning point in social media’s use by politicians. Elected members of Congress could be seen “tweeting” from the House floor to the more than 100 million members of Twitter. The publicity generated by Congressmen using Twitter during the State of the Union pushed other members of Congress to set up and maintain Twitter accounts in the months that followed, and more than 85 percent of our Senators and Representatives got into social media. That number continues to rise today.

Social media also shaped the 2012 presidential race. Earlier this year, Michele Bachmann began uploading all of her campaign videos onto YouTube to share her experiences and visions she had for the country. Similarly, President Obama set up a live stream through Facebook where he was asked questions by individuals on Facebook. More than 22,000 individuals signed up for this.

The Mitt Romney and Obama campaigns began to place their daily Web ads on YouTube and other highly-trafficked Internet sites, in hopes of reaching more people with their messages specifically in the swing states of Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Virginia. Additionally, early in 2012, Governor Romney rolled out his mobile Vice President app, which promised to inform all users of the app who the VP pick would be before the announcement.

Facebook has proven to be a great communication outlet for politicians to get their messages out to a large number of people for minute cost. According to a study by the Congressional Management foundation, more than 60 percent of senior managers and social media managers in Congressional offices say Facebook is a “somewhat or very important tool” for understanding the views and opinions of constituents. In addition, 42 percent say the same for Twitter, and just 34 percent say YouTube is a “somewhat or very important” social media tool.

Social media will be an important tool in the future of political communication for court reporters. The lessons learned from Capitol Hill certainly can be transferred down to the state level when lobbying for issues important to the day-to-day lives and livelihoods like certification, third-party contracting, keeping officials in the courtroom, and any other issue related to the profession.

Stenograph unveils new app

ICVnetThe August 6, 2012, Law Technology News reported that Stenograph has unveiled iCVNet, its Apple iPad app based on its CaseViewNet realtime transcript viewer. The free app provides instant viewing of realtime deposition and trial transcripts on an iPad.

Source: Law Technology News

Drastic reductions proposed at Contra Costa County Courts

According to an August 21, 2012, article by Malaika Fraley of Contra Costa Times, Contra Costa County Superior Court is proposing to end a wide range of services. The article states that California has mandated the Contra Costa court cut its budget by $7 million in the current fiscal year. It also states that the court is considering eliminating its elder, homeless, and drug courts.

Source: news/ci_21367010/drastic-service-reductions-proposed-at-contra-costa-county

Roger Flygare on the ballot for the 30th District in Washington state

According to the CCI Court Reporting blog, NCRA Participating Member Roger Flygare won a primary election to represent Washington State’s 30th Legislative District for a two-year term starting in January 2013. Flygare has been a member of NCRA since 1995.


Blocking of facetime app hurts the deaf

In an article published on, author Brendan Gramer states that Apple will enable iPhone’s FaceTime app to work over mobile connections. However, Gramer found out and mentions that AT&T will block mobile FaceTime unless customers sign up for an expensive unlimited voice plan.


Theatre includes open captioning for performances

Geva Theatre in Rochester, N.Y., will partner with two groups to expand and improve services for patrons with hearing loss, according to an August 3, 2012, report on 13WHAM. Open captioning will be displayed on the side of the stage. The theater will provide open captioning for its six productions of the 2012-2013 Mainstage Season.

Source: local/story/geva/1TkTYXWul0qw6MwTzNUBPA.cspx

Deaf girl’s family sues girl scouts

On August 2, 2012, the  Chicago Tribune website reported that a federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of 12-year-old Megan Runnion, who is deaf. The lawsuit alleges that the Girl Scouts   abruptly disbanded Runnion’s troop in retaliation for her mother’s efforts to keep the organization paying for an interpreter.