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 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.

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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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Challenges, contests, prizes, and fun under way for Court Reporting & Captioning Week

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Medal for TCRA’s virtual run celebrating the 2017 Court Reporting & Captioning Week

As NCRA members, court reporting students, schools, and others get ready for the start of the 2017 Court Reporting & Captioning Week being celebrated Feb. 11-18, a number of challenges and contests offering some hefty prizes have been issued across the nation.

NCRA’s Student Committee has challenged court reporting students to transcribe as many tests as possible during the week to qualify for a prize. Under the contest’s rules, participants do not have to pass the tests, simply transcribe them. The first-place winner will be awarded a copy of NCRA’s RPR Study Guide. The second-place winner will receive a choice of a one-year student membership to the Association or one leg of the RPR Skills Test. The third-place winner will earn a $25 Starbucks gift card. Winners will be announced in the Feb. 22 issue of the JCR Weekly.

Students taking the challenge will be required to submit a test verification form, signed by both the student and a teacher.

The Texas Court Reporters Association (TCRA) is sponsoring Off the Record and On the Run, a virtual run being held Feb. 1-28, in celebration of Court Reporting & Captioning Week. Anyone can participate, according to Beth Faulk, TCRA’s executive director. The event is expected to generate not only awareness and support of the court reporting profession but to also offer a healthy social outlet for court reporters who want to get together and have fun with their friends, Faulk explained.

The cost to register is $25. Participants who run 5k, 10k, or a half marathon will receive a four-inch retro style writing machine medal adorned with a ribbon that reads “AUF T RORD.” All proceeds will benefit TCRA to help it continue to provide quality education, advocacy, and services to its members.

“Those who signed up first have already started receiving their medals and love them! Various reporters and groups are organizing to conduct their runs and walks all together at different parks and locations during National Court Reporting & Captioning Week,” Faulk said She noted that since it is a virtual run, participants can even compete on a treadmill.

Although participants are encouraged to submit their finish time, they are not required to do so to receive their medal. Additional information and registration for the event is can be found at Virtualstrides.com.

The friendly challenged issued by NCRA’s National Committee of State Associations (NCSA) is also heating up. The challenge calls on all state associations to join forces with their members to participate in career fairs, provide realtime demonstrations at high schools and guidance counselor meetings, or host a Veterans History Project events to celebrate Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

Members of the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association (PCRA) will be conducting three Veterans History Project interviews at local restaurants, including at one site in New Jersey. Julie Wilson, a PCRA district director said the association has both freelance and official court reporters from Chester, Bucks, Lancaster, and Philadelphia counties volunteering to interview and transcribe the stories of the veteran participants.

The winner of the 2016 NCSA challenge, Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from San Antonio, Texas, said members in her city have already participated in 18 school demonstrations and have an additional eight more planned for later in the spring. Uviedo plans to exceed last year’s number of 26 school demonstrations to once again earn NCSA’s top honors.

The competition for the NCSA challenge closes Feb. 18. Anyone participating in a qualifying event can receive credit for it by documenting their efforts at the NCSA contest site. All entries will automatically be entered into the contest. There is no limit to the number of contest entries states can have. Click on the NSCA challenge registration site to register your event.

The ways to celebrate 2017 Court Reporting & Captioning Week are unlimited. To learn more how you can celebrate the week or to find the latest in resources, including press release templates, media pitches, presentations, and more, visit the Resource Center on NCRA.org or contact the NCRA communications team at pr@ncra.org. And don’t forget to share with NCRA how you celebrate.

Nueces County judges form committee to research court reporters’ salaries

jcr-publications_high-resAccording to an article posted Jan. 29 by the Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller-Times, state district judges formed a committee earlier in January. The committee will research salaries of court reporter positions in other areas and look into ways to increase Nueces County, Texas, offers.

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LeTourneau University to host “Law as a Career Day”

jcr-publications_high-resLeTourneau University, Longview, Texas, is holding “Law as a Career Day” on Feb. 16 for college and high school students interested in legal careers, according to a Dec. 19 article in the Tyler Morning Telegraph. Law, paralegal, and court reporting schools will be at the event to provide information and answer questions about their programs. The university is also hosting a formal court session of the Texas Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in two cases.

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