NCRF announces new initiative for veterans who are hard of hearing

hard-of-hearing-com-smBy April Weiner

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) is pleased to announce a new initiative as part of its Oral Histories Program: the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project. This project aims to capture the personal experiences of veterans with hearing loss for the Veterans History Project (VHP) through the use of CART captioning.

Given the success of the recent Purple Heart VHP Day at the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo, NCRF staff considered how to reach other subsets of veterans for the VHP, and the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project was born.

“Since 2003, NCRF has collaborated with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project to both complete oral history interviews of our nation’s war veterans and to transcribe those interviews, providing a helpful tool for researchers,” said Karen Lloyd, director of the Veterans History Project. “The VHP is excited to learn of NCRF’s new endeavor to participate in the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project. By interviewing veterans who are hard of hearing , NCRF is reaching a group of veterans – who have been previously underserved – to tell their stories and have them preserved at the Library of Congress.”

Hearing loss is among the most common service-related injuries, according to the Veterans Administration, which can be attributed to the constant exposure to high noise levels in both training and combat operations. The stats continue to worsen as weaponry has become more advanced in more recent conflicts. In fact, 60 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer some form of hearing loss, according to the Hearing Health Foundation.

“I appreciated being able to share my dad’s Purple Heart story at our Purple Heart Day in Chicago, and as it turns out, he also suffered a partial hearing loss from a shell going off in his immediate vicinity during combat,” said Nancy Hopp, RDR, CRR, CMRS, NCRF Chair, from St. Louis, Mo. “This is a common affliction among those who have served in war zones, which is why the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project will be beneficial in ensuring that all veterans have the opportunity to share their stories for the VHP.”

At a typical VHP Day, multiple veterans are individually interviewed simultaneously while a court reporter takes the interview down live. For the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project, the process will be the same with the addition of a CART captioner to provide realtime for the veteran who is hard of hearing.

“The Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project is a natural convergence of our current partnership with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project and the services that court reporters and captioners provide individuals who are hard of hearing on a daily basis,” said Mike Nelson, CEO & Executive Director of NCRA and NCRF. “The written record of these veterans’ interviews not only provides a searchable database that is used for research purposes by students, archivists, and Congress, but the interviews help us get a sense of the struggles of war and the sacrifices our protectors have made to guard our freedoms. We as a nation and society are so indebted to our veterans and so grateful for their selfless service.”

NCRF will work with hearing loss and veterans organizations to recruit veterans with hearing loss to be interviewed at VHP Days hosted by NCRF, as well as those conducted by reporters across the country. One of these partner organizations is the Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA).

“NCRF and ALDA have worked collaboratively for more than 25 years to provide realtime text translation (CART) for deafened adults,” said Steve Larew, president of ALDA. “Statistics have shown there might be 900,000 veterans with acquired hearing loss, and we are pleased to be part of this project that will allow them to share their stories as well as provide the opportunity for them to meet other adults and veterans with hearing loss.”

NCRF will host a kickoff event of its own during the 2017 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, Feb. 11-18, and encourages other firms and individuals to do the same.

“Caption First has provided realtime captioning to individuals with hearing loss in their work and personal lives for over 27 years. Our focus is to bring both access and dignity to persons with hearing loss. Deafness so often cuts people off, and reasonable accommodations reconnect them,” said Pat Graves, RDR, CRR, CRC, founder and president of Caption First, from Monument, Colo. “Millions of veterans have returned from war with hearing loss, which is why linking them with the skills of realtime captioners is the perfect vehicle for capturing their personal stories for the Veterans History Project. We look forward to our involvement in this worthy endeavor and encourage other CART captioners across the country to participate as well.”

While NCRF will kick off the project in February, reporters are encouraged to get involved with the VHP now, especially to honor veterans around Veterans Day.

April Weiner is NCRF’s Foundation Manager, who can be reached at aweiner@ncra.orgMore information on NCRF’s Hard-of-Hearing Heroes VHP Day will be announced in upcoming NCRA publications.