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First of its kind, NCRA A to Z program for iPad users offered online

Carolyn Ruiz Coronado, RPR, right, with her daughter Demi

Beginning Feb. 23, Carolyn Ruiz Coronado, RPR, an official court reporter with the 151st Civil District Court in Houston, Texas, will be leading an NCRA A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program for iPad users only. For $20, participants can purchase the iStenoPad app, which allows you to download a steno keyboard onto an iPad and functions like a steno machine, scaled to exact steno keyboard size. The class is the first of its kind to be offered to iPad users only and will be offered twice a week for three weeks; each session will last two hours. The regular A to Z course runs for one hour per week for six weeks. Registration for the iPad course closes Feb. 16.

Coronado, who has been a court reporter for 23 years, is a graduate of Houston Community College. She said she first heard about the profession while working for Exxon Company, USA, when a temporary employee mentioned that she wanted to go to court reporting school. Coronado inquired about the program and said it has been one of the best decisions she’s made in her life.

A member of NCRA’s A to Z Committee, Coronado has led eight A to Z programs, including one via the Zoom platform during the past three years. She said she loves recruiting for the profession and has attended many high school career days and other such events to promote the profession.

The JCR Weekly reached out to Coronado to find out more about what motivates her to volunteer to lead A to Z programs and share her thoughts about an iPad-users-only class.

JCR | Why is NCRA’s A to Z program so important to the future of the court reporting and captioning profession?

CC | This program not only helps us to promote this unique and vital profession, but most importantly, it serves as a great tool for recruiting serious and talented prospects. This program gives participants an opportunity to understand what court reporting and captioning entails as well as learn how to write on a steno keyboard. It is the perfect opportunity to help individuals make their decision as to whether this is a career they would like to pursue.

JCR | This is the first time that NCRA’s A to Z program will be offered to iPad users only. What do you think will be some of the benefits of this method?

CC | I am excited that NCRA is offering an A to Z program for iPad users and thrilled to lead this method online! There are benefits for both the leaders of the program and the participants. At times it has been a challenge to acquire steno machines and equipment, and another challenge has been retrieving all equipment at the end of each program. With participants having their own iPad, we will not have this issue. The program leaders and participants will not have to spend time meeting up to distribute and retrieve equipment. There will be no steno machine loaner forms to handle and no risk of losing or breaking equipment. There will not be a steno machine inventory spreadsheet to maintain. This method will be more efficient for leaders and co-leaders to coordinate and facilitate. 

Taking advantage of an application that is available for download at a one-time cost of $20 to the participant is a very convenient method of learning the steno keyboard. Participants will be able to keep the iStenoPad to practice even after the program is complete. If the participant decides to pursue an education in court reporting and captioning, they will have this app available to practice their theory and speed on the go because they will be able to load their personal dictionary into the iStenoPad.

JCR | How will the iPad program differ in terms of teaching versus participants using a real steno machine?

CC | While it is true that learning on an actual steno machine is optimal, with iStenoPad, participants will still be able to learn the steno alphabet, numbers, and words. Teaching the NCRA A to Z ® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand book will be no different. Since we will not have to train participants on how to use different types of steno machines, we will spend less time on setting up. The iStenoPad is so easy to use that it will only take about five minutes to review. The only feature we will need to change for purposes of going through the A to Z program is to turn off the dictionary by clicking on the settings button, then clicking on “View Dictionaries,” and unchecking any dictionaries that have been preselected. We want the participants to view only the steno. The other features on the app are personal preferences, such as choosing the text size, key style, wide keys, colors, and backgrounds. I think everyone will find this to be a user-friendly app. I encourage the participants to keep their nails short, and if they are able to purchase a rubber steno keyboard to help their fingers from slipping on the iPad, it might be worth investing.

JCR | Do you think the experience of the participants will be similar to the traditional programs or differ, and how so?

CC | I think the experience of the participants will be similar to the traditional program as far as learning the steno, but it will be much more convenient using an iPad and attending virtually for several reasons. It will be convenient in that they will be able to attend from the comfort of their own home or office; they will not have to carry an expensive steno machine and be liable for it if it gets lost or stolen; and the iPad will be easy to transport. With some older steno machines that use paper, it is difficult to read the steno notes. With the iStenoPad, they will not have trouble reading their steno notes. This method will continue to have guest speakers attend virtually to give the participants more insight into all areas of court reporting and captioning.

Facilitating a program virtually and utilizing the iStenoPad has made this so much easier. Let’s help to increase school enrollment and assist with the shortage of court reporters nationwide. If we team up with a colleague, we can be successful in achieving these goals!

Carolyn Ruiz Coronado can be reached at Coronado adds that she hopes more court reporters and captioners will volunteer to assist with NCRA’s A to Z program.