On Oct. 11 Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to discuss an array of issues. Throughout the interview, the senator relied on captioning provided by NCRA member and StenoCaptions captioner Emily Nicholson, RPR, from Staten Island, N.Y., who was kind enough to grant an interview to the JCR Weekly on how it was to work with the senator and be on the set of the CBS show.
JCR | Has Sen. Fetterman helped raise awareness of the captioning community?
Emily Nicholson (EN) | Definitely. By being so transparent about his use of captioning, he’s bringing a lot of awareness around it and helping to destigmatize it.
JCR | How did you learn about captioning? What did you have to do to become certified?
EN | I learned about captioning through a presentation at my court reporting college by a CART captioner. Once I graduated, I reached out to that speaker. He and his business partner made sure I was ready to caption and gave me my first captioning job. I have continued to work with their company ever since.
JCR | Has being a member of NCRA helped you professionally?
EN | Yes. Receiving my RPR right after graduating gave me more credibility before I had a chance to build my reputation.
JCR | Can you explain the different kinds of captioning services available for those who aren’t familiar with the field?
EN | You can provide Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) captioning in many different settings from universities to meetings, conferences, anywhere someone would like to have captions. You can have them provided to just one individual, or they can be projected for large events and conferences. There is also broadcast captioning where captioners provide captions for live television programs.
JCR | In terms of different events you’ve worked, what has been your favorite and why?
EN | Captioning for Sen. Fetterman on The Late Show is definitely one of my favorite events so far. I also love captioning in universities where I’m working one-on-one with students in their classes.
JCR | How was it captioning for a television show on a national network?
EN | It was a great experience and different from my usual day-to-day jobs. I was captioning directly for Sen. Fetterman during his interview, so I was excited to be able to provide him with accurate and timely captions that would allow him to feel more comfortable.
JCR | What would you say to someone who is considering a career in captioning?
EN | I would say to absolutely pursue it. It is a very rewarding career, and there is something different to learn at every job.
JCR | If you could go back and tell yourself something, whether as a student or young professional, what would it be?
EN | I would say to really have confidence in yourself to do the jobs that scare you. As long as you build your dictionary, work on speedbuilding, and prepare as best you can for every job, you can do it.
JCR | Sen. Fetterman’s use of captioning has been scrutinized by pundits and politicians alike. Why do you think that is?
EN | I believe it is because people will see it as a hindrance to him and believe it will not allow him to be as effective as possible, but that’s really unfortunate and further stigmatizes the use of captions.
JCR | Can you walk us through your process for a job like this? What do you have to do to prepare?
EN | I prepared by making sure I had dictionary entries for any relevant events that have happened recently. I also watched clips from The Late Show so I could be more familiar with his speech. Prepping your dictionary very well reduces any hesitation in your writing which is really important when it comes to keeping up with speakers.
Emily Nicholson, RPR, is a captioner based in the greater New York metropolitan area. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.