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Share these videos to promote the profession

“I can go to any city I want,” Isaiah Roberts

Just in time for 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning week, NCRA has  released a series of shareable videos that promote the profession from the perspectives of a variety of stenographers with different stories about how they got started, why they love what they do, and how the profession has enhanced their lives.

Share these videos on social media and email them to your friends to spread the word about the opportunities in this field. It’s a great thing to do this week or anytime you want to promote the profession.

Just in time for 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning week, we have new videos ready to share. You might have seen them on the NCRA Facebook page this week. The videos show NCRA members saying why they love what they do. They highlight the different reasons being a court reporter or captioner is a great career choice.

We urge you to share these videos on social media to spread the word about all the opportunity in our field. It’s a great thing to do this week or anytime you want to promote the profession.

The videos are:

Nothing can compare to this job with Pam and Danielle Griffin

I was so lucky to stumble upon this job with Nancy Hopp

It’s a career that I absolutely love with Charrise Kitt

Seated close to former President Obama with Steve Clark

You can grow this career to anything you need it to be with Merilee Johnson

I can go to any city I want with Isaiah Roberts

If you know people interested in taking the first steps to a career in court reporting or captioning, send them to

NPR sued for lack of closed captioning on videos reported on Oct. 15 that National Public Radio is being sued by a man who claims the network discriminates against the deaf and hard-of-hearing by not providing closed captioning of videos on its website.

Read more.

NCRA Board candidates’ videos now online

Your vote counts. There are three positions coming up for the election at the August NCRA Annual Business Meeting. The positions are Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, and one of the director’s positions for the 2016-2017 Board of Directors.
The candidates for Vice President are Doreen Sutton, RPR, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Sue A. Terry, RPR, CRR, Springfield, Ohio.
The candidates for Secretary-Treasurer are Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, Woodland, Utah, and Michele Melhorn York, RMR, Washington, D.C.
The two candidates who are running for one of the three-year director positions are Christine Phipps, RPR, North Palm Beach, Fla., and Huey Bang, RMR, CRR, Pass Christian, Miss.
Learn about each candidate on the NCRA website, including their biographies and the candidate questionnaires. As a voting member, you can also view each candidate’s video. Click NCRA 2016 Election Center and log in with your member ID# and password.
Voting will open Aug. 4, 2016, for 12 hours following the NCRA Annual Business Meeting. Members who are eligible to vote will receive an email in advance with information on how to vote.
Please make sure that we have an active email address for you in our database by July 15. Contact the Member Services and Information Center at 800-272-6272, or update your NCRA account at Look for “Renew or update your record” under the Membership Tools category.

Videos a tool at criminal sentencings

Some lawyers have found that videos can be an effective tool in getting better sentences for clients, according to a May 29 article in the Wall Street Journal. The trend for lawyers is to provide, in addition to supplemental letters, privately made videos featuring a defendant’s family and friends giving their support and explaining the defendant’s importance to the community. The article says that these videos are having an effect, although they fall into a gray area of the law.

Read more. adds closed captioning to instructional videos

The recently reported that, an online video-based resource for parents of children with disabilities, now features closed captioning on all of their educational videos.

“We are always looking for opportunities to increase access to all people with disabilities, and closed captioning provides an enormous benefit to our community, said Julie Swanson, special education advocate and YSER cofounder.

Read more.

NCRA responds to comments on MSNBC

Recently MSNBC news anchor Brian Williams and former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) made comments on MSNBC about stenographers in the U.S. Senate. A post on the NCRA Facebook page responded. NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, also responded in a video, and a letter was sent to national news outlets. For more information about how NCRA has mobilized to promote stenography, visit our NCRA STRONG webpage.

NCRA’s Facebook post: “MSNBC, the most technologically advanced method of capturing the spoken word and producing a record is the stenographic reporter. An accurate record is more important than ever today. And the best way to get the most accurate record is that stenographer on the floor of the Senate and House who reports the proceedings in realtime (instant translation as the reporter is writing). Their realtime transcripts create the daily Congressional Record printed by the government printing office. Claire McCaskill, as a former senator, you should appreciate the job they do in getting the record quickly and accurately. Brian Williams, those stenographers have been working nearly nonstop since October. No other method would be able to keep the record with so many people talking at the same time. The stenographers are really the unsung heroes in the impeachment trial. #discoversteno #ncrastrong

Some of the responses NCRA has received on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are highlighted below.

“For decades, it has been our job to go about our duty quietly and unnoticed while doing an amazing job. I think we’ve discovered in the last few years that it’s very important to talk about the job we are doing and how we do it. What a great opportunity this affords us to educate, inform, and recruit.”

Amy Doman, RPR, CRR, a freelancer from Carmel, Ind.

“Thanks for this response, NCRA. This is a teaching moment. The next step is to offer to show Brian Williams how much goes into our job.

“In some ways, Williams was simply doing his job by asking the question. Stanley Sakai wrote an article just last week, and the headline he put on it was almost word for word what Williams asked.”

Ksenija Zeltkalns, RPR, a freelancer in Topeka, Kan.

“Just watching these hearings as a stenography student made me really appreciate the reporters who are in the front lines of recording the spoken word at such a critical time in our history. You are all truly an inspiration!”

Lynn Mackey

“What an incredible opportunity to educate the masses about our profession. It saddens me (boggles my mind?!) that a news anchor and former senator, of all people, have zero idea what we do and why we do it the way we do.”

Kim Sziva Johnson

“Do they even realize the closed captioning of what they just said on their program is being done by an ‘old-fashioned’ stenographer??”

Robin Kulhanek Day

“Seems like a teachable moment for those who are completely clueless about what we do!”

Alexa Goldman

“They definitely need to be educated. It’s too bad those statements were made for all to hear. They just spread the ignorance to the masses.”

Heather Holden

“YYYAAAYY!! Interview a court reporter and see what it takes. A LOT of hard work!!!”

Lindsay Moon

“I operated a court reporting school for 15 years. Hearing anyone speak like this of court reporters is insulting to every one of them. You should educate yourself about what they do before denigrating the profession. Always speak from a place of knowledge.”

Sue Pratt

“Imagine if every single court reporter and captioner was a member of NCRA, and we could afford to spread this message far and wide. Please SHARE this with a smart reporter you know who isn’t yet a member with a personal invitation to join NCRA 2.0.”

Linda Hallworth, a freelancer from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Why you should network outside of your industry

By Megan Rogers

It’s important to build a network of colleagues and peers for advice, referrals, and support. But don’t limit your networking to only people with your same job. Especially if you’re a freelancer or firm owner (but even if you’re employed), it’s smart to develop relationships with people in client industries, parallel industries, and non-related industries.

Who to network with

Client industries: Your clients are the ones who hire for your services, but think beyond the obvious answers. There may be potential clients you’re not thinking of. Also, to identify your clients, you need to determine what, specifically, you specialize in.

If you’re an employee, think of the people who receive or are involved with your services as your clients. For example, if you’re an official, this might be a judge or court administrator.

Parallel industries: People in parallel industries do work that aligns with yours and who may have similar clients. For example, court reporters and legal videographers or captioners and sign language interpreters are in parallel industries.

Non-related industries: While steno is a unique skill, many of the other skills that court reporters and captioners need to develop are not, such as grammar, business, or technology skills. Getting to know people in non-steno-related industries, but who still have something in common with you, can expose you to new ideas that can help you professionally.

Where to meet people outside of your industry

The best way to meet people is to go where they go.

Go to their professional development and networking events: What are the associations that represent your clients? Attend their national or regional events and conferences or go to chapter social events.

Find local networking groups: Search on for a group, such as fellow freelancers, videographers, accessibility advocates, and more. Join a local Toastmasters International chapter or something similar.

Ask for introductions: Maybe your cousin’s neighbor is a paralegal, someone in your book club teaches English at the local college, or you have a current or former client or coworker who’s well-connected. Ask for an introduction and then an informal meeting, such as a coffee date.

Why to network outside of your industry

There are three important reasons why networking outside of your industry can help you professionally.

1. Build trust by connecting one-on-one with the people who will give you business: Just like you can get referrals from your peers, professionals in client or parallel industries can also give you referrals. People are more likely to hire someone they know than someone they’ve only heard of (or at least go to them first), so get to know the people who do the hiring for your services. Also, it’s good for you to have parallel professionals you can refer. If you’re hired for a depo, your client may ask if you know any legal videographers — having a list of professionals you trust makes for good customer service.

If you’re an employee, building your network will help if you ever need or want to change jobs or if you want to find more ways to grow professionally.

2. Learn more about what your clients care about: When you talk to people outside of your industry or attend their professional development sessions, you learn a lot: What are they passionate about? What do they struggle with? What are new trends in their industry? Then think about how you can insert yourself and your skills into being a solution for those passions, struggles, and trends. If you’re an employee, you still want to know what your internal clients care about so that you can make yourself more valuable and share new ideas with your boss and coworkers.

3. Get ideas for potential new services you can offer: When you become an expert in the industry you serve, you can brainstorm how your skills can lead to new services for your clients. Maybe you do conference captioning, and you hear that the conference organizers are starting to put video files of past sessions online — are those videos captioned? Can you partner with people in parallel industries, such as event videographers, to offer packages to joint clients?

Similarly, you can borrow ideas from professionals outside of your industry and apply them to your own. Maybe you learn about a new program that can streamline your finances or ideas for marketing your services or tips for handling a client disagreement.

Networking takes time, but it reaps long-term rewards. Expand your circle, and find all the ways a multifaceted network can make you a strong professional.

Megan Rogers is a freelance journalist and proofreader. She can be reached through her website,

Live captioner caught behind the scenes

Emcee making sure Wendy Osmond can hear the audience by applause

When Wendy Osmond, CRC, was captioning a recent tech conference, she was surprised when the speaker addressed her directly. Almost as surprised as the attendees, who hadn’t realized that the captions were being written by a live captioner.

Artur Ingelevic was attending the conference and tweeted about Osmond’s captioning.

“I was surprised. I have seen captions during other conferences and just thought that this was one of these algorithms that caption YouTube videos,” he said. “Then I thought, wow, this is really cool stuff these days.”

JCR | How long have you been a captioner and where do you usually work?

WO | I’ve been captioning for 13 years following a decade working as a court reporter in London.  I work mostly remotely from home in Wiltshire (UK).  My days are very varied, ranging from captioning live sports on TV, webcasts, work meetings, gallery tours, company reporting, lectures, conferences, etc.

JCR | What conference were you captioning for?

WO | This was a tech conference, and I was covering a day of it for White Coat Captioning.

JCR | What happened in this moment in the picture?

WO | There was a delay while speakers were changing over, so the MC was filling time and started talking to me.  When she asked if I could hear the audience, I thought that she was querying the audio quality and how well I could capture the audience remotely, but the photo gives the impression that I was milking applause for the captions!

JCR | How did you feel while it was happening?

WO | Quite embarrassed, actually.  I’m not the most outgoing of personalities and my hands started shaking, which was really annoying!  It’s difficult to take down what’s said, think of an appropriate response and steno at the same time.  It was fabulous to receive such lovely and immediate feedback, though, so there was a mix of panic and pride in that moment.

JCR | What kind of response have you gotten?

WO | There were some very generous tweets and there was also surprise that the captions were generated by human intelligence rather than AI.  Some delegates expressed an interest in hearing a lightning talk on how it all works.

 JCR | Anything else you would like to add?

 WO | I’m quite mindful of the importance of staying in role.  That said, I couldn’t ignore the MC and it’s great to spread the word that high-quality captions = humans.  I hope it was taken as a bit of fun on the day.

A message from NCRA’s President

Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC

I wanted to take an opportunity, as I conclude my year of service to you, our members, to thank you sincerely for the honor you’ve given me this year to serve as your NCRA President. 

The year has brought about adjustments in both our Board and headquarters operations, and you’ve been very supportive to our organization throughout the many changes. We’ve seen challenges emerging, but together, we’re making a difference in promoting and protecting the interests of stenographers nationwide.

To recap some of the year’s highlights, the NCRA STRONG Task Force has been sharing PowerPoints and other information and tools with our state leaders to help them promote increased awareness to the public of the important role stenographers play in both the court reporting and captioning professions.

The NCRA A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program has continued to expand, and we saw the introduction of the program into a high school in Texas, as well as the development of an online program for those with time and proximity constraints. A huge thanks is in order to all those who have volunteered to be a part of both the online and brick-and-mortar programs. It’s been a fun and engaging way to get the word out about our great profession. This effort has been helped by the generous assistance with machines by ProCAT and Stenograph, and by you, the members.

The NCRA A to Z program has also been aided by the introduction of the iStenoPad app by StenoCAT, which allows those who may not have access to a steno machine to participate in the program. If you’re considering hosting an NCRA A to Z program but don’t have access to machines, you can use the iStenoPad app as an alternative. Once you have downloaded and registered the iStenoPad app, a brief video will introduce you to the features that can be turned on or off.

During the ensuing year, NCRA intends to use our infrastructure to our advantage with the NCRA A to Z program, and that infrastructure is using our state affiliate associations around the country as boots on the ground to get this thing rolling successfully, full steam ahead. The NCRA A to Z Committee will be working directly with our National Committee of State Associations (NCSA) delegates, state by state, to help coordinate the rollout and implementation of the NCRA A to Z programs nationwide, along with direct guidance and assistance from NCRA’s leadership on the Board. 
If you’d like to donate to the NCRA A to Z program, please remember that there is only one way to do so, and that is through your donations to the National Court Reporters Foundation. You may request that your donation be earmarked for the A to Z program. There are other organizations with different introductory programs, but NCRA has only one program, and that is the A to Z. Donate here.

In addition to the NCRA A to Z and STRONG Task Forces, several new committees and task forces are being formed that will strengthen the positions of our videographers and scopists. This next year, we’ll have a committee focused on our social media strategies, and they will play a key role in disseminating positive information regarding our profession and will be actively involved in monitoring our social media accounts. Stay tuned for more details soon. 

Also, our NCSA governing board is being revamped to increase communication and participation of our state leaders, both with one another and with the Board. We feel that our state leaders are the integral ground force to identify and combat issues at the state level.
In closing, the nation’s largest gathering of the stenographic community is just around the corner, and it holds the promise of talented speakers, engaging content, and many opportunities to network with colleagues and meet and interact with our stellar NCRA staff. If you want to be among the first to receive the materials that the NCRA STRONG Task Force has been assembling and have access to some very cool products that will promote steno to your clients, make plans now to be at the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo in Denver August 15-18, 2019. Come and share your passion for our profession and renew your commitment to its future. While you’re there, please stop by our NCRA Board of Directors tables during the Opening Reception so that we may thank you in person for your choice to be a member of NCRA. 

In the spirit of NCRA 2.0, we will be streaming the live text of the NCRA Business Meeting, and members will be sent a link to observe the meeting if they cannot make it in person.

I’m looking forward to celebrating with Max Curry, RPR, CRI, our incoming NCRA President, and all of you as he and our amazing NCRA Board of Directors embark upon all the work necessary to accomplish great things. He has been an excellent President-Elect and always by my side, and I know he will serve us well.

My life has been blessed by the opportunity to represent you this year.

Signing off with all the love for a profession my heart can hold,

Sue A. Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC

President, National Court Reporters Association

Bringing captions to Coachella

Stan Sakai and Isaiah Roberts

By Heidi Renner

When Isaiah Roberts, RPR, Magnolia, Ill., thought he wrote the word lemon while captioning Ariana Grande’s performance at Coachella, he was a little concerned. Did she really say lemon? It turns out he was captioning the moment when someone in the crowd threw a lemon and hit Grande, which became a well-known moment at the music festival.

“I remembered writing lemon during Ariana’s performance and definitely thinking I misheard something,” he posted on Facebook. “Then my cab driver in LA today asked if I saw her get hit by the lemon, and instantly I felt a relief knowing why I did, in fact, write lemon followed by a bunch of expletives.”

Roberts and Stan Sakai, CRC, New York, N.Y., had the unique experience of captioning Coachella, an annual music festival in Indio, Calif. It is one of the biggest music festivals in the world. Then the next weekend they captioned Stagecoach, another music festival held in the same location. Roberts posted a video from Coachella that has been widely shared.

Roberts had looked at the ADA section of Coachella’s website and noticed it told people to reach out if they needed ASL or closed captioning. He sent an email asking if they offered captioning and who provided it? Coachella responded on a Monday saying they wanted to have a meeting to talk about it on Friday. Roberts called his friend Sakai, and they prepared for the meeting. Sakai had already built a website that allowed captioning to be accessed through an app. Sakai worked on making changes to his program to make it work with Coachella. Roberts said the two worked late into the night every night that week. They gave a demonstration Friday to the Coachella representatives over a video call.

“They were blown away,” Roberts said. The representatives recorded what they were seeing on the screen and then showed it to the festival directors. “We were on cloud nine,” Roberts said.

Sakai described it this way on Facebook: “After hundreds of hours of work, the Coachella and Stagecoach captioning systems are online and (nearly) ready to go! A five-server monstrosity spread across New York and California able to serve at peak 29,000 connections per minute, averaging 2,000 connections served per minute at saturation. This will be woven into their existing web and mobile platforms available to their 130,000 attendees, who will all be able to access the live captioning of mainstage performances right from their phones. As a team, Isaiah and I will be tag-teaming, between feeding out pre-scripted lyrics and live stenoing, handing off the baton depending on what’s thrown at us. And when people ask if technology will replace us, my answer to that is: no, we harness technology to keep us going!”

Because the captions were available through the festival app, they were available to everyone. All audience members were required to download the app to activate their wrist bands.

Isaiah Roberts

Roberts saw it as an opportunity to spread the word about court reporting and captioning.

“This is the thing I’m most excited about,” he said. “In trying to grow the profession, I speak to students, but does it really make the profession look appealing? Being at the major music festival really meant something.”

Rachel Meireis from Placentia, Calif., appreciated the captions. She had requested captioning at Stagecoach.

“I am late deafened,” Meireis said. “I lost my hearing in my 20s and wear bilateral cochlear implants to help me hear. But it can be iffy and makes it quite hard to know what’s going on at times. That situation gets complicated because I can sign but I am not fluent in ASL at all. Having access at the concert was amazing. I could keep up with what the performer said between songs and understand lyrics I have been hearing wrong on the radio. Having the captions stream to my phone was great too. It made me able to leave the ADA riser freely and move about the concert but still follow along. Stanley and Isaiah were so helpful and friendly though the whole process. I am very grateful they were able to make this work.”

Roberts said he had wondered who would be benefiting, and he was happy to meet Meireis. During Coachella there were 500 unique visitors viewing the captions. At Stagecoach, there were 400 on the first day. By the end of the weekend they had reached about 1,000 people.

“Hands down the best part was meeting Rachel and getting to meet a consumer of [the captioning],” Roberts said.

For the actual captioning, Roberts and Sakai would usually get a set list so they would look up lyrics ahead of time when possible. They had headphones directly hooked to the singer’s microphone. Sometimes the performer would start talking about other performers or the other people on stage with them, so Roberts and Sakai tried to prepare ahead of time for those things as much as they could. They worked together, captioning on both of their machines at the same time. Sometimes one person would write and the other would look up lyrics.

“It was as cool as I wanted it to be,” Roberts said. “I don’t know what could have gone better.”

Roberts urges other court reporters and captioners to make more of these opportunities happen. Coachella didn’t offer captioning until Roberts reached out to them.

“My takeaway is whatever event you are into, realize that under the ADA they need to offer this service,” Roberts said. “Advocate for yourself.”

Sakai and Roberts are hoping this is a beginning, and there will be more music festival work for them.

Sakai summarized the experience on Facebook: “COACHELLA RECAP: Between shoddy internet connections, knocked-over equipment from dudes getting tackled backstage, my laptop getting nailed by a flying rogue water bottle, or minor software issues, providing live captioning at Coachella was a resounding SUCCESS. Isaiah and I powered through and got the app online on all the monitors at the ADA platforms and on the official Coachella mobile app, captioned Spanish-language performers, and even spared a few moments to visit our friends. I’m still gobsmacked and star-struck by the weekend but can’t help to think that this is the beginning of something huge. We all worked hard but we’re both forever grateful for having had the opportunity to pioneer live-event captioning on this scale. A HUGE thank you to Isaiah for making this all possible, and as I’ve said before, I remain humbled and excited for what’s to come.”