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.

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.

Practice, practice, practice

Doug Zweizig

This post from Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR, of Baltimore, Md., was originally posted in the Facebook group “Encouraging Court Reporting Students.”  He was the Realtime Contest champion at the recent 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo.

Hey, all. I’ll admit to being somewhat lazy since getting back from the NCRA Convention in Denver. I’ve still been practicing every day, but not as hard as I was up until about a week ago.

I’ve been a reporter for 30 years now (that’s tough to say), and I’d never really practiced all that much outside of school. Maybe the month before a contest, I’d do 10-12 hours of practice.

In school, however, we had mandatory steno homework every night, weekend, holiday, semester break. It made no difference, you had to practice no matter what, or you could leave.

About six months ago I had some inspiration which came from several different people (most positive, one negative). No matter how good I think I am, how many certs I hold, contests won or placed highly in, I still should be honing my skill, staying sharp. And, frankly, I got somewhat complacent and figured, well, I have a high skill level, so why should I? Yeah, my mother would’ve slapped me if I said that out loud in her presence.

Anyway, I decided that I was going to start to practice every single day, and it didn’t matter if I was in trial or super busy. It just so happens that I was in trial, several of them (one pretty long one), but I still practiced before or after court and on the weekends too. I came pretty close to breaking my ankle during this time (it ended up being a VERY bad sprain), but I still practiced even when I had to get around on crutches while wearing an Aircast. 

And after maybe a month, I started to notice a difference in court. Keep in mind that I’ve always been fast. I’m probably faster than the great majority of reporters, frankly. But there’s just something about practicing sustained dictation that really helped me. When I started to realize that, I knew I had to keep at it.

There’s so much more to being a reporter than just speed, but you’ve got to have that as a foundation or the rest just won’t matter.

And FYI, I was blown away by some of the practice. I mean blown away. I keep a practice log, an extremely detailed one, and I can tell you there’s some very ungentlemanly language in there beside some of the entries. But keeping the log is so important to me. I was able to see that a specific take absolutely blew me away a month ago. Two weeks later, it was a little better. Three weeks later, I nailed it!

So, in my opinion, that’s a good way of holding yourself accountable and keeping track of your progress.

I have to proofread a short hearing, and then I am going to be practicing before leaving the office.

Today will be Day 179, consecutive, of practice for me!  I’m going to keep up that streak for as long as I possibly can😇😇.

Two Angels Win Trips

By Jill Parker Landsman

Two National Court Reporters Foundation Angel donors will be packing their bags after they each won a weeklong vacation. Lori M. Bryant, RPR, CRR, from San Antonio, Texas, will be heading to Mexico, and Karen L. Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC, from Shreveport, La., will be enjoying a trip to Lake Tahoe.

The trips were prizes in the drawing for current NCRF donors who have donated a minimum of $1,000 to NCRF within the year, earning the “Angel” status. NCRA and NCRF Interim Executive Director Dave Wenhold selected the two winners during the Facebook Live random drawing on Sept. 4.

Wenhold thanked the more than 120 eligible Angel donors for their generous support. “Your donation will allow us to continue with the Oral History Program, the A to ZTM scholarships, and some new scholarships that we will offer in 2020,” he said.

“I am astonished to have won this amazing Mexican getaway,” Bryant said. “I just wanted to donate and give back to this wonderful profession that has allowed me 30 years of great opportunities. And to find out that I was in a drawing and won, I was just not expecting it. Thank you, NCRF, for this wonderful gift.  This profession is so worthy of giving back to even without winning a prize.”

Tyler learned her good news from her assistant, as she was reporting a case when the call came in. “I am beyond thrilled to have won this opportunity to spend time in Lake Tahoe,” she said. “My husband and I have never been.  We have often talked about making this trip, and now it’s a reality! I can’t wait to thank Sandy for this generous donation to the Angels foundation. I am proud to be a member of this outstanding group of stenographers!”

Wenhold also thanked the two Foundation supporters who donated the vacations: Denise Paternoster, who offered the Mexican resort trip; and Sandy Vanderpol, FAPR, RMR, CRR, who offered the Lake Tahoe trip.

The National Court Reporters Foundation oversees Oral History Programs for Veterans History, Holocaust Survivors, Legal Aid History, and Hard-of-Hearing Heroes. In addition, NCRF offers a recognition award, a VIP luncheon for Angel donors, scholarships, and professional networking with like-minded court reporters and captioners. For more information, contact Jill Parker Landsman at jlandsman@ncra.org.

Get those CEUs now

Sept. 30 marks the end of NCRA’s 2019 education cycle. Don’t be left without the CEUs you need to maintain your certification. NCRA members with cycles ending in 2019 have a number of quick-and-easy ways to earn CEUs in the time remaining. Below is a quick list of ways you can be sure to earn what you need at your convenience.

  • Watch the JCR Weekly and your email for information about upcoming live webinars and e-seminars. Webinars and e-seminars represent the most convenient way to earn CEUs when and where you need them. NCRA’s library of webinars and e-seminars is the easiest way to find the latest offerings. Webinars are live presentations from industry professionals on various professional and industry-related topics, and e-seminars feature recorded video and downloadable handout materials and allow you to access the best presentations from past NCRA events and webinars.
  • Attend a pre-approved event, including state association conferences, and earn CEUs while catching up with old friends and making new ones during educational sessions and networking opportunities. Many state associations and other court reporter-related organizations are hosting conferences and seminars in September. Most events are one to three days, and many of them are in the first half of the month. Check out the full calendar of pre-approved events on NCRA’s website.
  • Did you know that if you learn CPR or first aid, you can earn CEUs? The American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and other organizations often host seminars on CPR or first aid. Perhaps you can organize a few colleagues from your firm, court, or even your local area to team up for an event nearby. Court reporters and captioners have to be prepared for anything, so why not add safety to your list of skills?
  • Transcribe an oral history for the National Court Reporters Foundation program. Members who participate in the Oral Histories Program through NCRF may earn Professional Development Credits for their time. Members can apply up to 1.0 PDC to their CEU requirement per cycle. Transcribe a 30- to 90-minute pre-recorded interview of an American veteran, Holocaust survivor, or attorney who has provided pro bono services through Legal Aid. Many people find participating in the Oral Histories Program to be especially rewarding. Learn more about the Oral Histories Program by visiting the NCRF page on the NCRA website.
  • You may have already participated in activities that have helped you earn CEUs or PDCs during the last year, and the only thing you need to do is fill out the proper form to get credit. If you promoted the profession at a career fair, law school, or other event; provided pro bono services; served on a state association board or committee (including the United States Court Reporting Association); or participated in a formal mentoring program, you may qualify for credit for your volunteerism. To learn more, visit the Continuing Education page on the NCRA website.

Finally, go through your records to see if any educational opportunities were somehow overlooked. Classes should be closely related to court reporting and not paid for by your employer. If the event was held in the past three years, it may be worth the time to see if it might be CEU-worthy.

Learn more about how you can keep that certification you worked so hard to earn by visiting the Continuing Education page on NCRA’s website.

Did you know that if you will not complete your CEUs by Sept. 30, you may request a four-month extension for your continuing education deadline from Sept. 30 to Jan. 31 of the following year? By Sept. 30, complete the CEU Cycle Extension form and pay a $99 processing fee. You can view your transcript or submit CEUs and PDCs online. If you have recently attended a seminar, submitted an individual request for credit, or applied for a cycle extension, the event may not yet be reflected on your transcript. Please allow 8-10 business days from the date of submission for credit to appear on your transcript. In cases where a third-party seminar sponsor reports attendance to NCRA, the sponsor may take up to 30 days after the event to submit credit.

Renew early to win

Members who renew their NCRA membership by Sept. 30, 2019, will be entered into a drawing to win a $300 Amazon gift card. In addition, you’ll be in the running for any of the other smaller prizes offered in October. Renewing early and online helps NCRA save money by decreasing printing and mailing costs and keeps your Association functioning smoothly.

NCRA membership includes many great benefits:

  • Subscriptions to the JCR Magazine and the JCR Weekly
  • Access to multiple certification programs with discounts on Written Knowledge and online Skills Tests
  • A listing in the NCRA Sourcebook, the largest directory of court reporters, captioners, legal videographers, court reporting instructors, and proofreaders and scopists
  • Access to discounted group insurance programs through Mercer for business and personal insurance including liability and errors and omissions
  • Significant savings on can’t-miss networking and educational events at the NCRA Business Summit (Feb. 9-11, 2020) and the NCRA Convention & Expo (Aug. 6-9, 2020) 
  • First-class online educational opportunities

Members who renew in September enjoy the following benefits:

  • It’s green; less mail to you.
  • It’s clutter-free; fewer reminder emails to your inbox.
  • It’s beneficial; your benefits are not interrupted.

Renewing is easy and available online at NCRA.org/renew or by calling 800-272-6272.

O’Brien & Levine earns top rankings for third consecutive year

In a press release issued Sept. 5, the court reporting firm O’Brien & Levine, Boston, Mass., announced that it was voted “Best of the Best” for its services by readers of the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly for the third consecutive year.

Read more.

Preparing for that first court reporting assignment

In a blog posted Sept. 5 by JD Supra, Planet Depos shared with court reporting interns a number of  tips to help them transition from their student role to the official reporter on any assignment.

Read more.

Study suggests fixing gender funding gap would boost global economy

NBC affiliate Channel 41 in Kansas City, Mo., aired a story on Sept. 2 that quotes NCRA member Lauren Lawrence, creator of Stenovate, a platform that simplifies the court reporting process and allows editors, reporters and proofreaders to work more efficiently and save time.

Watch the story.

New Professional Profile: Tiffany Nicole Headley

Tiffany Nicole Headley

Tiffany Nicole Headley is a CART provider/court reporter in Deatsville, Ala. She and her husband have three sons. Evan, the oldest, is living in Mobile, Ala., attending the University of South Alabama. Ethan is almost 16, and Elijah is 11. She also has five pets: three dogs, a cat, and a horse.  She graduated from Prince Institute in Montgomery, Ala., in December of 2012.

JCR | What year did you start doing CART?

TH | August of 2012 while still in school.

JCR | What year did you obtain your Alabama CCR?

TH | I believe it was October of 2016.

JCR | When did you begin freelancing?

TH | I’ve always freelanced.  In CART it is considered freelancing as well.  We are independent contractors just like court reporters, but I started freelance reporting in November of 2016.

JCR | How did you get introduced to court reporting and what made you want to become one? 

TH | I was first introduced to court reporting after I graduated high school in 1998.  My younger sister’s best friend was Sarah Prince’s granddaughter, and she told me about the school because I had mentioned a time or two that I was thinking about going into the legal field, but I was unsure for what. I checked into it, and it seemed like the perfect fit for my future plans career-wise and family-wise, but the timing wasn’t right since my husband and I were getting married in January of 1999.  I did, however, start in 2001 for the first time, but I had to leave in 2003 due to pregnancy and the stress it was putting on me.

After a few years, I still wanted to pursue it, and I enrolled after our family was complete.  So I went back at 28 years old with a family of five with three kids who all were involved in some sport or activity at some point throughout my schooling.  I attended online for the first year, and throughout the program, I did online and in-house classes.

JCR | You’ve done CART and transitioned into freelance reporting. Has that been a difficult transition? Do you have any advice for someone else looking to do the same?

TH |
It was very difficult at first for several reasons. The travel, multiple speakers, random places that you have to take depos, and getting transcripts done was a huge change for me.  As a full-time CART Provider, I worked from home the majority of the time, and I only traveled a few times a year.  

As far as adjusting to multiple speakers, CART is more like doing a Lit take than a Q&A. It’s a lot easier to get into a rhythm with CART to me.  Basically, you have one professor and the occasional student asking a question.  Most of you know, that’s very different in the court reporting field. You can have multiple voices, so it’s keeping up with who said what, constant back and forth, along with interruptions and/or everyone talking over each other, etc.

I will say, though, that I believe that transcripts were the biggest adjustment for me.  When you do CART, you don’t always have to turn a transcript in. If you do, you simply have to do a quick spellcheck, scanstop, and look over it to make sure you paragraphed properly and used the right punctuation.  It is more pressure because you are writing realtime all the time. There is someone on the other end depending on you for their education.  You really need to be on it.  Those people need you producing clear and concise captions at that very moment.  There is not much room for error.  The student/consumer may or may not be reading it later. 

When producing transcripts for depositions and court, it is very different and so much more involved.  You have to go back over your work with a fine-toothed comb with audio backup, if you use it.  The scoping, then proofreading, and making sure that the record is 100 percent accurate. You are listening to the same material over and over again.  Needless to say, that was very exhausting at first.

As far as advice I have for someone transitioning:  Make sure you keep a lot of court reporter mentors and friends in your circle. I promise they are valuable resources when making that change. In all honesty, if it was not for my court reporting mentors and friends, I would’ve probably given up on this a long time ago. It is just such a different realm for me. You definitely have to stay super focused on the task at hand and manage your time wisely so your work is turned in in a timely manner so the transcripts are returned to the client on time. Remember they have a deadline too, and they need their records to review before going further with a case.

JCR | What’s your must-have in your bag?

TH | For court reporting it is my water, long extension cord, exhibit stickers, and pens.

For CART it is an extension cord and multiple connection cables, i.e. HDMI cord, high-speed USB plug, a converter plug for projectors that may still be old school and require those bulky plugs with the thumb screw, and my handy-dandy USB Type-C Multi-Adapter.  At any given time, you could have several things plugged in at one time, and newer computers don’t always have multiple USB ports.

JCR | Tell me the best piece of advice you’ve received from another court reporter that you’d love to pass along.

TH | There’s been so many things that have been helpful. I have a great circle, but there are two big things I’ve learned. First of all, do not be afraid to clarify what someone is saying if you don’t understand them and/or stopping the attorneys from talking over one another during proceedings.  Second, never become too reliant on your audio backup. Always have a fail-safe because electronics fail, so make sure you have a backup for your backup.

NCRA PAC fundraiser doubles last year’s draw

Greta Duckett, RPR, CRR, won the Ohio basket.

The second Gift Basket Extravaganza sponsored by NCRA’s Government Relations Department to benefit the Association’s PAC (Political Action Committee) drew nearly double the number of participants and raised more than $4,000. Twenty unique baskets in total were donated to support the fundraising event held at the Association’s 2019 Convention & Expo that took place in Denver, Colo., Aug. 15-18.

Baskets were donated by the following:

  • Alabama Court Reporters Association
  • Arizona Court Reporters Association
  • California Court Reporters Association
  • California Deposition Reporters Association
  • California Official Court Reporters Association
  • Colorado Court Reporters Association
  • Depo International (had a Minnesota basket)
  • Florida Court Reporters Association
  • Maryland Court Reporters Association
  • Mississippi Court Reporters Association
  • NCRA
  • New York State Court Reporters Association
  • Ohio Court Reporters Association
  • Oklahoma Court Reporters Association
  • South Dakota Court Reporters Association
  • Tennessee Court Reporters Association
  • Utah Court Reporters Association
  • Virginia Court Reporters Association
  • West Virginia Shorthand Reporters Association
  • Wisconsin Court Reporters Association

Items ranged from bottles of wine, cheeses, various snacks, baked goods, Fiestaware, beach items, and more. NCRA’s basket featured Washington, D.C., memorabilia.

According to Jocelynn Moore, NCRA’s Director of State Government Relations, the basket donated by the Maryland Court Reporters Association included a gift certificate for fresh blue crabs to be shipped to the winner’s home, while the Ohio state association participated with a large and a small basket worth about $700 total that included boxes for the winners to use to ship the contents home. In addition, the Florida association’s basket included a $300 gift certificate for a new case from Stenograph.

Other notable baskets include the one from Tennessee which included bottles of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, the California basket which featured Stags’ Leap wine, a Los Angeles Lakers basketball, and a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball. NCRA’s basket had items that were all purchased from inside the U.S. Senate.

“I was very impressed with the dedication and effort put forth by the many state associations that donated baskets for our annual NCRA PAC Basket Extravaganza. With the help of the state associations and donors, we were able to raise more than double the amount of funds we raised last year,” Moore said. “This is a huge success for NCRA PAC, and I’m hoping we take this momentum into next year’s NCRA PAC fundraiser.”