Just 10 days left to take advantage of open enrollment for health insurance

By Natalie Dippenaar

In November, we provided a list of some of the more popular insurance products that NCRA makes available to members. Considered one of the top three reasons for joining NCRA, members have access to everything from equipment and liability insurance to pet insurance and healthcare plans. NCRA’s ongoing partnership with Mercer Health and Benefits Administration has made it easy for members and their families to get the protection they need at an economical price.

Open enrollment, the period of time each year when you can sign up for health insurance, varies depending on the healthcare plan you are looking for. The open enrollment period for healthcare plans in the individual market ends December 15. If you don’t sign up for health insurance during open enrollment, you usually cannot sign up until the next open enrollment period unless you experience a qualifying event. Qualifying events like getting married, getting divorced, the birth of a baby, or losing existing health coverage allow for a special enrollment period exception.

NCRA’s insurance platform, provided by Mercer Marketplace 365 and supported by GetInsured, is a tool to help you meet your healthcare needs, including whatever information you need on tax breaks or penalties, available coverage in your area, or to find out if a life event has changed your insurable status. Providing only basic non-identifying information, you can determine what plans are available to you and at what price. Each plan is scored based on your needs to help you find the best match. Of course, the final decision is yours. There is no commitment, and you can even use the website to comparison shop against an existing plan. Another great feature is the Health Insurance Basics area that explains many of the terms associated with insurance. Now is the time to investigate your options to make confident and informed decisions to protect you and your family at a rate that fits your budget.

Members are encouraged to visit GetInsured.com/NCRA or call 866-454-6479 as soon as possible, but by December 15, to find out more and take advantage of this opportunity to get insured for 2019. If you aren’t a member, consider whether this is something that makes an NCRA membership a worthwhile investment. Non-members can compare plans but won’t be able to enroll without being a current NCRA member.

If you don’t need health insurance, the end of the year is also a great time to review your other insurance needs and prepare for the year ahead. Consider visiting NCRAInsurance.com to see what products are available to you.

For more information
To see all NCRA insurance options available to you, please visit NCRAInsurance.com. See below for some of the more popular ways to find out more information about Mercer’s products.

  • For health insurance*, visit GetInsured.com/NCRA or call 866-454-6479 by December 15, 2018.
  • For Long-Term insurance, call 800-358-3795.
  • If you have general questions, call 800-503-9230.

*Please note: not all plans may be available in all states.

 

Natalie Dippenaar is NCRA’s Assistant Director of Member Relations.

NCRA member aids in animal rescues during California wildfires

Sherri Kuebler and her horse Taylor

When the Woolsey fire northwest of Los Angeles, Calif., burned nearly 97,000 acres before it was finally contained, it left in its wake not only a trail of devastation and heartbreaking loss of life but also stories of courageous volunteerism. NCRA member Sherri  L. Kuebler, RPR, a retired freelance court reporter from Chino Hills, Calif., was one such volunteer.

According to Kuebler, the ranch manager where she, her husband, and several of their friends board their horses, was contacted by a rescue group asking for volunteers with horse trailers to pick up various livestock in the Calabasas area where the Woolsey fire was headed.

“We had four horse trailers and approximately 12 volunteers who drove approximately 70 miles to a staging area where we coordinated with the Lost Hills Sheriff Department who escorted us into the danger zone and to one particular address where the owner was not able to get his animals out,” said Kuebler, a court reporter for 19 years who recently retired from her assignment to a felony trial courtroom at the North Justice Center in Fullerton.

“At this particular address, we rescued pigs, horses, peacocks, roosters, hens, guinea pigs and huge 400-pound turtles. We picked up two sheep who were running loose on the streets, and another homeowner just handed her horse to my ranch owner and said: ‘Please take her’,” she added.

Loading the scared animals into their slant-load horse trailers was pretty difficult, said Kuebler. “There were no cages to take from the property and these huge pigs were not cooperating. We finally got them into modified cages and trash cans on wheels and loaded them that way.

Kuebler said the volunteers were only able to make one trip due to the emerging fire and heavy smoke, but all the animals they did save were brought back to the ranch where they keep their horses. There, she said, some of the boarders bought cages and food for the rescues to help make them as comfortable as possible because they were very scared.

“Our ranch owners were kind enough to allow these rescues to stay as long as needed until they were reunited with their owners. Thank goodness all of them survived and have all been delivered back to their owners,” she said.

Kuebler, who can be contacted at sherrikuebler@verizon.net, said that donations to help support rescues such as the Woolsey fire one can be made directly to the El Rodeo Equestrian Center at 4449 Carbon Canyon Road, Brea, CA 92823.

Independent theater introduces captioning

The Daily Iowan reported on Dec. 2 that Iowa City’s independent theater, Film Scene, has introduced captioning in screenings to create a more equitable movie-going experience.

Read more.

A court reporter shortage: Critical field faces lack of new recruits

NCRA member Melissa Grimes, RPR, an official court reporter from Calhoun City, Miss., is quoted in an article posted by The Dispatch on Dec. 1 about the current shortage of court reporters. The article also mentions NCRA’s A to ZTM program.

Read more.

Take your German depositions to Amsterdam

A blog posted on Nov. 26 by JD Supra addresses the benefits of taking German depositions to The Netherlands.

Read more.

Griffin & Associates announces name change to Griffin Group International

Griffin & Associates, Arizona’s largest court reporting firm, announced in a press release issued Nov. 1 that the firm has changed its name to Griffin Group International and has introduced a new captioning service.

Read more.

The importance of reading back shorthand notes

By Kay Moody

Kay Moody

One of the key elements in developing speed and accuracy in machine shorthand is reading from your shorthand notes. Too often students think it’s unimportant, that it takes too much time, and that it doesn’t benefit them. Reading your shorthand notes is extremely important!

When I was in court reporting school many years ago, I, too, did not know the value of reading and correcting my shorthand notes. In those days, our steno machines produced paper notes in shorthand, and we could pull them up and correct our misstrokes. I’d been in school for three years and hadn’t passed a test in over a year. Unfortunately, I was attending a school that didn’t emphasize readback. We wrote and wrote and wrote on our machines in class. After class, I worked on speedbuilding tapes and wrote and wrote and wrote more on my machine. But it seemed that the more I wrote, the more I practiced, the less I progressed. I felt I was losing, not gaining speed. I was sure I would never get past 140 words a minute; but before giving up, I transferred and commuted more than an hour a day to another school with a fellow court reporting student.

The first day at the new school, the teacher admonished us for reusing our paper and not reading our shorthand notes. During break, we each bought a pad of steno paper, loaded the fresh paper into our machines, and went back to class. Unable to read the steno we had just written, we passed when it was our turn to read. Instead, we diligently corrected our notes when other students in class read back. Later we read our corrected notes to each other on the train ride home. Instead of practicing on my machine, I read my corrected notes two more times at home, and we read them again the next day on the train. After a few weeks of reading and rereading our notes, we both began to pass tests; and within a year, we went from 140 wpm to 225! We both learned the hard way that reading, correcting, and evaluating shorthand notes are essential in developing machine shorthand speed.

Use the following technique when you read your shorthand notes

1. Read the raw steno from your vertical notes, not from the realtime translation screen. Your vertical notes resemble the paper notes we used to use before CAT software. When working on speedbuilding, you should not watch the translation of what you are writing, nor should you watch your computer screen when building speed.

2. Check with your teacher or CAT manual and print out a set of raw vertical steno notes at least once a day so you can read, correct, and evaluate your writing. Use a red pen to correct your notes when reading them. Just reading your notes is fairly effective, but for maximum productivity that programs your subconscious brain, quickly correct a set of paper notes with a red pen. When reading and correcting your shorthand notes, you should have the following objectives:

  • Identify your drops. Each time you drop a word, put a slash (/) with the red pen on the paper notes. At the end of the selection, count the slashes and write how many words you dropped. Circle the number of dropped words. Don’t count dropped outlines, but count dropped words. If you dropped a three-word phrase, count that as three dropped words (/ / /). Repeat writing the selection, and force yourself to get more words on each take. In other words, if you dropped 15 words on the first take of a selection, your goal is to get five more words each time you write it until you can write the entire selection without dropping an outline.
  • Indicate misstrokes with a red pen. You may put a check (ü) exactly where a misstroke occurred or you may write the correct letter. To save time and quickly correct your notes, write the English letter, not the machine shorthand keys. For example, if you wrote an initial S- when you wanted an initial D-, write D not TK.
  • Read your notes out loud whenever possible. A fundamental learning principle is that students learn twice as fast when they hear and see something at the same time; therefore, always try to read your notes out loud. When practicing from recorded dictation, replay the selection and read from your notes along with the tape.

The importance of readback is not just my opinion based on my experience in court reporting school; it is based on many studies of how learning takes place and how psychomotor skills are developed. Reading your notes and correcting them with a red pen conditions or programs your subconscious brain to write the correct shorthand. If you repeatedly make the same correction on a steno outline, you will eventually write the correct outline. It’s based on Pavlov’s theory known as “classical conditioning.” Learned psychologists have applied Pavlov’s theory to developing psychomotor skills in humans. For example, do certain songs remind you of something in your past? Does the scent of a perfume or soap have a pleasant or unpleasant memory? Do you salivate when you smell chocolate or freshly baked bread? If so, these are forms of classical conditioning. Building speed and skill are developed by applying Pavlov’s theory using stimulus and response when you read your steno and repeatedly mark incorrect outlines; and it directly results in developing skill and speed.

Learning is accomplished faster when you employ more than one learning principle. You learn, store, and process information when you see something, when you hear something, when you read something, when you write something, or when you repeat and say something. You learn best when you incorporate many senses together: writing shorthand outlines; reading, visualizing, and correcting steno outlines with your red pen; and hearing them one more time when you read out loud from your shorthand.

In conclusion, reading back and correcting your shorthand notes are probably the most important elements in developing speed and accuracy in writing machine shorthand.

 Kay Moody, MCRI, CPE, an instructor at College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind.

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Official or freelance? Internships help students decide

Internships are an opportunity for students to get out of the classroom and into the real world. During their internships – which do not start until after they have reached at least 180 wpm – students are required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of actual writing time. Working with practicing reporters in a variety of settings helps students choose the right path. These students from South Suburban College in Oak Forest, Ill., share their internship stories.

By Amy Priestly

My court reporting internship experience through South Suburban College has been wonderful. I could not have asked for a more satisfying experience. I had never shadowed or interned with a reporter before this experience and had never gone out to see the real life of a working reporter, so this was something completely new for me.

In the beginning of my internship, I didn’t know what to expect while shadowing a reporter. I didn’t know what to expect from lawyers, judges, etc. To my surprise, the reporter, and every reporter I would go out with after that, was very friendly with the lawyers and judges for the most part. Also to my surprise, the reporter, most of the time, didn’t have to clarify the spelling of a name or ask for a spelling of the attorneys’ names; they had already taken the initiative to spell it for the reporter. The depositions in the beginning of my internship were not as long as I had anticipated them to be. I had the opportunity, though, not long after, to shadow a reporter on a longer deposition. It is so intriguing to be on the job and observing activities or processes that I have learned in school, and to be seeing those processes in action.

One of the processes I observed was an interpreter in a deposition, translating questions from English to Spanish and Spanish to English. It was actually not as difficult as it had sounded to me in school; it was exciting.

My favorite part of the internship was going to the courthouse. I was able to see two bench trials and motions. As I was shadowing a reporter for one of the bench trials, it was something that I knew in my heart: not only do I want to become a court reporter, I would like to one day be sitting in her position as an official court reporter recording these trials. I couldn’t have asked for a more profound and magnificent experience during my internship.

Amy Priestley graduated from South Suburban and currently works for McCorkle Litigation Services, Inc., in Chicago, Ill.

 

Jaclyn Dluski

As a student of court reporting, I spent my summer on a court reporting internship shadowing various reporters from many different agencies and courthouses. Since I have never been to a deposition or a trial, this experience has been enlightening and enjoyable. I have been able to learn which form of reporting I would like to do in the future upon graduating school. I have decided I would like to be a freelance reporter.

After shadowing many different freelance reporters, I quickly realized that I enjoyed the flexibility of their schedules. Each reporter that I shadowed had a different number of days they worked a week, usually dependent upon their lifestyle. Some of these women were mothers, some were married, and some were single. Each was able to adapt their schedule to fit the needs of their lifestyle. Since I would like to one day be a mother, it will be extremely beneficial to be a freelance reporter with a flexible schedule.

Unlike in a courtroom, in a deposition freelance reporters have full control over the room. They conduct the entire deposition starting with swearing in the witness to asking for the lawyers or witness to repeat what they just said. The atmosphere is less hectic as there are not many people coming and going. It is a much easier atmosphere to work in and focus. Beyond the flexibility of schedule and the atmosphere, working for an agency allows me to have coverage if needed, to not go the same place every day, to sit in on depositions about all kinds of different topics, and to stay far away from criminals in custody.

Overall, this internship has been trying and exciting. I have found out what a small agency is like and what a large agency is like. I have seen the ups and downs to reporting. I have only found an even larger appreciation of the field and my ability to join this small society of intelligent individuals who can do what I do. I look forward to joining them.

Jaclyn Dluski is working on her 225 wpm.

 

Perfecting your practice

Treat your homework practice session like it is a job or a date. If you schedule a time to practice each day, you are more likely to fulfill that commitment. You wouldn’t miss your job or a date, so don’t miss your practice session.

Court reporting instructors offer some unique tips to help you stay on track and reach your goals.

  • Pretend everything is a test, even when you are in class practicing. Take it all seriously. Use the same level of concentration and energy that you use on a test on your practice to get the most out of it. This will also help to reduce test anxiety plus enhance your daily practice.
  • Practice numbers. Virtually all testimony will begin with addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, etc.
  • Practice proper names. Purchase a book of popular baby names, and have someone read them to you as you write the names. (This will be a handy reference source for transcription.)
  • Practice in an environment where you can totally concentrate. Be away from any type of interruptions or distractions.
  • Practice occasionally with distractions (which is what class time is). Even though testing in class and for certification will be uninterrupted, that’s not how it is in the real world. This will help you work on your concentration and focus.
  • Reward yourself if you have been practicing faithfully and you pass a take or a test. Do something special. Set those goals, strive for them, and reward yourself when you reach them.
  • Practice the words you missed (again, you see what those words are when you listen to the tape the second time). Then play the tape again to the spot where you started having trouble with those words. After you have practiced them for a while, you should be able to write through them and go farther on the tape.
  • Set up your machine as soon as you get home. It will be a constant reminder to practice. As you write faster speeds, practice as you watch TV or listen to the radio.
  • Review old material every day. Dig out those lists of briefs and phrases, jury charge words and phrases, months, cities, states, etc.
  • Be honest about the quality of your practice and how much really is “good” practice and how much is “distracted” practice – phones ringing, people interrupting, snacks being eaten, etc. Think about the amount of time you have really practiced compared to how much time you have been on or near the machine. They usually aren’t the same!
  • Set a measurable and achievable goal for each practice session. “Increase speed” is not measurable. “After practicing, I will write three one-minute segments of literary material in realtime at 100 words per minute with fewer than three errors in each minute” is a measurable, achievable goal. If you can’t achieve it and you really practiced hard, the goal was probably not reasonable.
  • Look back a sentence or two when you have a drop in your notes. Was there some multistroke word, brief, or phrase that slowed you down?
  • Treat your homework practice session like it is a job or a date. If you schedule a time to practice each day, you are more likely to fulfill that commitment. You wouldn’t miss your job or a date, so don’t miss your practice session.
  • Pay attention to words when you practice. You have to be able to transcribe them correctly. Do you know the different meanings of “peek,” “peak,” and “pique”? Was an unfamiliar word such as “halcyon” or “panacea” used? Use Webster’s online unabridged dictionary to find the correct spelling. Vocabulary is extremely important on national and state certification tests, as well as in daily jobs.
  • Subscribe to an online “word-a-day” vocabulary builder. When it appears, be sure to fingerspell it for practice. Then write the definition in steno and read it back.

This article is adapted from an one originally published in CASElines with contributions from Ann Carothers, RPR, CRI; Deb Dubuc, RPR, CRI, CPE; Erika Inglett, RPR, CRI; Cathy Penniston, RPR, CRI; Ronette Smith; Sarah Smith; and Patti Ziegler, CRI, CPE.