Get ready to celebrate your certification during NCRA’s Celebrate Certification Month

Take part in NCRA’s second Celebrate Certification Month this May and share with customers, clients, and potential clients the importance of working with professionals who hold national certifications.

In any field, professional certifications are clear indicators that the people who hold them are committed to their chosen paths and believe that taking the extra time to earn them is worth it. Many professional organizations, from accountants to doctors, offer certifications. Certification gives people seeking specific services a way to recognize that someone meets the standard level of skills for a particular job.

“Professional certification reflects our commitment to our profession and to keeping our skills polished to ensure that we provide the highest quality of service and product to our clients. NCRA is proud to recognize May as Celebrate Certification Month,” said NCRA President Sue A. Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter from Springfield, Ohio.

During Celebrate Certification Month, NCRA members and nonmembers are also encouraged to earn a certification or to add to any they already hold. In addition to showing proficiency in various skills, numerous NCRA membership surveys have found that court reporters, captioners, and legal videographers who hold NCRA certifications make more money and are often in higher demand than their competitors.

“Earning a professional certification is one of the greatest investments we can make in ourselves as we strive to be the very best we can be every day. I urge everyone to take the time throughout the month of May to celebrate their professional certifications and those of their peers, and to take this opportunity to encourage others who do not hold professional certifications to make the investment in their careers to obtain them,” Terry added.

To help members celebrate throughout May, NCRA has made available a special resource page full of an array of materials such as a press release, social media posts, email signatures, new CART and certification fliers, and brand-new certification business cards and career business cards.

For more information about the 2019 Celebrate Certification Month, contact pr@ncra.org. Share with NCRA how you celebrate the month by sending information to pr@ncra.org.

SSC announces court reporting open house

The Illinois Patch.com reported on April 9 that the South Suburban College (SSC) is hosting a Court Reporting Open House on May 9 to showcase this unique profession and wide-open job market.

Read more.

Sunrise Rotary learns about Veterans History Project

NCRA member Jill Layton, RMR, an official court reporter from Toledo, Ill., was featured in an article posted April 12 by the Effingham Daily News, about her volunteering to record the stories of Illinois veterans for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

Read more.

New Professional Spotlight: Tracey L. Tracy

Tracey Tracy

By Rachel Barkume, RPR

Tracey Tracy, RPR, is a freelance court reporter in Tacoma, Wash. She graduated from the online court reporting technologies program at Green River College in June 2017, attained her RPR in July 2017, and her Washington CCR in August 2017. She’s a true go-getter who radiates positivity and enthusiasm with a smile that is downright infectious. At the close of her first full year of reporting, she’s navigating through being a new professional with grace and tenacity.

JCR | Why did you choose to become a court reporter?

TT | During high school I was exposed to the field of court reporting by my aunt who worked as an official court reporter in my home town. I had considered following her path early on, but life had other plans for me. I spent the next several years raising children, working as an administrative assistant, and even had a stint as a barista at Starbucks.

With our youngest son approaching high school, I decided it was the right time for me to finally go back to school and accomplish my dream of becoming a court reporter. I set a personal goal to finish and be certified by the time he graduated. Well, it’s June 2018, our senior just graduated, and I’ve been working as a freelance court reporter now for 10 months.

I graduated in June 2017 at the age of 46, so I’m proof that you’re never too old!

JCR |   What is the ultimate goal in your career?

TT | I would say it’s too soon for me to predict my ultimate goal, but this first year’s goal has been spent learning the business side of being a freelance court reporter. We are essentially running a small business, which includes implementing a bookkeeping program to track all expenses and incoming revenue, preparing taxes, employing scopists and/or proofreaders, and time management.

Although the workload of a freelance court reporter can ebb and flow, I quickly discovered that work life can get so busy with transcripts that you have time for little else.  However, with a solid business foundation in place, a freelance court reporter can be successful in having a healthy work-life balance.

JCR | What’s the coolest experience you have had working in the profession?

TT | Every day as a freelance court reporter has been a “cool experience.” Prior to court reporting, I never had a job where I could honestly say, I love going to work every single day.  As a freelance reporter, no two days are ever the same. We play a critical role in producing an accurate and verbatim record of proceedings, and we have a front-row seat into the most important legal matters of people’s lives.  Thus far, I would say the best experience has been the realization that no machine will ever be able to replicate the accuracy of the human brain for synthesizing speech and converting it to text.

JCR | How has involvement with state and national reporting associations benefited your career thus far?

TT | As an online student and now a professional reporter, I am very passionate about the importance of being involved with your state reporting association and the NCRA. One of the benefits of being involved with state and national reporting associations is attending the yearly conventions and seminars, which allow for many connections and reconnections with students and professional reporters.

My first experience with an NCRA convention was New York City in 2015, where I was honored as the recipient of the CASE scholarship award. I was welcomed, supported, and encouraged by all of the professional reporters I met while I was there, and I even had a couple of them who would continue to mentor and e-mail me along my journey in school, which reminds me: Debbie Dibble and Irv Starkman, if you’re reading this, I did it!

Through my state and national reporting associations, I enjoy promoting the field of court reporting through career fairs and other venues that actively encourage new students, such as the Discover Steno video with NCRA and the Career Outreach video with WCRA, which has benefited not only my career, but hopefully some new recruits!

JCR | What do you like to do when you’re not reporting?

TT | When I’m not reporting, I love spending time with my husband, family, and my grandson, who calls me Noni. We enjoy anything that has to do with the outdoors, entertaining friends, music, and traveling.

JCR | What did you do to remain positive and motivated while in court reporting school?

TT | As an online student, you are somewhat isolated, so it was important for me to be involved with my state and national reporting associations. I had some amazing teachers, reporters, and fellow students along the way who mentored me in a way that both inspired and motivated me to keep pushing and never give up.  These same people continue to mentor and encourage me today as a professional reporter.

JCR | What do you love about your career?

TT | There are many benefits about this rewarding profession.  We truly have a one-of-a-kind career where we get to utilize our skill that is rare and in great demand worldwide.

As a freelance court reporter, I enjoy the benefits of schedule flexibility, a great income, job security, opportunity for professional growth, and the adventure of being presented with a new assignment and location every day.

Court reporting is rarely dull for people who enjoy learning!

Rachel Barkume, RPR, is a freelancer and CART captioner in Alta, CA. She is a member of the NCRA New Professionals Committee and can be reached at rachel.barkume@gmail.com.

NCRA A to Z Alumna Profile: From A to Z to RPR in two years

Taylor Lauren Nirschl

Next month, NCRA will have its first known court reporting program graduate who started in an NCRA A to ZTM  Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program. Taylor Lauren Nirschl from Combined Locks, Wis., will be graduating in May with an Associate Degree in Applied Science in Court Reporting from Lakeshore Technical College, and she will also have another credential behind her name: RPR. Nirschl has some advice for students who are considering taking an A to Z program.

JCR | Is court reporting your first choice of career?

TLN | I would say yes, since my dad has been talking to me about court reporting since seventh grade. My dad works at a workforce development center. I did change my mind a couple of times, but I would always come back to court reporting.

JCR | What attracted you to learn more about it?

TLN | My dad told me how much money court reporters made.  As a seventh grader, that really got my attention. But as I got older, my attraction was more about the technology they use on their job, being in a courtroom, and just thinking about how important their job really is.

JCR | How did you hear about the NCRA A to Z program?

TLN | My parents mentioned that I should go sit with someone to see if this was something I wanted to do. I went back to the school to see if I could get a recommendation on a local court reporter to shadow, and that’s when I met Lori Baldauf.  While I was asking questions about shadowing a court reporter, Lori gave me a flyer about the program.

JCR | What prompted you to sign up for the program?

TLN | I had already signed up for the court reporting program [at Lakeshore Technical College] before I signed up for the A to Z program. I was waiting for school to begin. When Lori shared the information, I decided to sign up.

JCR | What surprised you most about learning steno in the A to Z program?

TLN | How you must learn a whole new alphabet; and the letters are not on the keys. The way you learn how to remember the keys. 

JCR | How soon after completing the A to Z program did you enroll in Lakeshore Technical College?

TLN | I took A to Z in the spring of 2017 and started court reporting school in the summer of 2017. I’m waiting to graduate next month!

JCR | Did you test for any NCRA certifications while in school?

TLN | Yes, I did.  I took the three legs of the RPR certification from October through December 2018 and the Written Knowledge Test in January 2019.  I passed the Written Knowledge Test my first time taking it. When I passed my Lit leg at school, I took the Lit leg of the RPR. It took me two times to pass the Lit leg, but only one time to pass the Jury and Testimony legs. I found testing for the RPR after I passed my legs in school helped me stay on track. I also had an added incentive from my teacher: get my RPR and I’m done with classes.  

JCR | What do you plan to do when you graduate – official, freelancer, broadcast captioner, CART provider?

TLN | I’d like to take a little break since I’ve gone straight through school. However, I would love to work in the court where Lori works, but they don’t have an opening yet. I’ve thought about doing CART.

JCR | What would you say to others considering career choices to encourage them to enroll in the NCRA A to Z program?

TLN | I would definitely encourage anyone interested in court reporting to take the NCRA A to Z program. I think that is what got me through school so fast. It gives you a great head start above everyone else. You already know your letters, so you are able to focus on your short forms and theory. I also think I had more confidence when I started the program and when I attended orientation. When I attended orientation, we got an opportunity to write on the machines. I remembered my letters and easy words like “egg.” I also already knew a few people from participating in NCRA A to Z, which provided me with a ready-made community.

Taylor is currently working toward earning NCRA’s Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) certification. For more information on the NCRA A to Z program or to learn about the court reporting and captioning professions, visit DiscoverSteno.org.

Planning to test for an NCRA certification? Make sure you know about these changes

If you are plan to take a test for an NCRA certification, make sure that you have all of the most current information.

Preview words for online Skills Tests

Starting April 4, all RPR and RMR Skills Tests (SKT) will have preview words provided,
as they have been for the SKTs for the realtime certifications, the CRR and CRC.
Preview words are released prior to taking the test from the online Skills Test platform, and test candidates are expected to put the preview words in their dictionaries before starting the test. If a skills test has no preview words, candidates will receive a word list that will say “None.”

When to register for online Skills Tests

Starting in June, NCRA will move to a “block scheduling” cycle for online Skills Tests. Block scheduling should make registration easier and more efficient for test candidates. Registration will be open every other month, starting in June, with candidates registering in the first 20 days of the month. Test candidates will be able to choose their test day from the first 20 days of the month following the registration month. For the remainder of the year, the months for registering for the online Skills Tests will be June (for testing in July), August (for testing in September), October (for testing in November), and December (for testing in January 2020).

More information about the new block scheduling can be found online

New Job Analyses percentages incorporated into Written Knowledge Tests

Starting at the beginning of April, NCRA released new Job Analyses for the Written Knowledge Tests (WKTs) for the RPR (Registered Professional Reporter) and RDR (Registered Diplomate Reporter). The Job Analyses describe the domains, associated tasks, and knowledge essential for court reporters working in the field every day. The Job Analyses serve as the blueprint for the Written Knowledge Tests with the domain percentages equating to the number of questions in that area on the tests.

All RPR and RDR Written Knowledge Tests moving forward, including the April Written Knowledge Tests, to be held April 9-23, will be based on the new Job Analyses.


15 words and phrases that I never use

By Santo (Joe) Aurelio

There are 15 words and phrases that are so confusing that I cannot and will not use them. The principal dictionary consulted was/is Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. Each of the following words and phrases has at least two different meanings – and therein lies the problem:

  1. biannual (twice a year and every two years)
  2. biennial (twice a year and every two years)
  3. bimonthly (twice a month and every two months)
  4. biweekly (twice a week and once every two weeks)
  5. cleave (to cut and to adhere)
  6. duplicitous (deceiving and duplicative)
  7. fey (visionary, crazy, precious, and doomed)
  8. fulsome (lavish, abundant, attractive, and disgusting)
  9. inflammable (flammable and inflammable, both of which mean easily excited, ignitable, and burnable)
  10. lucked out (did well and did not do well)
  11. remit (to pay, to not pay, to defer, to cancel, to send back; [other meanings]); and sign off (to agree, to not agree, to end [as, a message]) N.B.- The phrase “sign on” can still be used since most people understand it to mean “to agree.”
  12. cash back – with reference to sales pitches, especially automobile pitches. A price reduction is meant — not actually giving cash back to the purchaser.
  13. 110 percent — as, He’s such a hard worker, he gives 110 percent. Impossible. The most one can give of anything is 100 percent. E.g., the most energy a person can expend is all (that is, 100 percent) of his or her energy.
  14. throwaway or (see 15)
  15. disposable camera — Cameras are not thrown away or disposed of by picture takers. Cameras are returned to processors for processing. Later, the processors send those cameras to plants (as, Kodak) for the recycling of most parts of those same cameras.

Frankly, I have no problem not using the above 15 words and phrases. If I want to say, “twice a month,” I say those exact words. And if I want to say, “every two months,” I say those exact words. I never want whatever I say or write to be misunderstood. Therefore, I do not use words and phrases that have two or more meanings. So, in conclusion, as they say in court, I now rest my case.

Want to hear more of Aurelio’s take on language? Sign up for his live webinar, “Homonyms & Pseudohomonyms, The Nemesis of Reporters, Part 5,” set for April 17 at 6:30 p.m. ET. You can even earn CEUs for attending.

Dr. Santo “Joe” Aurelio, FAPR, RDR, a former official court reporter for 40 years, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard University, and a doctorate in education from Boston University. Dr. Aurelio is a visiting professor at colleges in the Boston area, where he teaches a variety of subjects, but mainly English grammar and medicolegal terminology. 

Serving as the honorary bailiff for the Kansas Supreme Court

By Mary Kay Howe

Mary Kay Howe

It was a great honor to be chosen to be the honorary bailiff for the Kansas Supreme Court for a special session it was having in Lawrence, Kan. 

Since 2011, the Kansas Supreme Court has conducted 16 special sessions throughout the state where court representatives have traveled to all areas of the state to argue some Supreme Court cases, which allowed members of that community to come see them in action. Since 2015, those have been evening events, which brought a bigger attendance. Prior to our event in Lawrence, the largest crowd was 700 people. The attendance in Lawrence was more than 800 community members.

Whenever the Supreme Court has one of these special sessions, they reach out to the chief judge in that city and ask that the chief judge pick a person who would be a great example of the judicial system, someone who has long-standing employment with the state and would be willing and able to take on the role of “honorary bailiff.” Consequently, having worked for the Kansas judicial system as a court reporter for over 43 years and my love of the court system and all it stands for, I was asked by the chief judge if I would be willing to do the job.  Well, I am always about promoting court reporting, and I thought this would be another great opportunity for just that. Our Office of Judicial Administration contacted me and asked if they could do an interview of me that they would then do a media blast on. I, of course, obliged, once again to get the career of court reporting promoted. 

Following the interview and my approval of the same, the published article went on the state judicial website, and it also was sent to our local newspaper that was published online and in print. It was then put on my own Facebook page, as well as our KCRA Facebook page and the NCRA Facebook page. So based on all of that, hopefully, a few or a lot more people saw “court reporting” in a positive light.

As far as the event itself, my job was to pronounce the entry of the Supreme Court justices: “All rise.”  (Then a rapping of the gavel three times.) Then I said: “Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Hear Ye, the Supreme Court of the State of Kansas.” There was further text they had me say, but it was in front of me, and I don’t remember it all. At that point, the chief justice took over and then honored me as a loyal Kansas employee and a court reporter for our state since 1975. I’m sure there was some gasping when people heard that, because they probably think I should be dead by now. At the adjournment, they had me further say, “All rise” to the crowd as they exited. 

Following the session, there was a reception for all of the justices to meet and greet the community members. There were many from the legal community especially that came up to me to congratulate me for my service.

This was the first time I’ve ever been invited to do such a thing, and I felt honored to be chosen. Following that, I received a very nice thank-you letter from the Kansas Supreme Court chief justice for being the honorary bailiff and for my state service.

If any opportunity like this ever presents itself to any of you, please take it. There is no better way to present ourselves publicly and what we do. The only regret I have is that they didn’t ask me to bring my machine because we all know how that always intrigues people and they want to know how it works.

I love court reporting!

Mary Kay Howe, RMR, is an official court reporter based in Lawrence, Kan. She can be reached at mhowe@douglas-county.com.

Captioning word of the month: Baby Habs

Steve Clark

Below is the ninth in a series of monthly featured words to help captioners build their dictionaries and knowledge. The words for this series are being provided by Steve Clark, CRC, a captioner from Washington, D.C. Clark captions for Home Team Captions and covers the Baltimore Ravens NFL team  and the Washington Nationals baseball team.

Our terms this month, Baby Habs, comes from hockey and refers to the American Hockey League (minor league) team affiliated with the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League.


not Baby Habs, as defined

Baby Habs
(hockey)

Definition

One of the nicknames for the NHL Montreal Canadiens, in French, is Les Habitants, sometimes shortened to “the Habs.” Therefore, the minor league team has come to be known as the Baby Habs.

Usage     

“Desjardins is sure to get called up by the Habs very soon, considering his level of play here with the Baby Habs.”

Baby Habs, as defined








WKT given in braille for the second time


Amy Davidson and Eva Liu

Along with the many people who will be taking the RPR Written Knowledge Test in April is a student who is blind and will be reading the test in braille.

It is the second time a person has taken the test in braille. The first was Kayde Rieken in April 2017.

To make the braille test possible took the efforts of NCRA’s Director of Certification and Testing Amy Davidson and Certification and Testing Program Manager Eva Liu. They found a company to translate the test into braille. The current test taker will be answering the same questions as the other April 2019 test takers.

Davidson and Liu make accommodations for a variety of disabilities and special situations.

“NCRA really strives to provide the best opportunities for all of our candidates,” Davidson said. “Anyone who has a medically documented type of requirement for accommodation needs to reach out to us, and we will work with them. Please reach out to NCRA early so we have time to make it work.”

NCRA covers the cost of creating the braille test and the additional accommodations that are needed  with the testing company, Pearson VUE. Davidson and Liu work with each candidate who needs special accommodations to give them an individualized plan with Pearson.

The current braille test taker will be in a room with a personal proctor who will be timing her and also recording her answers. For example, the test taker will say “question 1, answer B,” and the proctor will repeat it back to her and then mark the answer on the test.

“We go above and beyond to make sure our testing candidates have a positive experience,” Liu said.  “We are walking alongside them every step of the way through the testing process.”

Besides accommodations for disabilities, NCRA staff has also worked with test takers on issues like test location. They worked with Pearson VUE to authorize additional locations in Jamaica and the Bahamas so that candidates can test locally.

“We do everything in our power to help candidates succeed in their testing,” Liu said.

Accommodations also happen for the online skills testing within the online testing platform.

In striving for success for all candidates, NCRA’s online skills test registration includes the opportunity for a proctored practice exam before the real test. It’s a great way for test takers to check equipment, Internet connectivity, test procedures, etc., to help candidates successfully take and pass their skills tests.

Visit our Certification Test Center to learn more about NCRA testing.