Actor Tom Hanks ‘hearts’ captioning

Photo by David Kindler

NCRA member Jo Gayle, RPR, CRR, CRC, a freelance captioner from Chicago, Ill., recently earned a shout-out from actor Tom Hanks for her captioning skills during an event held by the Chicago Humanities Festival. The JCR Weekly reached out to Gayle to find out more about being recognized by an international celebrity for her skills. The JCR Weekly also reached out to Brittany Pyle, director of production and audience experience for the Chicago Humanities Festival, to learn more about the benefits captioning brings to audiences.

NCRA member Jo Gayle, RPR, CRR, CRC

JCR | How did you connect with the Chicago Humanities organization?
JG | I was asked by a captioning company to caption some of their events.

JCR | How long have you been captioning for them?
JG | Three years, since fall of 2015.

JCR | What types of events do you caption for them and how often?
JG | I started out just captioning a few events, but this fall I did 15 events as well as a day-long marathon of interviews that I split with a remote captioner. The events are either interviews or lectures, and the Humanities Festival chooses which ones will be captioned based on audience interest and accessibility requests.

JCR | What do you enjoy most about working with this organization?
JG | They are extremely accommodating when it comes to making sure I have a comfortable and accessible work space. Also I’ve enjoyed the diversity of events and the famous people I’ve been able to caption: Alan Alda, Gloria Steinem, Al Gore, and James Comey, just to name a few.

JCR | What were you captioning when Tom Hanks gave you a shout-out?
JG | He was doing an interview with Peter Sagal of NPR to discuss his love of writing and his collection of short stories, Uncommon Type.

JCR | Did you know he was going to do that?
JG | What happened was they did not know the event was being captioned and only discovered it when they looked at the screen behind them that was going to display audience questions.

Here’s the back and forth from the transcript:

PETER SAGAL: We have a couple of questions from members of the audience who submitted them earlier. We selected a few. We’ll put them up on the screen.
TOM HANKS: Oh, really?
TOM HANKS: I thought this was a temporary graphic.
I just realized that. Has that gone on? So you get to say I read the best interview with Tom Hanks. Anybody deaf that is actually doing it? Anybody hearing-impaired?
PETER SAGAL: Hello, I am the person typing the captions.
(Laughter and applause.)
TOM HANKS: Let’s hear it — are they up here or back there?
THE CAPTIONER: I’m up here.
(Laughter and applause.)
PETER SAGAL: That’s great.
We actually do have some questions for you so we can put them up.
TOM HANKS: That is hilarious. I’m sorry. That is just fantastic. I’m sorry, that is truly fantastic.
“Which character in your book do you love the most and why,” says Jill. There you go. We want Jill’s name up there twice. I think that’s fabulous.

JG | I felt I had to insert myself in there so they would know it was an actual person doing the captioning and not voice recognition or artificial intelligence.

JCR | What was your reaction?
JG | I got a big kick out of it, but I was overwhelmed when I received this email from him through the Humanities Festival:

You tell Jo Gayle that she made our night! A personality to go with those magic words! It was an honor to share the stage with her! Tell her that, or better yet, send her a text one word at a time … It was a grand night,
Tom Hanks

JCR | Did you get to meet him?
JG | No, unfortunately.

JCR | Have you met any other celebrities through this work?
JG | Alan Alda is the only celebrity I’ve met.

JCR | How long have you been a captioner?
JG | I’ve been a court reporter since 1980, and I transitioned into CART in 2004. I don’t do broadcast captioning, only CART captioning. Transitioning into CART was the best career move I ever made!

JCR | How did you learn about the court reporting/captioning profession?
JG | After four years of college and two years of grad school, I couldn’t find a job in what I majored in (mass communications), so my father, who was an attorney, told me about the court reporters he worked with and actually found a reporting school for me. I looked into it and found my niche.

This whole experience has been unreal. From getting the shout-out from Tom Hanks to having the event posted on both the NCRA and Illinois Court Reporters Association Facebook pages and in an email from the Chicago Humanities Festival to their subscribers has been beyond my wildest dreams! And the recognition from my colleagues is the topping on the cake!


Captioning provides accessibility

Here is what Brittany Pyle, director of production and audience experience for the Chicago Humanities Festival, said about the benefits that captioning brings to audiences.

JCR | How long have you offered captioning services to your audiences?
BP | We implemented open captions at our events in fall 2015.

JCR | What prompted your organization to begin providing captioning of your events?
BP | The Chicago Humanities Festival is committed to accessibility for all audience members. Back in 2015, I was learning a lot from my involvement with the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium (CCAC). Based on audience feedback, I sensed that many people in our audience identified as being hard of hearing, and some audience members were deaf but ASL interpretation was not their preference. Being able to understand what a person is saying on stage is the primary value of our events. It became clear to me that making realtime captions available and visible to everyone in the room was going to be a clear benefit to our audience’s experience.

JCR | How long have you used the services of Jo Gayle?
BP | We’ve worked with Jo Gayle since the beginning of utilizing live event captions in 2015. We also work with a few other talented captioners in Chicago. We have so many events running at one time that we often need more than one captioner on a given day!

JCR | You mentioned that she is your go-to person for captioning services. Why is that?
BP | Jo has amazing accuracy. I’m very impressed by how she can listen to a fast talker rattle off complicated terminology and get it perfectly right on the screen. She works very hard to prepare for our events. She and I work together in advance to make sure she has everything we know about a particular speaker, words they might use, the correct spelling of names. Jo does a lot of prep work on her own, looking up videos of that person, learning their speech cadence, things they often talk about when they’re giving a presentation. If our audience members can spot her in a theater, they will flock to her after an event to thank her for how much her captioning helped them get more out of the event.

JCR | What would you say to other organizations considering offering captioning services to their audiences?
BP | It is so worth budgeting for this accessible service. I find captions to be beneficial to a wide audience. It makes our events inclusive of people who are deaf or hard of hearing but also elevates an experience that could be less than ideal, say, in an acoustically challenging church or helps aid understanding if a speaker has a heavy accent. I would also urge other organizations to aim for open captions (as opposed to closed captions on a device) so that they are integrated into the entire experience, and someone can see them from any seat in the house without having to self-identify. I would also urge organizations to make it easy and transparent for a person to request the service of open captions from your organization.

JCR | Please feel free to add any additional information you think would be helpful for the article.
BP | The Chicago Humanities Festival is a guest in over 40 venues per year, producing roughly 130 events per year. We try to make our events as accessible as possible by showcasing how to request accessible accommodations on our website when buying tickets, and our audience services representatives are trained to ask each ticket buyer if they require accessible accommodations as part of their order when speaking to people on the phone. While we haven’t been able to afford to caption all 130 events just yet, we do budget for requests, pre-schedule captioning in venues that would benefit from them, and we are always fundraising and applying for grants hoping to increase the number of events with open captions. I also think it would be a logistical challenge to get realtime captioners at 130 events, since a demand at that volume would certainly exceed the number of qualified captioners in Chicago! I would love it if more colleges and trade schools provided a pipeline into this growing field of realtime captioning for accessibility.

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.

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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.

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Captioner for Chicago Humanities Festival earns special shout-out

In a call for donations posted Nov. 15 by, there is a photo of famed actor Tom Hanks giving a shout-out to the Chicago Humanities Festival live captioner.

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Houston captioner keeps audiences up to speed

The Houston Chronicle posted an article on Nov. 23 about the captioning career of NCRA member Marie Bryant, RMR, CRR, CRC.

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Pengad gift card winner says NCRA membership lets her connect

Nicole Bresnick

Nicole Bresnick, a captioner with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program, is the winner of a $100 Pengad gift card for renewing her NCRA membership early.

Bresnick, a longtime member, was entered into the special drawing along with others who renewed their NCRA memberships in September and October.

“I became a member of NCRA as a student to get connected with my fellow students and the industry, and I have stayed a member, really, for the same reasons; but also, because it’s the right thing to do for my court reporting and captioning community,” said Bresnick, who resides in Madison, Wis.

“What I love most about being a CART captioner is that, working in an academic setting, I’m able to support the amazing students I work with to achieve great things in their education and then beyond. It’s also been great to learn how to be a better ally for deaf and hard-of-hearing people and to help pass that information on to other people in the hearing world,” she added.

Member benefits continue to include:

  • A listing* in both the print and online versions of the NCRA Sourcebook
  • A subscription to the JCR Magazine and the JCR Weekly
  • Multiple certification programs with online skills tests designed to make you more money
  • Access to discounted group insurance programs through Mercer for personal liability and errors and omissions
  • Member pricing to can’t-miss networking and educational events at the NCRA Convention & Expo (Aug. 15-18, 2019) and NCRA Business Summit (Feb. 1-3, 2019), formerly known as the Firm Owners Executive Conference
  • First-class online educational opportunities

Renewing is easy and available online at or by calling 800-272-6272. Members can expect to receive their membership card via email within approximately two weeks of renewing if they have a valid email address and have not previously opted out of Constant Contact email messaging.

For more information, contact Brenda Gill, NCRA’s Membership Manager, at

* Registered, Participating, and Associate members are eligible for this benefit.


Captioning word of the month: Double-double


Steve Clark

Below is the sixth 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. and NCRA Board member. Clark captions for Home Team Captions and covers the Baltimore Ravens NFL team  and the Washington Nationals baseball team.

Our terms this month, double-double, triple-double, quadruple-double, and quintuple-double, come from basketball. Of the four, the quintuple-double is the most difficult to achieve.




In every basketball game, an individual player is scored in five statistical categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocked shots. When a player scores 10 or more points (this is where the “double” suffix comes from) in any two of these categories, this is known as a double-double.

When a player scores 10 or more points in any three of these categories, this is known as a triple-double.

When a player scores 10 or more points in any four of these categories, this is known as a quadruple-double. This feat has only been accomplished a handful of times at the professional and college level.

When a player scores 10 or more points in all five of these categories, this is known as a quintuple-double. This feat has never been accomplished at the professional or college level.

Bonus definition: Five-by-five

When a player scores five or more points in all five of these statistical categories.


“And with that basket, Jones has another double-double.”

“Lebron James joins the list of triple-double NBA players destined for the hall of fame.”


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What’s your angle?

The late blues musician Albert King was known for simply flipping his guitar and playing upside down in order to strike the bass E-string at the top if the instrument, while icon rocker the late Jimi Hendrix used right-handed guitars but re-strung them for left-hand playing to create his legendary sound.

In the court reporting and captioning field, veteran court reporter Tami Frazier, RMR, CRR, an official from Murrieta, Calif., tilts her steno machine away from her for better comfort and to ensure quick and accurate strokes in her daily work.

Dubbed the Tami Tilt by many of her peers, the JCR Weekly reached out to Frazier to learn more about her signature steno machine slant. We also followed up with Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter and agency owner from North Brunswick, N.J., and a close friend of Frazier’s to learn more about how she has inspired him to use the Tami Tilt.

JCR | What is the Tami Tilt?
TF | Well, Rich Germosen dubbed it that. Rich is known for giving descriptive pet names to people and things. What would the court reporting world do without him? I actually call myself the ‘OG Tilter.’

JCR | How long have you used the Tami Tilt in your reporting and how did using it come about?
TF | I believe I’ve been tilting my writer away from me since the late 1990s. I don’t remember not tilting. Originally I used a tilting adapter head that attached onto my regular tripod. I was off work for five years with hand injuries, so I came back looking for different ways to keep me from going out again. It’s been so long ago that I can’t even remember how I learned about the tilting tripod. I know it felt so much better on my hands immediately after I started tilting. Before the tilting head, I would lean my writer back and support it with my legs. Pain relief followed.

JCR | What were the comments from your peers when you first started writing with your machine tilted like this?
TF | “Your writer looks like it’s going to fall over.” “You write like that?” “That’s crazy.” My writer was quite the spectacle in the speed contest rooms. Everyone used to just shake their head at me like I was nuts. “Why in the world do you write like that?”

I was the only “tilter” for a long time. Then Alan Brock, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Boston, Mass., competes one year tilting towards him. I then understood the perplexed looks I had received the previous years. I didn’t understand why anyone would want to tilt their writer towards them. Alan won the speed contest with the forward tilt that first year I saw him tilt, so the forward tilt definitely worked for him.

Tilting away, along with using the Report-It on my lap, always felt like it kept my wrists straight and stretched out. Tilting towards my body, my hands would feel jammed, and my wrists would break upwards and definitely not be straight.

JCR | You taught your sons Clay and Chase steno. Did you teach them to use the Tami Tilt as well?
TF | Both Clay and Chase do tilt away from their bodies. They did pick that up from me. Chase uses the Report-It with his tilt. No Report-It for Clay. I think it is actually pretty shocking how similarly we write. Our hands look very similar. Frazier hand genes might be a thing.

What you might not know is I am presently training my youngest son (and other Champion Steno students) to write. Cade is 16, soon to be 17, and he is starting to rattle 140s. He doesn’t tilt. That might be because he has a titanium rod from the very top of his back to the top of his tailbone. He mostly leans way back in his chair, so I’m not sure the tilt would work for him. He has used a Report-It, though, since about the second day of theory class.

JCR | What are the benefits of using the tilt? Does it help you write longer, keep your fingers more nimble, less tiring on your hands?
TF | It definitely helps me write longer. It helps keep my wrists straight. My hands and fingers don’t feel jammed up at all. I don’t think I would still be able to work if I hadn’t been tilting away and using my Report-It all these years.

JCR | Why do you think it has grown in popularity?
TF | I’m actually shocked how long it took to catch on. When I first started competing, the other contestants would tell me my writer looked like it was about to fall over. “You really write like that?” Nobody really asked why. I think it looked scary to everybody. Now it seems it’s strange if you don’t tilt.

I still look at the writers who tilt toward their bodies and wonder why in the world you would ever do that, and then I remember, once again, Alan Brock winning the speed contest with the forward tilt. It’s hard to argue with those results.

Rich Germosen using Tami Tilt

JCR | How did you hear about the Tami tilt?
RG| I saw Tami and probably a few others tilting a few years ago…probably at the 2013 NCRA Convention & Expo in Nashville, Tenn.

JCR | What were your thoughts when you first saw someone using it?
RG | I thought it was very strange and for some odd reason did not consider doing it until either 2016 or 2017.

“My Luminex tilted ALL THE WAY just for show.  I don’t it tip all the way at work.” – Rich Germosen

JCR | Has it made a difference in the way you write? How so?
RG | Either a year or two ago, I just tilted the writer since others were doing it and I did have the tilting tripod. It seemed a tad easier to write with it tilted and I took to it right away. I haven’t looked back since and just purchased the V2 tripod that tilts even more.

JCR | Does it help you write longer, keep your fingers more nimble, less tiring on your hands?
RG | I’m not really sure if it helps me to write longer amounts of time or not. I just know it feels better to write this way.

JCR | Why do you think it has grown in popularity?
RG | Some reporters are posting pictures of their tilt and others are curious I would imagine and want to give it a try, and I imagine it’s helping some with wrist/hand fatigue.


Editor’s note: Recently the Frazier family tilted their way to victory in the 2018 California Speed Contest. Clay Frazier, RMR, CRR; an official court reporter from Los Angeles earned first place followed by Tami, who took second place, and Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Murrieta, Calif., earned fourth.

Venice resident David Crane pioneered closed captioning

The November issue of Sarasota Magazine features an article that profiles David Crane, Venice, Fla., who is credited with pioneering closed captioning.

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