NCRA E-seminar Spring Sale

Need CEUs? Don’t miss this special deal on e-seminars recorded at the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo.  Make your purchase between midnight March 24 and midnight March 26 Eastern time. The seminars will then be available for viewing from April 1-30.

Bundled seminars

The spring bundle includes 4 e-seminars for the discounted price of $60 members/$85 nonmembers (regularly $220/$316). Earn 0.4 CEUs.

  • Ethics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, presenters Deanna Baker, RMR, and Heidi Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC: Attendees will get a detailed description of the Captioners Code of Professional Ethics and leave with a better understanding of the various aspects of the Code that they can use on a daily basis.
  • The Lost Art of Professionalism, presenter Marsha Naegeli, CMRS, CRI: Learn the subtle and not-so-subtle tweaks to your personal brand that will set you apart from others in the room, elevate your business, and enhance your life. Gain new perspectives on the many ways in which professionalism can make an impact on the entire profession.
  • A Guide to Social Media for Post-Millennials, presenters Lauren Lawrence, RPR, and Matthew Moss, RPR: This session is designed to help participants navigate the benefits and pitfalls of using social media as a means for connecting and collaborating across multiple platforms. It will also help them avoid potentially career-damaging mistakes.
  • Back to School: A Day in the Life of a University of Wisconsin-Madison Staff CART Provider, presenter Kristen Wurgler, RPR: Topics include providing successful post-secondary CART in the classroom, accessibility versus verbatim writing, STEM captioning, and special adaptations for hard-of-hearing or deaf consumers to increase inclusion and enhance the learning experience.

Individual seminars

These e-seminars are only sold individually. Receive a 69 percent discount from regular prices ($65 members/$89 nonmembers).

  1. Captioning a Sporting Event 101:   Baseball, Basketball, Football, and Hockey, presenter Sandra Smith, RPR: 0.125 CEU $20 members/$28 nonmembers: Learn a few basics of each game, discussing positions, plays, and terminology. Tips and tricks for captioning a sporting event. The goal is to give the participants a basic understanding of each event to prep and take a on captioning assignment.
  2. Where Languages Intersect – Best Practices in Interpreted Proceedings, presenter Aimee Benavides: 0.125 CEU $20 members/$28 nonmembers: This session is designed to help individual court reporters as well as owners of court reporting firms to understand the best practices of interpreters which affect interpreted proceedings, foreign language transcription and translation requests, requests for vital statistics translation, and other special requests.
  3. How Voice Writing Technology Works:  Dispelling Myths and Explaining Facts, presenter Tori Pittman, RDR, CRI, FAPR, CVR-CM-M, RCP: 0.125 CEU $20 members/$28 nonmembers: There are many stories about voice writing out there but what is the reality? Get an in-depth explanation of how the technology works, how it is similar to steno (and how it’s different), and the practicalities of working as a professional using this method of reporting.

What states allow remote and/or online notarization?

Please note that each state’s notarization laws are different and may only apply to specific proceedings. Please check with your State Notary, Secretary of State, or other regulatory agency for your state’s specific remote notarization or oath administration laws. Lastly, the information provided is not intended, nor should it be construed, to be legal advice. Members with particular needs concerning the specific issues mentioned should seek the guidance or retention of competent counsel. If you have any additional updates or changes to this information, please contact NCRA Director of State Government Relations Jocelynn Moore at jmoore@ncra.org.

Faced with both the need to practice safety in this health crisis and yet the need to allow justice to continue its work, many court reporters are attempting to make the remote office accessible for courtrooms and depositions. Keep in mind that for some states and for some officials, their ability to swear in a witness is embedded within their licenses or within their official duties as a court reporter.

According to the National Notary Association, “remote notarization” happens when a signer personally appears before the Notary at the time of the notarization using audio-visual technology over the internet instead of being physically present in the same room. Remote online notarization is also called webcam notarization, online notarization, or virtual notarization.

Congress is currently considering a bill, the “Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020,” that was introduced by U.S. Senators Mark Warner of Virginia and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota on March 18, 2020. If enacted, the bill will authorize remote online notarizations nationally. For information, please visit: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/3533/text.

Several states have implemented changes to laws in the past few months which allow for remote notarization, and we have attempted to gather that information for you here:

Alabama – Effective March 24, 2020, through April 16, 2020, official court reporters, special roving court reporters, special court reporters, supernumerary court reporters, and freelance court reporters qualified to administer an oath in the state of Alabama to a witness in a deposition or court proceeding or trial may swear a witness remotely by audio-video communication technology if the deposition or court proceeding or trial is conducted by audio-video communication equipment that allows the court reporter and the witness simultaneously to view and orally communicate with each other, provided that the court reporter can positively identify the witness.

Alaska – Can swear witnesses telephonically since the 1990s. 

California — Effective March 27, 2020, the following statute is suspended: Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.310, subdivision (b), to the extent that subdivision limits a court’s authority to provide that a party deponent may appear at a deposition by telephone.

Colorado — Effective March 27, 2020, until 30 days from March 27, 2020, unless extended further by Executive Order. The Executive Order temporarily suspends the requirement that the individual making a statement or executing a signature appear personally before a notarial officer, as set forth in C.R.S. § 24-21-506. This temporary suspension does not apply to any notarial act required by Title 1 of Colorado Revised Statutes. Governor Polis authorized the Colorado Secretary of State, consistent with the Secretary of State’s rulemaking authority under C.R.S. § 24-21-527(1)(a)-(f), to promulgate and issue temporary emergency rules to:

  1. Authorize notarial officers to perform notarizations where a person appears before a notarial officer remotely, by real-time audio-video communication; and
  2. Establish the standards and processes necessary to allow remote notarizations, including rules regarding authentication, verification of identity, and audio-video recording.

Connecticut – Effective March 24, 2020, through June 23, 2020, all relevant state laws and regulations are hereby modified to permit any notarial act that is required under Connecticut law to be performed using an electronic device or process that allows a notary public commissioned by the Connecticut Secretary of the State and a remotely located individual to communicate with each other simultaneously by sight and sound (“Communication Technology”), provided that certain conditions are met.

Florida 

Georgia – Currently, there is no clear legal authority expressly barring a court reporter from administering an oath remotely, nor is there authority expressly permitting it. Remote depositions, in general, are permitted by Georgia’s Civil Practice Act. “[A] deposition may be taken by telephone or other remote electronic means only upon the stipulation of the parties or by order of the court. For purposes of the requirements of this chapter, a deposition taken by telephone or other remote electronic means is taken in the state and at the place where the deponent is to answer questions.” OCGA § 9-11-30(b)(4). However, the Act does not address whether a court reporter must be physically present with a witness in order to swear the witness in. No appellate legal authority interpreting this code section to impose a live swearing-in requirement could be located; however, no legal authority interpreting it to bar remote swearing-in was located either.

Idaho 

Illinois — Effective March 26, 2020, Governor Pritzker ordered that during the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation related to the outbreak of COVID-19, the requirement that a person must “appear before” a Notary Public commissioned under the laws of Illinois pursuant to the Illinois Notary Act, 5 ILCS 312/6-102, is satisfied if the Notary Public performs a remote notarization via two-way audio video communication technology, provided that the Notary Public commissioned in Illinois is physically within the State while performing the notarial act and the transaction follows the guidance posted by the Illinois Secretary of State on its website. Additionally, it was ordered that during the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation related to the outbreak of COVID-19, any act of witnessing required by Illinois law may be completed remotely by via two-way audio-video communication technology, provided that certain conditions are met.

Indiana — pending implementation – Although the notarization laws took effect July 1, 2019, the state required additional time to implement remote notarization rules and technology. Contact the notarization office or regulating agency for information on when remote notarization procedures and services will be made fully available.

Iowa — Effective March 22, 2020, until 11:59 P.M. on April 16, 2020, unless sooner terminated or extended in writing by Governor Reynolds. The Governor, pursuant to Iowa Code § 29C.6(6) suspended the personal appearance requirement in Iowa Code § 9B.6, but only to the extent that the notarial act complies with the requirements of section 6 of 2019 Iowa Acts chapter 44 (Senate File 475) and communication technology. Additionally, the Governor, pursuant to Iowa Code § 29C.6(d) and Iowa Code § 135.144(3), and in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Public Health, temporarily suspended the regulatory provisions of Iowa Code §§ 144B.3, 633.279, and 633B.105, to the extent that they require the physical presence of a testator, settlor, principal, witness, or other person, if the person is present in a manner in which the witness or other person can see and hear the acts by electronic means, such as video conference, Skype, Facetime, Zoom, or other means, whether or not recorded.

Kentucky — pending legislation

Maine – Effective March 25, 2020 until further ordered by the State of Maine Supreme Judicial Court. An officer or other person before whom a deposition is to be taken is hereby authorized to administer oaths and take testimony remotely, so long as that officer or other person can both see and hear the deponent via audio-video communication equipment or technology for purposes of positively identifying the deponent. In addition, all parties are reminded that, “[u]nless the court orders otherwise, the parties may by written stipulation (1) provide that depositions may be taken before any person, at any time or place, upon any notice, and in any manner and when so taken may be used like other depositions, and (2) modify the procedures provided by these rules for other methods of discovery.” M.R. Civ. P. 29. If the parties so stipulate to the person before whom the deposition is to be taken, that person has the authority to administer oaths.

Maryland — Effective March 30, 2020, until the termination of the state of emergency and the proclamation of the catastrophic health emergency has been rescinded, except as may be rescinded, superseded, amended, or revised by additional orders. The order issues guidance to notaries public on the use of communications technologies that permit the notary to see and hear the person signing a document in realtime.

Michigan — pending implementation

Minnesota – Effective January 1, 2019, the Minnesota Legislature enacted remote online notarization pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 358 and 359, allowing a notary public who is physically located in this state to perform a remote online notarial act as defined in Minnesota Statutes 358.645.

Mississippi – All persons qualified to administer an oath in the State of Mississippi may swear a witness remotely by audio-video communications equipment for purposes of readily identifying the witness until otherwise ordered by the Supreme Court of Mississippi.

Missouri – Effective March 25, 2020, until otherwise further ordered by the Supreme Court of Missouri. The Court hereby suspends any local or Missouri Supreme Court rule that may be interpreted to require administering any oath or affirmation in-person when such oaths or affirmations can be administered remotely by available technologies, including videoconferencing or teleconferencing, and is not otherwise prohibited by any statutory or constitutional provision.

Montana – Effective October 1, 2019, Montana Notaries are permitted to perform remote notarizations for signers outside the state.

Nevada

New Hampshire — Effective March 23, 2020. Governor Sununu in Emergency Order #11, Pursuant to Executive Order 2020-4, has temporarily authorized the authority to perform secure online notarization.

New York – Effective March 7, 2020, through April 18, 2020, any notarial act that is required under New York State law is authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology provided that certain requirements are met. As of 2017, the New York Department of State, with regard to CPLR 3113(d), stated that “…with respect to civil depositions, a notary may under the specific provisions of Article 31 of the CPLR and in compliance therewith, swear in a remote witnesses. …” 

North Dakota – The webcam notarization law took effect August 1, 2019. The statute permits the Secretary of State to publish rules for remote notarization, but the Secretary of State is not required to do so.

Ohio – The Ohio Notary Public Modernization Act took effect September 2019. An online notarization is permitted by an Ohio notary public who has been authorized by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office to perform online notarizations. With regard to remote oath administration during depositions, the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure contemplates the use of remote depositions (See Ohio R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6)). However, the rules do not state that the oath has to be administered in person. The Ohio rules regarding notaries public (see Ohio Revised Code 147) do not address the in-person administration of oaths at a deposition.

Oklahoma 

Pennsylvania – Effective March 21, 2020, the requirement of physical presence of notaries who are court reporters/stenographers participating in criminal, civil, and administrative proceedings is suspended as pertaining to notarial acts and oaths of affirmations and will only last the duration of the declared disaster emergency.

South Dakota – The state’s remote notarizations are currently limited to paper documents only and signers for remote notarizations may only be identified through the Notary’s personal knowledge.

Tennessee

Texas – The Texas Supreme Court issued Emergency Order No. 1 allowing for all participants in a civil or criminal proceeding – including a Texas Certified Shorthand Reporter – to appear remotely until it expires on May 8 or is extended. 

Vermont – Notaries public holding a commission to perform notarial acts in Vermont may perform a Remote Notarial Act while physically located in Vermont and only under specified conditions.

Virginia

Washington — Effective March 24, 2020, until midnight on April 26, 2020, Senate Bill (SB) 5641, An Act Relating to Electronic Notarial Acts by Remotely Located Individuals — which was to initially take effect October 1, 2020 — is to take effect immediately, from March 27, 2020, until midnight on April 26, 2020.

West Virginia – Effective March 25, 2020. The statutory regulation with respect to the provisions of the Code applicable to court reporters and other notaries, the requirements of personal appearance for a notarial act that relates to a statement made in or a signature executed on record is suspended for the duration of the State of Emergency.

Wisconsin – Effective March 25, 2020 until April 30, 2020. Pursuant to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin’s administrative and superintending authority, court reporters qualified to administer an oath in the State of Wisconsin may administer an oath to a witness at a deposition remotely via audio-visual communications technology from a location within the State of Wisconsin, provided the person administering the oath can see and hear the person and can identify the witness. It is further ordered that if a witness is not located within the State of Wisconsin, the witness may consent to being put on oath remotely via audio-visual communication technology by a court reporter qualified to administer an oath in the State of Wisconsin pursuant to this order. It is further oredered that (1) this order does not alter the ability of parties, by written stipulation, to provide that depositions may be taken before any person, at any time or place, upon any notice, and in any manner pursuant to Wis. Stat. § (Rule) 804.04; and (2) the parties to an action or proceeding may, by written stipulation, modify the procedures provided by this order. It is further ordered that the remote administration of an oath at a deposition via audio-visual communications technology pursuant to this order shall constitute the administration of an oath “before” a court reporter under Wis. Stat. §§ (Rules) 804.03(1) and 887.01(1) or any court order authorizing a deposition upon oral examination; and any other rule of procedure, court order, or opinion applicable to remote depositions that can be read to limit or prohibit the use of audio-visual communication equipment to administer oaths at depositions remotely is hereby suspended.

Still to come

A few other states have enacted remote notarization laws, but these have not taken effect. If you work in one of the following states, be sure to check with your State Notary, Secretary of State, or other regulatory agency for your state’s specific remote notarization or oath administration laws.

Arizona, effective July 1, 2020.

Iowa, effective July 1, 2020.

Maryland, effective October 1, 2020.

Nebraska, effective July 1, 2020.

Washington, effective October 1, 2020.

As a final reminder, if any of your licenses are set to expire in the next few months, taking action early could help you keep working in case the situation worsens.

Please note that the information provided includes condensed summarizations, descriptions, and opinions regarding recently enacted statutes. The information is not intended, nor should it be construed, to be legal advice. Members with particular needs concerning the specific issues mentioned should seek the guidance or retention of competent counsel.

Hearing aids might be the key to my RPR

Callie Sajdera

By Callie Sajdera

My hearing problems were a huge challenge for me. I have been irritated and upset because I am constantly asking “what” to people all the time or asking them to please repeat themselves or just not answering. I have severe ringing in my ears, and it has affected the way I feel about getting up and going to work on any day. I noticed the ringing more prominently when I was in school. I have become a pretty good lip reader and a very context-focused person.

I decided to go get treatment when my boyfriend, Matt Moss, was helping me scope a rather large transcript that I needed help with. He suggested to me that maybe I have a really difficult time hearing women’s voices and that I should try to get my ears checked. He wasn’t wrong. I already knew that I struggled hearing women’s voices over men, and it was also difficult for me to comprehend fast-speaking people.

My official diagnosis was tinnitus (which I was already aware of) and moderately severe irreversible hearing loss. This came as a shock because now they can do several things to help improve people’s hearing, such as cochlear implants and so on. The doctor sent me straight next door to the hearing aid specialist and told me to start there. He didn’t really tell me he could do anything for me, although he is concerned that I am so young with such significant loss. I asked for a copy of my audiogram and the results showed that on the speaking scale I went from “normal range” straight down to “moderately severe hearing loss.” There really was no middle ground.

I was disheartened by the fact that I am 26 years old and needed to get hearing aids. I was nervous that people would see them and that it would be obvious. Not only was I concerned about the physical hearing aid, they are a small fortune. Getting my hearing aids have been the most life-changing thing I’ve done in my whole life. I never knew what I was missing out on because I could never hear it in the first place. With my hearing aids, I can listen to conversations and tune in without asking anyone to repeat what they said or try to piece it together on my own. They are so small, and they match my hair color so no one can even tell.

My practice and everyday work life have improved tenfold. I could instantly tell that my hearing was a huge barrier for me, and now that it is resolved, I feel like I can take on anything that work throws at me. I am in a practice club that has seen my frustrations with getting several 94 percent scores on my RPR speed legs. I have started practicing with over-the-ear headphones that cover my hearing aids, and I am so amazed with the progress already, and it’s been a week!

I am registered again for my RPR coming up in March. I already have the written leg, just need to get the speeds down. I have registered for all three tests (180, 200, and 225) to take this time around, and I am hoping to seal the deal on at least one of them! I am very positive and optimistic that it will happen for me this time. My ultimate goal for getting my full RPR is by the end of this year or sooner. Ideally, I’d love to get it before the NCRA Convention, so I can finally get an RPR sticker to put on my name badge!

I know a lot of students and working reporters have and do struggle with tinnitus. It is a huge barrier, especially in our career. I just want to add that barriers come in all shapes and sizes, but if you love what you do, you’re willing to do whatever it takes to constantly improve.

Callie Sajdera is an official reporter with the Denver District Court in Denver, Colo.

In Texas: Big ideas, bigger solutions

By Kim Cherry

You know what they say, everything is bigger in Texas! And that’s generally the case whether you’re talking about chicken fried steaks or road construction. One thing that probably isn’t as big in Texas as in other areas, but is just as serious, is the shortage of court reporters. We have heard about this issue for the past five years, and small actions have been taken to try to alleviate the impeding predictions. The 2013-2014 Industry Outlook Report by Ducker Worldwide (commis­sioned by NCRA) forecast has essentially come to fruition in all aspects.

In Texas, it was estimated that in 2018 we would be approximately 500 court reporters short of the demand. While some areas across our big state have felt the impact more than others, it has definitely become the main focus of those concerned in seeking answers.

In 2017, the Texas Court Reporters Associ­ation (TCRA) laid the groundwork for gaining momentum in this area. Instead of just sitting idly by, “hoping” and discussing the problem, TCRA polled its members, received input from stakeholders, hired some spit-fire lobbyists, and set out to put the train back on the track.

The Texas Legislature runs at a different time schedule than many other states, and Janu­ary 2019 was the beginning of the 86th Legis­lative session in Texas. Preparations had been made and TCRA, led by Steve and Amy Bresnen, trudged forward to make legislative history for Texas court reporters.

Texas H.B. 1619 was first introduced by a well-respected legislator, House Representative Jeff Leach, and co-authored by House Rep­resentative Art Fierro. Leach was chair of the House Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurispru­dence, which was exactly where the bill needed to land. Texas Senate Bill 2094 was introduced in the other assembly by Sen. Brian Hughes. With those two bills being filed, we were plant­ed to further our endeavors of righting the derailment.

Now the hard work began. Our two es­teemed lobbyists worked tirelessly with the TCRA Legislative Committee, educating the legislature about the needs of the court reporting profes­sion. Countless hours, phone calls, emails, and lots of prayer went into the daily regime of getting the bills through committees. It was an everyday diligent effort work­ing on court reporters’ behalf, fueled by sheer determination and the continued subject of the “shortage.”

After several days, weeks, and months of work, an opportunity arose, and we jumped. Texas Senate Bill 891, an omnibus bill, became our new ticket. An omnibus bill is a proposed law that can cover a number of diverse or unrelated topics. Omnibus is derived from Latin and means “for everything.” An omnibus bill is a single document that is accepted in a single vote by a legislature but packages together several measures into one. This was a perfect vehicle for our bill. And in the end, this is what was passed.

I would love to explain all of the facets of the bill that pertain to court reporters; but for the sake of brevity, I have included the link to the analysis of the entire bill so that those with inquiring minds may go read every part of the new law. You can see it all here. The part pertaining to court reporters is Section 7.

The short rundown is as follows:

■ Court reporters’ records are not subject to the electronic transmission of documents under the Business & Commerce Code;

■ Notice of appeal must be served directly on the court reporter responsible for preparing the record;

■ Requirement of court reporting firms to sup­ply the signed document, known as further certification, to each reporter upon request;

■ Establishes two new categories/licenses of court reporters: apprenticeship court report­er and provisional court reporter;

■ Establishes reciprocity and substantially equivalent provisions;

■ Court reporting firms that are primarily owned and operated by a licensed court reporter shall pay only one registration fee;

■ Continuing education requirements for court reporting firms;

■ Clarifying complaint categories;

■ Clarifying gift-giving;

■ Outlining failure to fulfill commitments;

■ Clarifying prohibited contracts — restricting an attorney’s choice.

All of the new law has a definite impact on the court reporting profession. The three areas specifically addressing the shortage are the two new licenses established by the Legislature and the category entitled Reciprocity Agreement.

The apprenticeship and provisional licenses have been created in name, but the parameters of each license rest on the shoulders of the Texas Judicial Branch Certification Commission (JBCC), which regulates court reporters and firms in the state. Part of the legislation mandat­ed the JBCC to establish a stakeholder group comprised of various interested parties to make recommendations for the requirements of each license. At the present time, those meetings have taken place and the recommendations have been approved by the JBCC. Those have been sent out for public comment and await approval by the Texas Supreme Court.

Essentially, the provisional license will be for those with an equivalent license outside of Texas to come work in Texas for a stated period of time until such time as they pass the skills portion of the Texas state test. It is required that prior to application for such license, the written portion of the Texas state test be passed and that the applicant show proof of performing court reporting in another jurisdiction for three of the preceding five years.

The apprenticeship license is designed for the student working to achieve passage of the state test. This would also be for a stated period of time and would entail passing Part B, the written portion of the test, and passing one portion of Part A, the skills portion. The apprentice would be required to be under direct supervision of a Texas certified court reporter and be limited in reporting certain types of legal proceedings. Other provisions apply and will soon be posted on the JBCC website.

The reciprocity agreement portion of the new law would involve much the same as a provisional license. It would require that the applicant have a substantially equivalent license as confirmed by the JBCC and have the same requirements of passage of the Texas written test and performing court reporting for three of the preceding five years. The reciprocity agree­ment differs from the provisional as the reci­procity would be for court reporters who have licenses from states that have been confirmed as substantially equivalent to the Texas state test by the JBCC prior to application.

As of Feb. 7, 2020, the following states have been deemed as substantially equivalent: Alabama, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, and West Virginia. More about the JBCC endorsement procedures are available here.

In regard to reciprocity, the Texas Govern­ment Code Sec. 152.202 outlines the specific rule, but in essence it only comes into play when an agreement has been reached with another state to offer certification that’s reciprocal. For example, if a reciprocity agreement was in place with New Mexico, court reporters from Texas could practice in New Mexico and New Mexico court reporters would be able to practice in Texas, so long as all the parameters are in place.

The Commission was also required by Jan­uary 2020 to begin reaching out to other states in regard to reciprocity agreements. There are no agreements in place at this time.

There is still work to be done in bringing the train completely back on the track, but as you can see, Texas has made monumental steps in creating avenues to address the shortage in our profession. So, when you hear someone say, “Everything is bigger in Texas,” believe them. Along with having a big state, we have big ideas and even bigger solutions. Come to Texas and work!

Kim Cherry, RMR, is a past president of the Texas Court Reporters Association. She can be reached at kimcherry@rocketmail.com.

Registered Skilled Reporter (RSR) Skills Test registration open until Feb. 20

Registration is open for aspiring court reporters to test in March 2020 for a new NCRA certification, the Registered Skilled Reporter (RSR). This new designation will recognize those stenographic professionals who are looking to validate their beginning level of competency.

“Those new professionals who make the commitment to earn the RSR are also showing their commitment to continuing their skills and proficiency through professional practice while earning an income,” said NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, Franklin, Tenn.

Earning the RSR will demonstrate an ability to hold a verified level of skill to current and potential clients, current and potential employers, and fellow reporters.

Created as a stepping-stone credential to ultimately achieving the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) designation, the RSR certification will offer the prestige of an NCRA certification for those new or returning to the court reporting profession who have yet to be able to get their writing speeds up enough to earn the RPR.

Current or aspiring stenographic reporters are eligible to earn the RSR and do not need to be members of NCRA to take the certification’s tests.

Candidates seeking the RSR need to pass three, five-minute Skills Tests:

RSR Literary at 160 words per minute

RSR Jury Charge at 180 words per minute

RSR Testimony/Q&A at 200 words per minute

To pass, an accuracy level of 95 percent is required for each leg. Passed RPR skills tests cannot be used toward earning the RSR.

There is a critical need for qualified, competent stenographers, and the RSR certification will help employers differentiate among candidates applying for these opportunities.

“When you earn the RSR, you have an opportunity to continue learning but begin to enjoy the personal satisfaction of seeing your skills used in professional practice and earn income while you continue your learning,” said NCRA Vice President Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC of Woodland, Utah. “It’s a win/win!”

Visit the NCRA website for more information.

Make the most of your NCRA membership by marking these dates on your calendar

Have you already set your professional goals for 2020? Here are a few ways that NCRA can help you make more money by earning a certification; develop your network by participating in networking events like the NCRA Conference & Expo; or work smarter by learning something new – and earn CEUs to boot. Mark these important dates on your calendars, and you will have taken an important baby step to meeting your professional goals this year. NCRA continues to be your one-stop shop for your educational needs, whether you are working toward your next certification, your cycle-ending date, or another career goal.

Keep in mind that NCRA members can earn PDCs by passing the skills or written portion of certain tests, such as the RMR, RDR, CRR, or CLVS Exams.

Here is a short selection of dates and events (dates are subject to change):

Because of how important certification is to the professions of court reporting, captioning, and legal videography, NCRA invites all members to “Celebrate Certification” Month with us in May. We celebrate all NCRA members as they show pride in the certifications they have earned, are working to earn, or are intending to earn.

Court Reporting & Captioning Week (Feb. 8-15), Memorial Day (May 25), Flag Day (June 14), the Fourth of July, and Veterans Day (Nov. 11) are also all good opportunities to schedule Veterans History Project Days to earn PDCs, although members and students are invited to participate throughout the year. And don’t forget that online skills testing is available year-round.

In addition, NCRA is planning webinars throughout the year, which will be announced in the JCR Weekly and on the NCRA FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn pages as more information becomes available.

NCRA has announced Town Halls with NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, for Jan. 11, Feb. 22, and March 21. Additional dates will be announced later this year. The Town Halls, offered via Zoom, allow NCRA members the opportunity to ask questions via a Q&A feature. Registration is required, and only NCRA Members may attend the Town Halls.

Watch for more information in the JCR, in the JCR Weekly, and on TheJCR.com for registration, deadlines, and other ideas to earn continuing education.

The life cycle of a Skills Test

By Eva Liu

Believe it or not, from the birth of a Skills Test to its activation for our candidates, it involves quite a lengthy process and many people.

There are two committees whose charges include writing Skills Tests – The Skills Committee and the Test Advisory Committee (TAC).  Each committee member is responsible for writing several tests a year.  The Certification and Testing department works with the chairs to assign each committee member their various tests. Committee members use a software program called Syllables to ensure each test meets NCRA standards.  After the tests are submitted, TAC members travel to NCRA headquarters twice a year to “test the tests.”  Committee members bring their steno machines and write out each test that’s been submitted.  They make changes as they see appropriate, mark punctuation, determine preview words, and sometimes have to “throw out” some tests.  TAC works all day for two to three days approving tests to ensure candidates get top-quality tests.

After the approval process by TAC, NCRA staff formats and makes any noted changes accordingly.  Then, the tests are ready to be recorded at the recording studio by our voice talents.  The voice talents usually record about 30 tests in two days, including all types of Skills Tests, Jury Charge, Literary, Testimony, etc.  The NCRA staff is there with the voice talents to make sure that the tests are read perfectly and on time marks. 

After that, studio engineer and voice talent Rob Buhrman takes the recorded tests to his studio to re-check everything again, take out edits and the repeated parts that were recorded, and produce the perfect five minutes of test audio candidates hear on their tests.  Once Buhrman has finished, he uploads all the newly recorded tests so NCRA staff can listen to them and check one last time just to make sure there are no additional errors. 

Once the audio part is done, all the tests are formatted by NCRA staff for NCRA’s testing platform, allowing the platform to provide a preliminary score once candidates copy and paste their transcripts.  All tests with punctuation marks and preview words are scanned for NCRA qualified graders.  NCRA staff uploads all three files – computer-formatted documents, PDFs for graders, and audio files to the Realtime Coach testing platform once all items are complete. Every test that a candidate takes has gone through this entire life cycle.

“The creation of NCRA skills tests is a long and tedious process comprised of multiple resources: Two volunteer testing committees, certification and testing staff, voice talents, recording studio engineers, and NCRA partner vendors,” said NCRA Certification and Testing Director Amy Davidson. 

Eva Liu is the NCRA Certification and Testing Program Manager.

NCRA member recognized in local paper

The Herald-Whig reported on Dec. 29 that NCRA member Erin Johnson of Carthage, Ill., earned the Registered Professional Reporter certification. The announcement was generated from a press release distributed by NCRA on behalf of Johnson.

Read more.

NCRA member recognized in local news

The Detroit Legal News posted a press release on Dec. 18, issued by NCRA on behalf of Gina Wells of Chesterfield, Mich., announcing that she has earned the RPR.

Read more.

Local reporter recognized

The Hawk Eye posted a press release on Dec. 15, issued by NCRA on behalf of member Erin Johnson, Carthage, Ill., announcing that she recently earned the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification.

Read more.