It’s a giving time of the year!  Make a difference!

By Sandy Bunch VanderPol

Sandy Bunch VanderPol

When you love something, you want to support it all the time, even if it takes a lot of effort and time. This is how I feel about our profession and the National Court Reporters Foundation, the philanthropic arm of NCRA.  As a Trustee on the NCRF, I have the privilege to serve all of you, as members of NCRA. It is indeed a privilege.

As a freelance reporter and an independent contractor, it has always been in my heart to support the profession I so love. I do this by volunteering my time and by supporting the profession with my financial contributions, and I have benefited greatly from doing this. Financial generosity is an important element in the success of any organization that supports the philanthropic efforts of that organization, and your financial support is necessary to the success of the charitable work of the NCRF.

I would ask all of you to please take a moment to consider making a charitable contribution to NCRF. There is no amount too small or too large. Your contribution will be spent wisely in supporting the many programs of NCRF. Make a difference! The feeling of giving – what a feeling it is!

Thank you in advance for your support. I appreciate it. Oh, and I forgot to mention, your contribution is tax deductible. And if you contribute $1,000, you will be an “NCRF Angel,” which can benefit you through networking and a number of public relations and marketing opportunities.

 

Sandy Bunch VanderPol, FAPR, RMR, CRR, of Lotus, Calif., is an NCRF Trustee and longtime NCRF Angel. Visit www.bit.ly/NCRFYEA to donate to NCRF to support your profession.

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?
PETER SAGAL: Yes.
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.
THE CAPTIONER: That’s me.
(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.
(Applause.)

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.

Guest speaker opportunity at a community college

NCRA member Penny Wile, RMR, CRR, owner of Penny Wile Court Reporting in Norfolk, Va., has been a court reporter for more than 30 years. Recently she showcased the court reporting and captioning profession to students in a paralegal course taught at her local community college.

By Penny Wile

Penny Wile talks to paralegal students

Approximately three months ago I took the deposition of a risk management specialist for a national chain of stores. It was a run-of-the-mill 30(b)(6) document production deposition stemming from an accident that resulted in a personal injury claim being filed. Plaintiff and defense appeared via video-teleconference, and the witness and I were together at the deposition site.

The deposition took most of the day, and during breaks the witness asked me questions about court reporting. We chatted about my profession and hers. Not only is she a risk management specialist, but she teaches a paralegal course locally, at Tidewater Community College on Thursday evenings.

At the conclusion of the deposition she asked if I would be interested in speaking to her class about court reporting. I eagerly agreed! Anytime I can attempt to recruit others to join the profession, I am happy to help.

We set several dates for me to appear, but there were delays. (Note to self: Don’t plan speaking engagements during hurricane season!)

I reached out to NCRA and asked if they could provide tools for me to use in my talk. I quickly received literature to download and print. The next day I received a box of print media and goodies for the class. I purchased some clear bags with handles and filled them with important information about court reporting:  History, training, career rewards and challenges, in addition to the goodies.

On Nov. 29, I spoke to the classroom of paralegal students. The students were eager to learn about the reporting profession. I started with a once-upon-a-time story of how I entered the profession. It’s not a glamorous story but one that should be told. They appeared to appreciate how I entered the profession. These students work during the day, have family obligations, and attend college at night. They are real people with busy lives trying to receive an education. They asked me many questions and seemed to be engaged. I spoke to them about my work abroad, some of the more rewarding assignments I have covered in my career, some of the unusual assignments I have covered, and gave them court reporting 101 in two hours .

Penny Wile sets up her machine for paralegal students

Two students in particular were very interested in training with the NCRA A to ZTM Program.  They were excited they could “try out” reporting and see if it would be a good fit for them. I provided my contact information and told them I would be happy to help them if they pursued training in the profession.

When my talk wrapped up, I couldn’t believe I had spoken for two hours! I have been invited back to be a guest speaker for the upcoming semester, and I look forward to the opportunity to inform and encourage others to enter the field of court reporting.

You can also read Career Days are great ways to promote the profession.

For more information about career day resources that are available from NCRA, contact pr@ncra.org, or visit the 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Resource page.

Career days are great ways to promote the profession

With 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week on the horizon, many NCRA members are planning to mark the event by participating in a career day at a local middle or high school where they can show off their steno skills and introduce students to the benefits of a career in court reporting or captioning.

The JCR Weekly reached out to NCRA members Ann Hall, RPR, an official court reporter from Monterey, Calif., and Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter from Fort Collins, Colo., who each recently participated in local school career days, to find out more about their experiences.

Ann Hall

In early November, Hall participated in a college/employment fair day at Seaside High School in Seaside, Calif., where she introduced the court reporting profession to students from all four of the grades. Hall said she was asked to participate by a counselor from the school, and she noted that the last time she had attended a career event was some 12 years ago.

“It was great to work with young people and hopefully get some of them interested in court reporting,” she said, adding that she would definitely do it again if asked. “Thanks to the package I received from NCRA, I had many NCRA magazines available, some ‘swag’ from various vendors, and information about court reporting in general.”

Among the many questions students asked her were: How does the machine work? What’s it like to be in court?  What do you do when people talk over one another? And among the responses, Hall heard: “Cool!  I’ve never seen a machine like that before.”

Hall added that she learned about the court reporting profession from a family friend who worked as a reporter, and it was he who encouraged her to pursue the career.

Jason Meadors

Meanwhile, in Colorado, Meadors said he showcased the court reporting and captioning professions to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders at the Broomfield Heights Middle School in Broomfield, Colo., upon the request of an associate.

Meadors said the students’ questions were great, and the experience gave him hope for the generation to come, because they were bright, inquisitive, and polite. The experience also gave him an appreciation for the need for NCRA members to get their story out to younger people.

“They wanted to know what type of training was involved, how much education, how much work per week, if travel was involved, what kind of people I ran across, what were my most and least favorite aspects of the job, if I got perks for airline miles – I don’t remember them all, but the questions were very perceptive,” he said.

“They thought the machine and realtime display was pretty cool. They thought the traveling I do was pretty cool,” added Meadors, who noted that he has done other career day events which, unlike this one that rotated students through one classroom, were set up similar to a vendor hall.

Meadors, who said he would certainly participate in a career event again, advises others who decide to attend one to go prepared with a presentation they want to give, but be agile, because the format they choose might not be the format that’s best for the setting.

“For instance, I had a PowerPoint prepared, but I ditched it. I was prepared to scatter realtime screens throughout the classroom, but that wouldn’t have worked as well either. Instead, I answered their scads of questions, I told the most entertaining but honest stories I could, and they gathered around while I did a realtime display,” he said.

“We really do have a fascinating profession. I gave my presentation in tandem with a lady who had the title of ‘project manager,’ and she kept complaining privately to me that she just sounded boring compared to the work we do,” he noted.

Meadors said he first learned about the court reporting career while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he was assigned to legal services clerk class right out of boot camp.

“The highest graduates of that class went to the court reporter class. It was stenomask training. I placed high there, found out I loved the work, and went to steno school upon my honorable discharge from the Marines,” he added.

NCRA member Penny Wile, RMR, CRR, owner of Penny Wile Court Reporting in Norfolk, Va., has been a court reporter for more than 30 years. Recently she also showcased the court reporting and captioning profession, but this time, to students in a paralegal course taught at her local community college. Read Penny Wile’s story.

For more information about career day resources that are available from NCRA, contact pr@ncra.org, or visit the 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Resource page.

 

 

Don’t miss the savings: Early registration rates end Dec. 10

Early registration rates end Dec. 10 for NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit being held Feb. 1-3 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in beautiful San Diego, Calif. Don’t miss this opportunity to take your business and yourself to a whole new level.

Freelancers, firm owners, and managers all will find something in the expanded program, which will feature business-focused education and access to high-end speakers. The schedule also includes experts who will not only inspire your business development but will also become a part of your network to help bolster your company into the future, as well as compelling panel discussions on topics critical to the growth of the profession, and even more networking opportunities than in previous years.

Also making a comeback is the Super Bowl Party to close out the event – another great reason to stay overnight Sunday for an extra few days to really get to know this one-of-a-kind city.

Highlights of this resource-packed event include:

Ann marie Houghtailing, entrepreneur, storyteller, and business coach, will present her Storytelling & Business Development session. Houghtailing, who launched her practice as a business development expert in 2009 with only $5 in her pocket, a MacBook, and a truckload of tenacity in the worst economic climate of her life, developed the Corporate Alliance Partner for the Institute for Sales and Business Development at the University of San Diego, Calif., just one year later. Today, she holds the reputation as one of the most sought-after business development and storytelling experts in the country and speaks regularly on narrative leadership and how to use storytelling as a tool of influence in business with her trademarked Narrative Imprinting® process.

Past NCRA Director Mike Miller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, is a freelance court reporter from Houston, Texas, who is known for his popular Depoman.com forum, which provided court reporters with a medium to share insights and address common issues from 1997 to 2015. Also recognized for his Tough Love session, Miller will lead a seminar called “Tough Love Part 2,” that will challenge most sacred beliefs about the business of court reporting with a focus on why being stuck in 1985 isn’t going to alleviate any of the issues faced by agencies and reporters in the 21st century.

Also on the schedule is Eunice Carpitella, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, who will serve as keynote speaker. She will address the practical idea that simple shifts in our routine patterns of interaction and mindset make it possible for business leaders to include, engage, and unleash everyone in solving problems, driving innovation, and achieving extraordinary outcomes.

Don’t wait. Register now and take advantage of the early registration rates for NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit before they end on Dec. 10. Attendees can save even more money by booking their hotel now before the guaranteed room block ends Jan. 8, 2019. Online registration for the 2019 Business Summit closes Jan. 20, 2019, and onsite registration and pricing starts Jan. 21, 2019.

Don’t forget, February is the perfect time to book early and stay late to enjoy the beauty, sunshine, and numerous attractions San Diego has to offer.

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.