New Professional Spotlight: Brad Benjamin

Brad Benjamin

Brad Benjamin is a new freelance court reporter in Chicago, Ill. A graduate of MacCormac College, he covers various types of work including court hearings, municipal board meetings, and depositions.

JCR | How did you become interested in becoming a court reporter?

BB | Court reporting always fascinated me. I remember watching the movie Drop Dead Fred when I was a teenager. Phoebe Cates plays a court reporter who gets fired in one of the first scenes. The judge fires her right before a hearing because she is late to court. I remember thinking, ‘Well, who will they find to replace her on such short notice?’

It wasn’t until I was 33 and looking for a career change that I came up with the idea to pursue court reporting during a brainstorming session with a friend. He had recently become a bailiff and encouraged me to consider the legal or law enforcement fields.

After researching a few programs, I concluded that I would complete the whole court reporting curriculum in about six months. I was wrong. But that’s another story.

JCR | Where did you first start working once you graduated/certified?

BB | I started working at Sullivan Reporting Co., a Chicago court reporting agency that has been around since 1937. Although Sullivan is no longer run by court reporters, they are extremely supportive of their reporters, and I feel I could not have thrived as a reporter had I gone a different direction when starting out. In addition to a few other agencies, I am happy to say I am still working with Sullivan today.

JCR | What do you love most about being a court reporter so far?

BB | Despite some pretty long hours, nothing compares to being my own boss. Nothing.

JCR | What advice do you have for students who are near the end of their education?

BB | Get out there and shadow professional reporters. Pretend like you are the reporter hired for the job and accountable for producing a transcript. I shadowed reporters and scoped their transcripts for over a year while in my higher-speed classes. It kept me engaged and enthused about the industry I was about to enter and, more importantly, not intimidated by my options when I reached the end of my education.

JCR | What’s your favorite gadget that you bring with you to every job?

BB | I always have my jump drive with me, and I’m always backing up.

JCR | How has certification helped you in your career thus far?

BB | I have my Illinois CSR and am planning to earn NCRA certifications in the future. My CSR has enabled me to work in a state where there is a massive demand for court reporters and desirable jobs are widely available.

JCR | Any other thoughts?

BB | Well, ok. If you insist, I will admit my education took a while, not the six months I deliriously envisioned at the outset. However, I do not regret a single day of it and would do it all over again to have the career that I have.

Michael Hensley, RDR, a freelance reporter in Dublin, Calif., is the chair of the NCRA New Professionals Committee. He can be reached atstenomph@gmail.com.

The Men of Court Reporting

By Rich Germosen

Rich Germosen and Anthony Frisolone

Have you ever noticed that court reporting is a field dominated by the lovely ladies?  No? Oh, I have. When I first started this journey in September of 1990, I was one of six males in two theory classes with a combined 106 students. As you can imagine, as a young man, this was a beautiful thing. It is something that I got used to very quickly. I know back in the 1950s and 1960s, court reporting was a male-dominated field. Not so today.

This year as 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week approached, I had a thought: Wouldn’t it be great to highlight the Men of Court Reporting on Facebook? I started the week with a post indicating that I was going to be highlighting some of the Men of Court Reporting. I started by posting pictures of my male court reporting friends who I’ve met at the conventions every summer the past several years. Then the idea sort of took off, and I started to highlight and post a picture of every male court reporter that I knew.

Some comments from a couple of female court reporters suggested that highlighting the men of this great field was something that was long overdue. It started to become a group effort as some male court reporters such as Lance Boardman, RDR, CRR; Michael Bouley, RDR; Reid Goldsmith, CRI; Mike Miller, FAPR, RDR, CRR; and others started sending me suggestions to post this gentleman, or we need to post this gentleman as well.

Carlos Martinez

If you go to my personal Facebook page, the “Men of Court Reporting” posts are all there with a public setting, so that anyone can view them all, and I also used the hashtag #CRCW2019.

I thought it really made the week very special for all the hardworking men who are in this female-dominated field. There were a lot of men who I didn’t post since I don’t know everyone, but I gave it my best shot. Thank you, men of court reporting!


Dave Collier

Also in the back of my mind, I was thinking that other young men might perhaps see how many men there are in court reporting and would think of going into this industry.

Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR, is a  freelance court reporter from North Brunswick, N.J.


I love my job (my love affair could be yours, too)

By Brenda D. Blackburn, RPR

Brenda Blackburn

I have proven myself to be resilient, determined, and steadfast in my profession, and I have embraced many technological advances throughout the 35 years I have reported.  In 1979 I was majoring in English when I agreed to go with a friend to the business school at Ole Miss to check out something. I was killing time and without direction. When we entered the room in the business school, it was filled with these strange little machines. That was the first time I had seen a shorthand machine, although my dad had made me aware of the profession a few years before.  He had known a man that was a stenographer. When I saw that machine, the next thing out of my mouth was, “I want to do that.”  I guess it was love at first sight, and it has lasted.

Working as a waitress in college, I struggled financially to say the least. When it came time to buy a $500 manual shorthand machine, I was also short. I borrowed most of it from my roommate. I am certain she never expected to see the balance. I know I felt I would never make it. By the grace of God I made it beyond that to complete my shorthand requirement, 225 words a minute, and began freelancing in Memphis, Tenn. About six months later, I was appointed as an official in Chancery Court; and later Circuit Court in Mississippi. Sometime in the ’90s, Mississippi created a CSR board and required its reporters be certified. I was grandfathered at that time, based on my years, but took and passed the Registered Professional Reporter exam in 2004.  Around that time, I also qualified in the Magnolia Cup Speed Competition held in Tunica, Miss.: 96.5 percent accuracy, 200 wpm Legal Opinion; 95.7 percent on 200 wpm Literary; 96.2 percent on 250 wpm Jury Charge. After all these years, I keep striving to improve.  As I always say, “I’m not dead yet.”  I practice every day.

I have heard matters of child support, divorce, murder, city annexations, patent cases, and, most famous, the estate of Robert L. Johnson, the blues singer. I have taken the testimony of the medical examiner who determined that, yes, Elvis is dead. Most importantly, I know that each time I have reported the ordinary everyday type of case, I have remembered to put myself in that person’s place, whether defendant or victim, or parties in a civil matter. I always remained impartial regarding the record, and stood up against small-town public opinion at times to maintain the integrity of the record with regard to defendants’ rights.

Brenda Blackburn in 1979

The years I have had in this career have been a great gift. They have taught me a lot about others and myself, and they definitely remind me each day how blessed I have been through the good times and bad. I retired in 2015, after 32 years as an official. I felt a little lost at first because this work has been so much a part of my life.  I began freelancing again, and I am learning something new every day, regardless of my experience.

I volunteer for an NCRA program called the
A to Z™ Intro to Machine Shorthand program , and I have begun to try to encourage some young people into this profession that I hope will develop the same love I have for that little machine and fill some of those vacant positions we have in Mississippi.  What an awesome profession when you can work 35 years and not want to stop.

I don’t know why I had not done this before, but I recently attended my first national convention in New Orleans, La. I am glad I checked this off my bucket list. I was definitely inspired.  I also made some very special friends. Our profession is filled with such a unique and creative group of people. I am so proud and thankful to be one of the proud, the few, the brave in the most unique profession in the world.

Interested in joining the ranks of the elite and becoming a court reporter?  E-mail me to find out where A to Z classes might be held in Mississippi:  lakesidereporting@outlook.com.

Brenda D. Blackburn, RPR

Mississippi Delta (Greenville, Mississippi area)

What court reporters want to say but can’t, part 2

A recent post on our Facebook page attracted a lot of interest.

We all had some fun coming up with even more responses which led to “What court reporters want to say but can’t, part 2.”

Thanks to everyone who helped, and we would love to see what you can think of for part 3! Go to our Facebook page and comment with your suggestions.

Dear TV: I Have a Closed Caption Habit (And Apparently Many Others Do, Too)

TVLine.com posted an article on Jan 23 about why television viewers who are not deaf or hard-of-hearing keep closed captioning on.

Read more.

Q&A: Checking in with Joe Aurelio

Santo “Joe” Aurelio, FAPR, RDR (Ret.), has always had an attraction to the English language, first as a court reporter and later as a professor of English. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard University, and a doctorate in education from Boston University. After he retired from reporting because of a hearing loss, he became a visiting professor at colleges in the Boston area. He teaches a variety of subjects, but mainly English grammar and medicolegal terminology. He will be teaching a live webinar, Homonyms & Pseudohomonyms: The Nemesis of Reporters, Part 3 on Jan. 30, 6-7:30 p.m. ET. The JCR caught up with him to find out a little more about his background and the reason behind his interest in this topic.

Tell us a little about your career.

I started night school at the Boston Stenotype Institute, and on the first night I met a girl, Josephine, who later became my wife.

I ranged all over Massachusetts during my career. During my 39 years, I had a wealth of experiences. I took some important cases (my first murder case was my first case in Korea!) I met some dynamic attorneys while working at the state labor department. My job at the federal agency was to travel around New England taking the testimony from disabled applicants for Social Security aid (some of that was sad). My first case in Superior Court was a criminal case (I was to take many of those). Other than some horrendous murder cases, possibly the two most important cases that I took in Superior Court: one involved the New England Patriots football team and the other, of course, was the Boston Strangler. In a sentence, I’ve had an interesting reporting career with fine memories and opportunities to meet and/or report important persons.

When did you become an NCRA member?

I became an NCRA member, I believe, in 1957. I did so because I believe in unity. When reporters gather together and unite, they have strength and can chart their future course or at least help to chart that course. When reporters join, their dues help to pay for professional advice and lobbying efforts. It’s patently unfair for unregistered reporters to have the benefit of all of the strides that their fellow registered reporters have worked hard for. I am solidly aligned with local, regional, and national unions!

What started your interest in learning more about language than just what you needed for court reporting?

Even as a little kid of 10 or so, I would fool around with language (I’ll be back in a flash with some cash in my sash). Later I remember saying such things as “She would feint a faint.” I was always very interested in homonyms (such as made/maid) and what I would call pseudohomonyms (accede/exceed). In short, I was interested in language many years before I started stenotype reporting. I remember when I was about 14, there was a manual typewriter at the train station where I used to sell newspapers, and I used to put in a quarter to unlock it so that I could type on it for 30 minutes.

If you remember your days from your master’s and doctorate, what did you find was the difference you brought to your studies as a court reporter?

I went back to school late. I was almost 50 when I started my serious studying. My bachelor’s was 1983, the master’s was 1985, and the doctorate was 1989. What I think I brought to my studies was a deep focus that I had to use as a reporter: listening very carefully to every word spoken. In other words, because I was so serious about listening to and capturing every single word in court, I think that that held me in great stead in listening to my professors.

Frankly, it was very difficult to earn three degrees at night while working full-time in a busy court. How’d I do it? By being very motivated because I saw the handwriting on the wall: my hearing loss was making my daily job hard to do. I only succeeded in performing a creditable job in court by having a lot of speed (I passed a 280) and knowing and liking a great deal of English. And that’s how I lasted until 1990. (I wanted to teach in college, and to do that, one needs a lot of degrees.)

You’ve given one seminar for NCRA members recently, and you’re planning another one. What do you hope court reporters and captioners learn from your sessions?

I’ve done one webinar, and soon I’ll do another. I know that a lot of people, including reporters, have great difficulty with English, especially homonyms and pseudohomonyms. Mistakes are being made daily, and the reporters who commit them are not even aware that they’re using the wrong word or spelling a word incorrectly or malpunctuating a sentence. Well, even though I haven’t touched a stenotype since 1990, I still consider myself a reporter, and I feel that it’s my duty to correct or to help correct those who make those types of errors — and I want to do that until I hang up my skates. What I hope reporters will learn from these webinars is that I’d like all of them to learn and use the correct word or punctuation always.

Is there some advice that you would like all reporters and captioners to take to heart?

My advice to all reporters and captioners is to have the highest respect and fealty to the art and profession of reporting. It is an honorable profession. Think of it: Reporters are responsible for taking and transcribing all of the words of everybody. What could be more important than that? I rest my case.

Air selfies, 8K TVs, and cameras in the refrigerator — all at the CES

By Kelli Ann Willis

Kelli Ann Willis

I am a techie and have been one for years. CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, is the techie’s Super Bowl. Started in 1967, CES lasts four days, features 4,500 exhibiting companies, and draws about 180,000 attendees. It is the place where new technology is introduced, where envelopes are pushed, and many minds are blown. Each year, thousands of companies showcase their latest and greatest. Each year I have watched and waited, often with bated breath, for reports to come from the CES floor.

But this year was different. I was actually on the floor of CES, the 2019 edition, in Las Vegas, Nev.! Once I was registered, I shared this news with the Technology Committee. Lynette Mueller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Memphis, Tenn., the chair, suggested I report my findings from CES. I was glad to do so! Here is a recap of what we saw while my husband and I were there.

The outstanding technology this year was 5G and AI (artificial intelligence). Smart home devices were everywhere this year. Robots to help you at the mall or at home, faster phones, smarter and larger televisions, and self‐driving cars are truly coming.

I took over the NCRA Instagram feed through the four‐day show, during which I highlighted products I thought might be of interest to us court reporters! Here is a sampling of what I saw:

  • AI is big. Alexa is the Amazon product; Hey Google is the Google product; Bixby is the Samsung product, to name a few. Smart homes will implement this technology to make our lives easier. Lamps, stoves, refrigerators, faucets, mirrors, and cars are some of the products that were showcased at CES.
  • Televisions in 8K! Mind‐blowing images on huge televisions. Samsung had a 2,190‐inch TV. LG had an incredible wall – a massive, flexible display with completely astonishing images flowing through them in a loop. Amazing. LG also had a TV that rolls up into its base. Samsung had TVs that have screen savers that are classic paintings. HDMI 2.1 is delivering incredible content to those 4K and 8K televisions.
  • A bread vending machine, The Breadbot, was a huge hit at the show. There was a machine that washed and dried your eyeglasses. Tons of robots – not only the kind that will serve you a drink, but those that will vacuum your floor and one that cleans your windows!
  • LG’s newest cell phone has five cameras that can take photos simultaneously. Samsung’s soon‐to‐be released home speaker with Bixby can be used to communicate with your lights, your thermostat, and your TV. It can turn on a camera inside your refrigerator in case you are at the grocery store and need to know if you have milk.
  • Everything old is new again, including throwbacks like videogaming devices from the 1980s and 1990s. Turntables and vinyl are also making comebacks.

Every business is now a technology business — that was a theme running through all of CES this year. I was amazed and wowed. I can’t wait to go back next year.

Kelli Ann Willis, RPR, CRR, is a freelance court reporter from Hutchinson, Kan. She holds the Realtime Systems Administrator certificate and  is a member of NCRA’s Technology Committee.

Don’t Miss Out: Register for the Business Summit Today

Register for NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit being held Feb. 1-3 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in beautiful San Diego, Calif. The hotel room block closes on Jan. 9, so you can still save money by booking your hotel now.

The schedule is filled with insightful, informative, and cutting-edge sessions designed to provide the freelancers, firm owners, and managers attending with the latest tools and techniques for growing their business.

Community engagement and how it helps your business

A session titled “Civic Best Practice: Corporate Community Engagement” will explore why corporate community engagement is considered one of the best practices in today’s business environment and how to be successful at it. Find out more about the benefits businesses gain by integrating community engagement into their business plans, such as boosting employee commitment and recruitment. Gains also include raising awareness of the services and products the companies provide and securing reputations as leaders in the community. The session will culminate with a special Veterans History Project, as an example of just one of many wonderful ways to showcase the services and skills your business provides while giving back to those in the community who have served their country. The live oral history will capture the story of Rear Admiral Ronne Froman, USN (Ret.). In addition to serving 31 years in the U.S. Navy, Froman was the first woman to serve as commander of the U.S. Navy Region Southwest. In her last Navy job, she also served as the director of ashore readiness for the chief of naval operations, responsible for nearly 90 Navy stations and bases around the world with a $7 billion budget. As a change agent, Froman’s careers have spanned the military, public, private, and nonprofit businesses. Rear Admiral Froman will be interviewed by Jan Ballman, FAPR, RPR, CMRS, of Minneapolis, Minn.

How storytelling can boost your business

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.

Court reporting in the 21st century

Speaker and past NCRA Director Mike Miller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, is a freelance court reporter from Houston, Texas. As a follow-up to his Tough Love sessions, which have been held at national and state conferences throughout the United States, Miller will lead a seminar called “Tough Love Part 2,” which will challenge the 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.

Simple shifts can lead to extraordinary outcomes

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 for NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit. Remember, online registration for the 2019 Business Summit closes Jan. 20, 2019, and onsite registration and pricing starts Jan. 21, 2019.

The 2019 Business Summit schedule features additional experts who will not only inspire your business development but also will become a part of your network to help bolster your company into the future. The event will also include 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. And remember, February is the perfect time to enjoy the beauty, sunshine, and numerous attractions San Diego has to offer.








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.








2018 changes to Bylaws create new elections processes

Following the 2018 NCRA Annual Business Meeting, members voted to change the procedures for holding elections of members to the Board of Directors. Those changes will go into effect with the 2019 election process.

Overall, the changes will affect the timing of elections and when candidates are elevated to office. Since elections will continue through electronic means, please watch for email notices from NCRA in June and July.

More specifically, the Bylaws changed the following:

  • Members will now be able to vote for a time period of 24 hours instead of only for 12 hours.
  • Voting will occur at least 30 days before the Annual Business Meeting. (Although the timing of the 2019 Annual Business Meeting has not yet been set, the expected dates for the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo are Aug. 15-18.) See timeline below.
  • Voting on changes to the NCRA Constitution & Bylaws will not take place at the same time as the elections of members to the Board of Directors. Bylaws will continue to be voted on after the Annual Business Meeting, and members will be able to vote on Bylaws amendments for 24 hours.

In addition, if there are more candidates than the number of open seats for Director, candidates will no longer need to specify that they are opposing a specific candidate for a Director’s seat. This will also allow as many candidates who want to run for a seat to do so. Candidates will be elected to the Director seats by plurality of the votes; that is, the Directors’ seats will be filled by the candidates receiving the most votes in descending order. For example, if there were two openings for Directors and five nominees on the ballot, the two candidates who receive the most votes would fill the two available positions.

Finally, the Board of Directors will gradually reduce the number of Directors from nine to six over the next few years. To put this into place, Directors will be nominated to fill two Director seats instead of three. Directors will continue to be elected to three-year terms. (The exception: If additional seats are made available because of a Director’s elevation to Officer or for other reasons, additional candidates will be sought and nominated to complete the remainder of the term.)

This change to six Directors is expected to be completed in three years.

Members interested in nominating a colleague or hoping to serve on the Board may wish to attend a webinar on January 9, 2019, 8 p.m. ET. Contact Laura Butler at boardnominations@ncra.org to learn more about the webinar. Read more information on nominations.

Other amendments that were put into effect following the 2018 Annual Business Meeting do not affect the election procedure.