Aptus Court Reporting adds seasoned industry experts with recent acquisition

In a press release issued May 12, Aptus Court Reporting, based in San Diego, Calif., announced that the firm has acquired Jane Grossman Reporting Services, which serves the San Francisco Bay area.

Read more.

NCRA member interviewed about SPCA benefit

ABC News Channel 13 interviewed NCRA member Penny Wile, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter and agency owner from Norfolk, Va., about the third Woofstock event to benefit the local SPCA being held at a local brewery.

Watch the interview.

Lexitas Announces Two Strategic Acquisitions

In a press release issued May 15, Lexitas announced that it has acquired New England-based Eppley Court Reporting and American Stenographic, based in New York, N.Y.

Read more.

NCRA member participates in fifth graders Law Day

On May 15, The Frontier and Holt County Independent posted a story about a Law Day that was held for local fifth graders in which NCRA member Kami Hooey, RPR, CRR, an official court reporter from Atkinson, Neb.,  participated.

Read more.

Hurry, savings for early convention registration end today

The special savings on registration fees for the 2019 Convention & Expo happening Aug. 15-18 in Denver, Colo., end today. Don’t miss this opportunity to take advantage of the special pricing of a $50 discount on the full registration.

While taking advantage of this opportunity to save, be sure to reserve your hotel room for the Convention at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center. Support NCRA and help keep rates for member events low by staying at the host hotel. Not only do you enjoy special lodging pricing, but you’ll also enjoy great amenities including continental breakfast on Friday and Saturday. Plus, staying at the host hotel puts you right at the site of all the exciting happenings including networking opportunities, educational sessions, the Expo floor, and this year’s keynote speaker the well-known Erin Brockovich, consumer advocate and environmentalist who served as the inspiration for the movie that carries her name.

Don’t miss your chance to save on registration fees, hotel rates, and be in the middle of the excitement planned for court reporters, captioners, legal videographers, and scopists, including the two-day CRC Workshop and CRC Exam, the ever-popular CRR Boot Camp, full-day vendor training workshops, and the Punctuation Workshop. And remember, throughout the Convention attendees can earn up to 1.175 CEUs.

Other highlights include such ticketed networking opportunities as the Opening Reception, the Awards Luncheon, and the Member Recognition Gala. The annual Realtime and Speed Contests are also expected to sell out quickly, so don’t delay registering for these special events!

For more information about the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo, or to register, visit NCRA.org/Convention. Don’t let procrastination make you miss the special pricing in effect through May 15 that will get early registrants a $50 discount on the full registration.

For sponsorship information please contact Mary Petto, Senior Director of External Affairs, at mpetto@ncra.org.

A Convention to Remember

Attending an NCRA Convention & Expo is a great experience for students. Last year, students attended special sessions teaching them proper courtroom behavior, online skills testing, professional working tips, and more. These students share their experiences attending their first national convention. 

Marina Garcia

Marina Garcia

Alvin, Texas

Alvin Community College

As court reporting students, our gospel is to practice, practice, practice; but sometimes we forget how equally important it is to surround ourselves with positive support and mentors. As a student, frustration becomes our normal.  We need some type of fresh air to regain our motivation, and that is exactly what I experienced at the 2018 NCRA Convention. The ambience is inspiring, electric, and most of all, fun. It was exactly what I needed to regain my motivation from burnout.

My biggest takeaway from the convention was seeing my future self in these amazing reporters because they, too, were once in our shoes. It was an honor to listen to the special guest speaker, witness the winners of the speed and realtime contests, and attend the student sessions to meet other reporters and students from all over the nation. The convention unravels the real world of court reporting and captioning outside of our classrooms to show us how worthwhile it is to work hard, never give up, and never stop trying to improve our skills. I’m already looking forward to attending as many conventions as I possibly can.

Ezra Campbell

Ezra Campbell 

Athens, Ga.

Studying for his RPR

Attending the 2018 NCRA conference in New Orleans, La., was a special experience for me for a couple of reasons. For one, it was my first court reporting conference, and I attended as a student. I was overwhelmed at first, but it proved to be a great learning experience.  I did not regret putting myself out there and meeting other students, as well as many knowledgeable working reporters and captioners. The kicker came with the fact that it was located at the Hyatt Regency, where I used to work as a barista. It was both a familiar and an exciting environment, and I came away even more determined to launch my career.

Parker Burton

Parker Burton
Atlanta, Ga.
Brown College of Court Reporting

In August of 2018, I had the opportunity to attend my first NCRA convention as a student. Admittedly, I was quite nervous about what to expect, who I would meet, whether the professionals would have time to entertain my questions, and whether I would feel like an outcast among the other students. I am happy to report that my preconceived notions were all incorrect. After attending the convention in the vibrant city of New Orleans, La., I was more motivated by my fellow students and armed with more advice than I could ever have hoped to obtain.

I would encourage all students who are members of NCRA to make it a priority to plan early to attend the next NCRA convention, in Denver, Colo. There is so much information to gather and networking to be done that will be beneficial to your future endeavors, both as a student and then as a professional.  All the information you learn in school is valuable, but the experience of attending an NCRA convention and sharing ideas, successes, struggles, and helpful hints with like-minded people from across the country and beyond will help accelerate your skills and encourage you to push further.

See you in Denver!

Logan Kislingbury

Logan Kislingbury

Houston, Texas

Mark Kislingbury’s Academy of Court Reporting

The 2018 NCRA convention in New Orleans, La., was my first convention experience as a court reporting student and NCRA member. I’ve been to plenty of conventions in the past with my dad, but I treated them only as vacations. One of the biggest changes that I noticed as a student was what the convention hall really provided. What was once a place full of seemingly endless booths of free candy, popcorn, and freebies, became a small city, because I understood what each booth was and what that company stood for. The main benefit of the convention hall changed from candy to networking. I met a lot of passionate people who each had different stories and were so happy to see a new student entering the field. Leaving with more than 15 business cards felt great; I’m very excited to keep in contact with these people in the future! 

Another part of the convention I’d never experienced was taking classes. I participated in some student classes where I learned about the differences between freelancing and officials, how realtime worked, and what you can do with it, and the huge world of opportunities that becoming a court reporter opens. I made friends with other students who know the struggles and accomplishments of school just like I do. Plenty of court reporters volunteered their time just to help us and answer our questions solely because they care so much about the profession. I had so much fun and learned so much in New Orleans last year. And I’ll do it all again in Denver this year!

NCRA Boot Camp boosts lobbying confidence

NCRA members hit Capitol Hill in full force on Tuesday, May 7, as part of the NCRA Leadership & Legislative Boot Camp. More than 80 attendees shared the importance of the court reporting and captioning professions with senators, representatives, and staff members.

Jocelynn Moore, NCRA Director of State Government Relations, called the day a big success.

“On Capitol Hill, it’s common for constituents to meet with the elected member’s staff for 15 minutes to a half hour,” Moore said. “Our Boot Camp attendees from Montana and Oregon not only met with the staff of a senator for an hour-and-a-half but were also given a private tour of the House and Senate office buildings and were invited to attend a constituent coffee the following day where they discussed the Training for Realtime Writers grant program with both senators Tester and Daines, as well as Congressman Gianforte. After their meetings, Sen. Tester’s staff even took them on another private tour to see the Capitol. As a former staffer on the Hill, I was absolutely amazed. That sort of facetime just doesn’t happen.”

The event started with two days of training with Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC, NCRA Interim Executive Director & CEO, and Moore.

(Read Dineen Squillante’s “My NCRA Boot Camp experience.”)

“My experience at Boot Camp was simply amazing!” said Rebecca Brewer, RPR, CRR, of St. Louis, Mo. “I find it hard to explain to others, you simply just have to attend to understand the intensity of the training and the wealth of knowledge gained from attending. Dave Wenhold, with his vast knowledge and experience of the legislative process, was able to train the attendees in an easily understandable way, making the Boot Camp that much more enjoyable.”

Wenhold outlined the goals of the event and discussed the nuts and bolts of association work. Wenhold and Moore then talked to attendees about politics on Capitol Hill and how to effectively advocate for ideas and legislation. Moore followed with a presentation about the state of court reporting and captioning throughout the country and how to effectively advocate before state legislatures. NCRA Board President Sue A. Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, Springfield, Ohio, and NCRA President-Elect Max Curry, RPR, CRI, Franklin, Tenn., ended the first day of Boot Camp with a discussion about the state of electronic and digital recording throughout the country.

During the second day of Boot Camp, Mike Goodman, with Cornerstone Government Affairs, Washington, D.C., began the day by talking to attendees about the dos and don’ts of lobbying members of congress. Then attendees broke out into a mock scenario session, in which they were trained to lobby before senators and representatives, and they had the opportunity to testify before a mock congressional committee. The day ended with Wenhold and Moore discussing the proper way to network and what they were to expect on Capitol Hill when lobbying for key legislation.

On Hill Day, NCRA members asked legislators and staff to make sure funds for captioning training are included the next time the Higher Education Act is reauthorized.

Margary Rogers, RPR, CRI, Washington, D.C., and Crystal Pilgrim, RPR, Silver Spring, Md., reported on a successful meeting with Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who represents Maryland, and his Legislative Director Sarah Shenning, who said they supported the reauthorization of the captioning grant money.

“We met Sen. Van Hollen because we arrived 15 minutes early and met him as he walked in for the day,” Rogers said. “The senator asked us why we were there.  We were prepared and answered questions with confidence. We told him about the HEA Act Bill 872, the reauthorization, FIPSE. We informed him that we represented NCRA and that we were court reporters here in Washington, D.C.  He even did the court reporter finger motion and said how fascinating our jobs were.”

First-time attendee Lori McCoin Jones, RPR, CCR, Midlothian, Va., met with staff members for Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Mark Warner, Sen. Tim Kaine, Rep. Abigail Spanberger, and Rep. Elaine Luria.

“Boot Camp was a wonderful experience to bond with other reporters, gather information, and stretch and grow as reporters advocating for our profession,” Jones said.   

Miranda Seitz, Eau Claire, Wisc., also reported a great experience.

“I think as court reporters we feel that we should not interrupt unless we absolutely have to, and as women doubly so. The fact that NCRA has taken on the task of providing this kind of training and experience for their membership that goes so much against our professional instincts is quite the endeavor. The fact that they did it so effectively and at such a pivotal time for our profession … my gratitude cannot be overstated,” she said. “Every single person that I met and networked with within Boot Camp was so genuine and engaging with me, and I did my best to do the same! I’m so glad I seized this opportunity to be able to (learn to) focus, strategize, and implement our collective goals alongside my multidimensional peers.”

See a photos from the event.

My NCRA Boot Camp experience

By Dineen Squillante

Sen. Patrick Leahy and Dineen Squillante

I signed up for Boot Camp, because I come from a state with no association. Having limited resources and many concerns about the future of our profession, I wanted to learn how to advocate effectively and appropriately for stenography.   NCRA Interim CEO Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC, and NCRA Director of Government Relations Jocelynn Moore took us through the dos and don’ts of getting our legislatures behind us, and NCRA board members took our teams through perfecting our mission through role playing.  

Our team bonded quickly and strategized together. The task that seemed impossible and intimidating became fun and attainable. We all pulled from our unique strengths and conquered our mission, each contributing in our own way. Each member of our team grew more confident as the mock day progressed. At the end of the day we were all exhausted. At the same time, we were much more comfortable in the shoes we were about to wear.

When we got to Hill Day, sadly our team had to disperse and stand on our own. But every single member of our team was ready and had an over-the-top successful day. In fact, every member from every other team I spoke with had a hugely successful and exciting day. We grabbed the ear of our representatives and senators across the United States in full force! I feel like everyone who attended and/or had a part in pulling Boot Camp together lifted all of us to a higher level of confidence in advocacy. We all had exciting stories to tell about our meetings on the Hill, and, actually, how easy it was to advocate for what we believe in. 

I had the honor to meet with the following Vermont representatives: Sen. Patrick Leahy and his legislative correspondent, Jeff VanOot; Rep. Peter Welch’s legislative aide, Alexandra Morris; and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ floor coordinator, Ihna Mangundayao. All of these folks are extremely busy and graciously took time out to hear our message.

Every one of us has taken home new friends, allies, and important contacts from across the nation. Now, more than ever, we need to be confident in pushing to make sure humans stay in the chair. 

Thank you to the NCRA board, Dave, and Jocelynn for all the hard work you’ve put in to making us stronger advocates! Together we are mighty!

Shout out to my fellow Team Hotel members! Kimberly Cottrell, Quincy, Ill.; Kimberly Duran, RPR, Albuquerque, N.M.; Pam Fuller-Goold, RPR, Blanchard, Okla.; Janice McMoran, RDR, CRR, Granbury, Texas; Debbie Peterson, RPR, Prior Lake, Minn.; Kelly Shainline, RPR, CRR, Walnut Creek, Calif.

#stenoarmy

Dineen Squillante, RPR, is from Arlington, Vt.

Students and new professionals, don’t miss the chance to apply for these scholarships and grants

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) is accepting nominations for the Robert H. Clark and Frank Sarli Memorial scholarships for students, as well as applications for the New Professional Reporter Grant. The June 1 deadline to apply for each of these awards is approaching fast. Now is the time to make sure you have all your paperwork in order.

The Robert H. Clark and Frank Sarli Memorial scholarships are awarded to high-achieving students nearing the end of their court reporting program who meet a number of criteria, including being a current student member in NCRA, passing at least one Q&A test at a minimum of 200 wpm, and achieving a GPA of at least 3.5 based on a 4.0 standard.

“This has given me an extra boost of motivation and confidence I needed while I head into my final semester,” said Megan Baeten upon receiving the Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship in 2018. “It will help me with the cost of schooling for this last semester without the added stress of how I will pay for it. It will also help me with some of the start-up expenses upon graduating, as well as the certification fees.”

The New Professional Reporter Grant is given to a promising working reporter in his or her first year out of school who meets a number of criteria. These include maintaining a current NCRA membership, graduating with a GPA of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 standard, and submitting a recommendation from the person’s current employer.

Beginning this year, all NCRF scholarships are open to NCRA student members enrolled in any court reporting program, not just NCRA approved programs. In addition, the New Professional Reporter Grant is now open to qualifying graduates of any court reporting program.

More scholarships and other NCRF programs can be found by visiting NCRA.org/NCRF.

Bringing captions to Coachella

Stan Sakai and Isaiah Roberts

By Heidi Renner

When Isaiah Roberts, RPR, Magnolia, Ill., thought he wrote the word lemon while captioning Ariana Grande’s performance at Coachella, he was a little concerned. Did she really say lemon? It turns out he was captioning the moment when someone in the crowd threw a lemon and hit Grande, which became a well-known moment at the music festival.

“I remembered writing lemon during Ariana’s performance and definitely thinking I misheard something,” he posted on Facebook. “Then my cab driver in LA today asked if I saw her get hit by the lemon, and instantly I felt a relief knowing why I did, in fact, write lemon followed by a bunch of expletives.”

Roberts and Stan Sakai, CRC, New York, N.Y., had the unique experience of captioning Coachella, an annual music festival in Indio, Calif. It is one of the biggest music festivals in the world. Then the next weekend they captioned Stagecoach, another music festival held in the same location. Roberts posted a video from Coachella that has been widely shared.

Roberts had looked at the ADA section of Coachella’s website and noticed it told people to reach out if they needed ASL or closed captioning. He sent an email asking if they offered captioning and who provided it? Coachella responded on a Monday saying they wanted to have a meeting to talk about it on Friday. Roberts called his friend Sakai, and they prepared for the meeting. Sakai had already built a website that allowed captioning to be accessed through an app. Sakai worked on making changes to his program to make it work with Coachella. Roberts said the two worked late into the night every night that week. They gave a demonstration Friday to the Coachella representatives over a video call.

“They were blown away,” Roberts said. The representatives recorded what they were seeing on the screen and then showed it to the festival directors. “We were on cloud nine,” Roberts said.

Sakai described it this way on Facebook: “After hundreds of hours of work, the Coachella and Stagecoach captioning systems are online and (nearly) ready to go! A five-server monstrosity spread across New York and California able to serve at peak 29,000 connections per minute, averaging 2,000 connections served per minute at saturation. This will be woven into their existing web and mobile platforms available to their 130,000 attendees, who will all be able to access the live captioning of mainstage performances right from their phones. As a team, Isaiah and I will be tag-teaming, between feeding out pre-scripted lyrics and live stenoing, handing off the baton depending on what’s thrown at us. And when people ask if technology will replace us, my answer to that is: no, we harness technology to keep us going!”

Because the captions were available through the festival app, they were available to everyone. All audience members were required to download the app to activate their wrist bands.

Isaiah Roberts

Roberts saw it as an opportunity to spread the word about court reporting and captioning.

“This is the thing I’m most excited about,” he said. “In trying to grow the profession, I speak to students, but does it really make the profession look appealing? Being at the major music festival really meant something.”

Rachel Meireis from Placentia, Calif., appreciated the captions. She had requested captioning at Stagecoach.

“I am late deafened,” Meireis said. “I lost my hearing in my 20s and wear bilateral cochlear implants to help me hear. But it can be iffy and makes it quite hard to know what’s going on at times. That situation gets complicated because I can sign but I am not fluent in ASL at all. Having access at the concert was amazing. I could keep up with what the performer said between songs and understand lyrics I have been hearing wrong on the radio. Having the captions stream to my phone was great too. It made me able to leave the ADA riser freely and move about the concert but still follow along. Stanley and Isaiah were so helpful and friendly though the whole process. I am very grateful they were able to make this work.”

Roberts said he had wondered who would be benefiting, and he was happy to meet Meireis. During Coachella there were 500 unique visitors viewing the captions. At Stagecoach, there were 400 on the first day. By the end of the weekend they had reached about 1,000 people.

“Hands down the best part was meeting Rachel and getting to meet a consumer of [the captioning],” Roberts said.

For the actual captioning, Roberts and Sakai would usually get a set list so they would look up lyrics ahead of time when possible. They had headphones directly hooked to the singer’s microphone. Sometimes the performer would start talking about other performers or the other people on stage with them, so Roberts and Sakai tried to prepare ahead of time for those things as much as they could. They worked together, captioning on both of their machines at the same time. Sometimes one person would write and the other would look up lyrics.

“It was as cool as I wanted it to be,” Roberts said. “I don’t know what could have gone better.”

Roberts urges other court reporters and captioners to make more of these opportunities happen. Coachella didn’t offer captioning until Roberts reached out to them.

“My takeaway is whatever event you are into, realize that under the ADA they need to offer this service,” Roberts said. “Advocate for yourself.”

Sakai and Roberts are hoping this is a beginning, and there will be more music festival work for them.

Sakai summarized the experience on Facebook: “COACHELLA RECAP: Between shoddy internet connections, knocked-over equipment from dudes getting tackled backstage, my laptop getting nailed by a flying rogue water bottle, or minor software issues, providing live captioning at Coachella was a resounding SUCCESS. Isaiah and I powered through and got the app online on all the monitors at the ADA platforms and on the official Coachella mobile app, captioned Spanish-language performers, and even spared a few moments to visit our friends. I’m still gobsmacked and star-struck by the weekend but can’t help to think that this is the beginning of something huge. We all worked hard but we’re both forever grateful for having had the opportunity to pioneer live-event captioning on this scale. A HUGE thank you to Isaiah for making this all possible, and as I’ve said before, I remain humbled and excited for what’s to come.”