Angel Donor Profile: Marjorie Peters

Marjorie Peters

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) supports the advancement of the court reporting and captioning professions through education, scholarship, recognition, and programs critical to preserving the past, enriching the present, and securing the future of the profession. NCRF is able to do the great work it does with donations from individuals and organizations through various donor programs, including the popular Angels program.

Each month, NCRA will highlight one of the more than 100 Angels who support the National Court Reporters Foundation year after year. This month, the column kicks off with a profile of Marjorie Peters, RMR, CRR, who also holds NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator certificate.

JCR | Let’s begin with learning where you are based and what you do.

MP | Based in Pittsburgh, Pa., covering Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland. I am a freelance reporter and small firm owner covering complex realtime and all types of litigation, large and small.

JCR | How long have you been an Angel?

MP | Since the Angel program started, nearly 15 years ago!

JCR | Clearly being an Angel is important to you. Why?

MP | I did not attend college, but having a skilled trade that has become a career has offered me the opportunity to achieve goals and work in places with people I never would have imagined. It has given me freedom of choice and flexibility in my life. I want everyone to realize their own goals as well, and the Foundation programs offer those opportunities to others as well.  How can I not support that!?

JCR | Are you involved with the Foundation in other ways?

MP | I am on the Angels Gatherers Committee! Ask me about being an Angel! It’s not as hard as you think. After I was an Angel for the first couple of years, I realized it was a commitment that I would always make to myself and others because NCRF’s programs really do help others. Foundation programs empower!

JCR | What is your favorite NCRF program?   

MP | Well, the easy answer is the Oral Histories Project. It is a labor of love and the best day you will ever have. The Foundation programs support education through scholarships, support reporting firms by offering legal education resources, and of course the Corrine Clark Professionalism Institute supports fledgling reporters and firms. The Foundation lifts students, reporters, and firms to success personally and professionally.  

Learn more about the NCRF Angel Donors program, or become an Angel.

New NCRA member Darcy Thornburg wins Echo Dot

Darcy Thornburg is the winner of the February NCRA membership promotion. She was chosen from a random drawing of new members who joined in February and won an Echo Dot. She is a scopist from Graniteville, S.C., and owns Thornburg Proofreading, LLC.

JCR | Why did you choose this career?

Darcy Thornburg

DT | I became a scopist because I was interested in all aspects of what happens to a transcript after the reporter has taken down the steno. I had never even heard of scopists until after I was working as a proofreader for a few months, but I knew as soon as I did hear of them that I wanted to become one.

JCR | What interested you about it?

As someone with a degree in linguistics (specifically having learned phonetics/phonology), I liked learning to read steno, even though I am not sure I could type on a steno machine. I’ve been ten-finger QWERTY typing for so long that I feel it’s one of those habits that will be too difficult to bend for a new type of keyboard.

JCR | Why do you think being a member is useful for scopists?

We have access to not only the directory of reporters, but also the same resources those reporters need in order to do their jobs well. This access for scopists helps us to make certain we are providing what our clients need, as well as what they want.

JCR | Has anything not been what you expected?

I did not have any expectations going in, but I can certainly say that winning an Echo Dot was unexpected.

JCR | Any fun things happened as an NCRA member?

I won a cool smart speaker device thing.

JCR | What advice do you have for future court reporters and scopists?

Talk to people who aren’t native speakers of English or who speak different English dialects. Listen to the words they say, and ask them what they mean if you aren’t certain. This practice will help you to take down as many different dialects and/or accents as possible accurately.

Attorney explains how court reporters make a difference

Joe Fulton

In a tweet during 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, attorney Joe Fulton, a partner with Martineau King, PLLC, in Charlotte, N.C., showed some appreciation for court reporters. JCR Weekly reached out to him for more details.

JCR | What prompted you to tweet during Court Reporting & Captioning Week?

JF | I was really glad to see that the NCRA had gotten folks rallied around the idea of bringing attention to the important work done by court reporters. It is not a career choice that many people think about, but they should. I am a civil litigator, and my wife is a prosecutor. In my wife’s job, they have at times actually been unable to keep a sufficient number of courtrooms running for the simple fact that not enough court reporters were available. In my job, I’ve been very lucky to work with a lot of great court reporters who are always punctual and who I can rely on to get the job done. There are lots of things about my job that are complex, but reliable court reporters make one of the most important parts, preserving the record at something like a deposition, easy.

JCR | What has been your experience working with court reporters?

JF | I have worked with court reporters in depositions and court proceedings. One of the most enjoyable things about being an attorney is getting to work with a lot of different people. Whenever I show up to a deposition and see a court reporter that I know, I enjoy reminiscing about old cases we were both involved in and it always puts me at ease.

JCR | What do you think they add to the judicial process?

JF | Court reporters are an essential part of the American system of justice. Whether in a deposition or at a trial, the creating of a permanent and accurate record is essential to protecting the rights of all of the parties. There is no better way to do this than with an actual, live, in-person court reporter. If you have never had to rely on an audio recording to review a record, it might be difficult to believe that the record created by a court reporter would be much better. After all, the court reporter is “just writing down what people say.” I have had personal experience in proceedings where only an audio recording was used. I can say without a doubt that a transcript created by a court reporter who was actually there is vastly superior to any audio recording.

Letter from the President: Moving forward in 2019

By Sue Terry

It’s a great new day at NCRA! I want to communicate with you some recent changes in the leadership of your organization.

As previously announced via social media and email to you, our members, I’m pleased to announce the return of Dave Wenhold, CAE, as NCRA’s Interim CEO & Executive Director and lobbyist. Jeffrey Altman of Whiteford, Taylor & Preston has also returned to serve as NCRA general counsel. Both bring forward-looking vision and vast institutional knowledge, as well as a historical background of the culture of our Association that can serve us all as we bring our membership into the future.

I’m also pleased to announce the four new Board members who stepped up at a moment’s notice to fill the recently vacated Board positions: Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, of Fort Collins, Colo.; Sarah Nageotte, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, of Jefferson, Ohio; Brooke Ryan, RPR, of Sacramento, Calif.; and Heidi Thomas, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, of Acworth, Ga. They represent teamwork and diversity of opinion with unwavering respect for the principle that they are endlessly committed to the mission of NCRA and protection of our profession.

NCRA is grateful for your continued loyalty and support and understands that membership is a choice we all make. I’ve been honored to be able to represent your interests and will always have you, the member, in mind when decisions are made that affect your future and the health of the profession. All the best for 2019!








Former NCRA member passes away

The Sumter Item reported on Jan. 3 that past NCRA member Virginia Gregory Roland, 67, of West Columbia, S.C., passed away peacefully on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018. She worked as a circuit court reporter in the state of South Carolina Criminal Court for 20 years.

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NCRF announces 2018 recipients of the Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship and Student Intern Scholarship

Megan Baeten

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) has announced that Megan Baeten, a student from Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wis., was named recipient of the 2018 Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship. The Foundation also announced that Mackenzie Allen and Tanner Kockler, both students from the Des Moines Area Community College in Newton, Iowa, are the recipients of the 2018 Student Intern Scholarships. The recipients are selected by random drawing using a true random statistical tool.

Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship

“I have known of the court reporting profession since my senior year in high school and have always wanted to pursue this career. At that time, this program was not offered close to home, so I decided to pursue the administrative assistant career path instead. After working in that field for a number of years, I realized that there was little room for advancement and that it was not challenging enough for me,” said Baeten. “This [scholarship] has given me an extra boost of motivation and confidence I needed while I head into my final semester. 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 Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship is a $2,000 award, given annually to a high-achieving court reporting student. This scholarship honors the late Frank Sarli, a court reporter who was committed to supporting students through years of service on NCRA’s committees and boards that guide the education of court reporting students. Recipients are nominated by their schools and must meet specific criteria, including:

  • having a GPA of at least 3.5
  • passing at least one of the court reporting program’s Q&A tests at a minimum of 200 wpm
  • possessing all the qualities exemplified by a professional court reporter, including professional attitude, demeanor, dress, and motivation

“Megan is truly deserving of this scholarship. This will be life-changing for her. Megan juggles being a single mom, working full-time, and going to school for court reporting. Yet she always shows up for class ready to go and does quality work,” said Jackie Rupnow, who nominated Baeten. “She is working on her terminal speeds and looks to graduate in May. This will help her finish out her last semester without worrying about finances, which will allow her to concentrate on her classes and practice so she can complete this program.”

Student Intern Scholarships

Tanner Kockler

“I thank NCRF for the awesome support they give students. I plan to apply [this scholarship] toward my remaining classes and testing fees as I get ready to graduate,” said Kockler. “I had briefly heard what court reporting was, and I did not know very much about it when I started the program. The encouragement from other reporters and instructors and associations like NCRA and ICRA make it easy to want to be a part of such a wonderful profession.”

The Student Intern Scholarship is a $1,000 award, given annually to two high-achieving court reporting students who have completed the internship portion of their education. Recipients are nominated by their schools and must meet specific criteria, including:

  • having a GPA of at least 3.5
  • passing at least one of the program’s Q&A tests at a minimum of 190 wpm (if pursuing judicial reporting) or at least one literary test at a minimum of 160 wpm (if pursuing captioning)
  • possessing all the qualities exemplified by a professional court reporter, including professional attitude, demeanor, dress, and motivation

Mackenzie Allen

“My aunt was a court reporter for the state of Iowa. I job-shadowed her when I was in high school and was immediately captivated! I always knew I wanted to go into the legal field, and this career was a perfect fit for me,” said Allen. “Receiving this scholarship will help me purchase a new writer, and it will help ease the process of all of the start-up costs.”

NCRF scholarships are funded by generous donations. To learn more about NCRF’s programs, visit NCRA.org/NCRF.








Court reporter lands role as a court reporter

On Dec. 13, The Mercury posted an article about Emilie Posan, an official court reporter from Exton, Pa., who landed a role in a television series that highlights her profession.

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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.








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.

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Griffin & Associates announces name change to Griffin Group International

Griffin & Associates, Arizona’s largest court reporting firm, announced in a press release issued Nov. 1 that the firm has changed its name to Griffin Group International and has introduced a new captioning service.

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