Message from Max Curry about the 2020 NCRA Conference & Expo

We hope you are well during this difficult period our world is facing.  

We know that many of you attend the NCRA Annual Conference & Expo to obtain your continuing education credits, meet with your peers, and visit with our vendor partners to see what is new in today’s market. As of today, NCRA is still planning to host its regularly scheduled Conference & Expo, August 6 – 9, in Orlando, Fla., but we are also investigating options to provide virtual experiences as well, if need be, so the event proves to be invaluable to all stakeholders. 

As the current COVID-19 situation continues, we will continue to monitor the recommendations and advice of health and security experts on any anticipated measures that could impact our 2020 Conference. We are also in constant contact with representatives from the host hotel to keep abreast of what measures are being taken to ensure the safety of guests.   

When the time is right, we will launch registration to further enable you to make your plans and have greater certainty about how NCRA is proceeding with this year’s premier event. We understand the need for flexibility, and this said, our offerings may look different than previous yearsbut they will still provide valuable content.  

Please know we are committed to helping you reach your personal and business objectives and are working hard to structure opportunities to maximize the return on your precious resources. 

If you have specific questions about NCRA’s 2020 Conference & Expo, please do not hesitate to contact meetings@ncra.org, and we’ll do our best to provide the information you need.  

In the meantime, be safe and thank you for your past partnership and for being a part of court reporting, captioning, and legal video community. Continue to stay positive in mind and spirit. 

Take care,

Max Curry, RPR, CRI

NCRA President

Register now for the April NCRA Town Hall

Don’t miss out on the next virtual NCRA Town Hall, scheduled for Saturday, April 18, at 10 a.m. (Eastern). NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, will be joined by Director Cindy Isaacsen, RPR, an official court reporter from Shawnee, Kan. Conversation will include NCRA’s May Celebrate Certification Month, the upcoming Stenopalooza event, and latest on the impact of the coronavirus on businesses.

“My membership in NCRA is a priority for me because it shows my commitment to supporting my profession, it gives me access to so many educational and certification opportunities, and it reassures me that I’ve got an advocate in Washington, D.C., who has my back,” said Kimberly Falgiani, RDR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Warren, Ohio. “But especially in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, the president’s Town Halls have given me added reassurance that my membership means I am receiving the most up-to-date information and resources that can benefit me and other members directly. For that, I am extremely appreciative and proud to be an NCRA member.”

The NCRA virtual Town Hall meetings also offer members the opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A feature. Members can also catch up on previous Town Halls by clicking here. Only NCRA Members may attend the Town Halls. Why wait? Register now!

Register now for the April NCRA Town Hall

Don’t miss out on the next virtual NCRA Town Hall, scheduled for Saturday, April 18, at 10 a.m. (Eastern). NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, will be joined by Director Cindy Isaacsen, RPR, an official court reporter from Shawnee, Kan. Conversation will include NCRA’s May Celebrate Certification Month, the upcoming Stenopalooza event, and latest on the impact of the coronavirus on businesses.

The NCRA virtual Town Hall meetings also offer members the opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A feature. Members can also catch up on previous Town Halls by clicking here. Only NCRA Members may attend the Town Halls. Why wait? Register now!

The latest from NCRA

Court Reporters, Captioners, Videographers, Scopists, Proofreaders, Associate members, and other professionals who support our industry:
I wanted to update everyone as to where we stand and what is in the works from the NCRA Board of Directors and leadership and staff for all things court reporting and captioning related.
1)     On Monday, March 16, NCRA hosted a videoconference seminar with affiliate state and regional association leadership and convention planners. As many of you know, most state and regional associations hold their conventions from late winter into early summer, and the COVID-19 crisis is negatively impacting those planned events, with most canceling or rescheduling to later dates. It has the potential to seriously impact our affiliate members financially, and NCRA, via this seminar and other assistance, is doing everything we can to negate the damage and fallout for our affiliates. We want our affiliate associations to be empowered with the appropriate information they need to weather this situation.
2)     The response to the live webinar led by NCRA Director Keith Lemons, FAPR, RPR, CRR, and Immediate Past President Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, and NCRA Vice President Debra Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, addressing the nuts and bolts of getting started offering your services remotely via Zoom or other video/teleconference capabilities was so overwhelming that we added two additional sessions to accommodate everyone who signed up. Our Zoom capacity maxed out for all three offerings at 1,500 participants (500 per session) and have stretched the resources of our esteemed colleagues to be able to give the seminars live over and over again. I am thankful for what they have volunteered to do. They truly are consummate professionals, and we are fortunate to have them as part of our professional family!
3)     The aforementioned seminar was video recorded, and it will be offered after April 1 for those individuals who were unable to sign up for or attend the live offering. There is a small administrative fee of $10 for members and $30 for nonmembers. It will become part of the NCRA bank of eseminars that we have available for viewing.
4)     The NCRA Board of Directors is working on seminars that will offer more advanced training on videoconferencing and teleconferencing work. One will focus specifically on high-end issues and capabilities with videoconference remote feed for captioning, and the other will focus on the same things for judicial reporting. We are planning to offer both presentations in about two weeks.
5)     The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, currently being debated in the U.S. House and Senate, includes a section that addresses independent contractors/self-employed individuals. NCRA Government Relations is monitoring the situation, and as we have more information regarding the act in its final form and as it becomes law, we will update you as to the impact it will have on our industry and on you as individuals.  We will address this more during NCRA Town Hall on Saturday, March 21. Register using this link
6)     Since NCRA has canceled the NCRA Leadership & Legislative Boot Camp due to the continuing crisis, we are working on a one-day videoconference live stream webinar. We are approaching it as encompassing leadership development, as well as knowledge/skill development for reporters and captioners — a Stenopalooza of sorts!
7)     We are holding off on making any decisions about the 2020 NCRA Conference & Expo in August until late May/early June. I assure you, we will err on the side of caution, but we do not want to react too quickly. We have time to readjust and make decisions as we get closer.
I promise and assure you, the NCRA Board of Directors, staff, and volunteer leadership members are working hard and doing our very best in managing these issues. Many of the NCRA Board and volunteers are, in addition, managing their own personal businesses in reporting and captioning, as all NCRA board members are still working professionals; and NCRA staff is doing a tremendous job managing the day-to-day issues on top of the fantastic job they already do on a daily basis while working remotely.
We are going to get through this together. I would encourage everyone to remember, it costs nothing extra to offer kindness, compassion, and understanding to one another. Be safe, be smart, be informed, and make fact-based decisions grounded in reasoning and knowledge.
On behalf of the NCRA Board and staff, I send our best wishes to all of you and your families!

Max Curry, RPR, CRI

NCRA President

NCRA webinar free for Members: Doing business in today’s environment

The NCRA Board of Directors, staff, and I — like many of you — are troubled by the events of the last two weeks with the changing environment caused by the coronavirus. I assure you that we as NCRA leadership and staff are diligently and actively working our way through the issues as they affect our industry, and we will communicate with membership as solutions are put in place.
The most important thing is to stay calm; listen to the information that has been shared by the CDC, WHO, and other health organizations.  

NCRA Board and staff have already made a number of decisions to aid members:

UPDATE: THE WEBINAR IS FULL!

1)     NCRA Director Keith Lemons, FAPR, RPR, CRR, and Immediate Past President Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, will be hosting a webinar on using Zoom and other online videoconference/teleconference platforms, on Thursday, March 19, at 7 p.m. (Eastern). These two tech-savvy members will share how reporters and captioners can use videoconferencing tools to assist clients, courts, and consumers in conducting depositions, hearings, and other court proceedings, as well as provide captioning or realtime via streaming technology through the Internet or through platforms such as Zoom. Many of us already know how to utilize these platforms and have been doing so for years. For those of you who haven’t, we will help you get there together! The March 19 seminar regarding use of video conference platforms will be one hour in length and earn participants 0.1 CEU at no cost to NCRA members. NCRA member value is hard at work by providing empowering solutions. Non-members can pay a minimal fee of $30 for the webinar.

2)     The NCRA Board and staff plans additional in-depth webinars regarding online video conference platforms in the next few weeks. These webinars will deal with the more complicated issues of videoconferencing, such as exhibit scanning and document sharing, streaming of realtime over the Internet via video conference feed, etc. 

3)     On Saturday, March 21, at 10 a.m. (Eastern), please join me for the NCRA Town Hall. We will be addressing how reporters, captioners, videographers, and associate members can empower and sustain themselves and their families through this pandemic, which we must face with the rest of the world. Register here.

We are going to get through this together and be stronger for having weathered the storm. Stay safe and adhere to the medical advice offered by experts. My prayers and best wishes, as well as those of the NCRA Board and staff, are with each of you in the days and weeks to come.

Max Curry, RPR, CRI
NCRA President

Register now for the March NCRA Town Hall

Don’t miss out on the next virtual NCRA Town Hall, scheduled for Saturday, March 21, at 10 a.m. (Eastern). NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, will be joined by Director Cindy Isaacsen, RPR, a freelance court reporter from Shawnee, Kan., and NCRA Executive Director Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC. Conversation will include the impact of the coronavirus on businesses, as well as the importance of advocacy and NCRA’s upcoming Leadership & Legislative Boot Camp, which is set for May 17-19 in Alexandria, Va.

The NCRA virtual Town Hall meetings also offer members the opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A feature. Questions can also be submitted in advance to lbutler@ncra.org.

 Members can also catch up on previous Town Halls by clicking here. Only NCRA Members may attend the Town Halls.  Why wait? Register now!

Register now for the next NCRA Town Hall

Don’t miss out on the next virtual NCRA Town Hall, scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 11, at 10 a.m. (Eastern). NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, will be joined by President-Elect Christine Phipps, RPR. Members will hear the latest on the NCRA Business Summit to be held Feb. 9-11 at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa, Austin, Texas; the NCRA A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program; the upcoming Court Reporting & Captioning Week; and more.

The NCRA virtual Town Hall meetings also offer members the opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A feature. Questions can also be submitted in advance to lbutler@ncra.org.

Registration for the Jan. 11 Town Hall closes at midnight Jan. 10, so please register now. Members can also catch up on previous Town Halls by clicking here. Only NCRA Members may attend the Town Halls.

NCRA President addresses the membership on change

By Max Curry

Change is difficult, but some of our greatest opportunities come from change.

A big change in my life occurred the day I left home for Ole Miss, beginning my journey to become a court reporter. It took me three hours to leave because my mother would not stop crying. She told me how proud she was, that she was looking forward to seeing me graduate from college, that her baby was leaving home, and then she would hug me and start crying all over again. It was a vicious cycle.

After two and one-half hours, we made it to my car. After another 30 minutes of advice, love, hugs, and tears, my daddy grabbed my mother in a bear hug and said: “Son, just get in the car and go or you’re never going to make it to college.”

Once in the car, I looked back. While still holding my mother, my dad raised his arm, waved, and said, “Your mother and I love you, and I am so very proud of you, son.” It was one of the few times I saw tears in my daddy’s eyes.

I will admit I was a typical 17-year-old: I knew everything, and my parents knew nothing. I thought: “Thank God I’m getting away from these two dumb people and can finally live my own life!” It took me five years to realize they were the two smartest, most brilliant people I may ever know.

My parents greatly influenced the trajectory of my life. From them I learned to work smart but work hard, to strive for excellence, to serve others, and to pay it forward. When we give back, we leave our world better than we found it. We must care about the collective good as well! The most important values they instilled in me were a sense of community and service to others!

As I left for college, my life was changing; but my parents’ lives were changing too. I was the last to leave home. Suddenly they had to figure out how to do something they hadn’t done since she was 18 and he was 20 — live their lives together without kids and be Roy and Ruth again. My parents fell in love all over again.

Life is full of change, and change can be good.

But today we must consider the court reporting and captioning industries and what change means for our future. In the past three to four years, our industry has seen great change — particularly in the last year. Change that happens that fast can be scary and seem out of control — but it only seems that way, mainly because as a species we are hardwired to resist change, even to struggle against it.

Our industry is over 100 years young. We have survived and thrived because of that word: Change. As change happened, we have not run from it; we have embraced it and evolved. Our theories evolved from short vowels only to long and short vowels, making our writing more efficient with CAT systems. Then came realtime, and we could provide instantaneous feedback for clients. The first realtime systems were IT labor intensive. We now offer realtime output to iPads and other smart devices, removing the difficult IT process for us and for our consumers. Many reporters and captioners fear some of the changes in our industry, whether it is other methods of reporting or the business approaches of companies and how they integrate other methodologies. And, then, outside influences affect the industries.

While I recognize the dangers and challenges, every day I make the conscious decision to face them head on, to embrace the light, to have a positive outlook, and to work toward constructive solutions that yield results for our industry! I encourage you to do so as well, for darkness is an absence of light, but the truest darkness is the belief that the light will never return. Our light still shines brightly.

My commitment to you as NCRA President is to work tirelessly, to make my presidency count, to work with this Board and other industry leaders to find solutions to the great challenges we face! Some of the smartest people I know are on this Board or are involved in our industry through NCRA staff or other industry leaders affiliated with NCRA. We will find the solutions working together!

Some of these solutions are already in the queue: NCRA 2.0’s commitment to looking at all our processes to ensure we function intelligently and efficiently; the NCRA A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program addresses our student shortage, and my goal to work with reporter volunteers and state association leaders to implement the program in all 50 states this year, putting us on a clear path to eliminating our reporter shortage in the next several years; as a second step, to engage a marketing firm, much as the nurses did in the 1980s, to update the public image of stenographers and help the public to fully understand what we do and the opportunities in a reporting or captioning career; and our commitment to transparency by opening all the doors and windows of NCRA, offering our Board meetings for members viewing via Zoom. And we are going to do so much more!

I want to thank StenoCAT for their collaboration with my predecessor, Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, and NCRA by redeveloping their steno app for the iPad. This allow us to economically have steno writer keyboards available so we can roll out our NCRA A to Z program without a shortage of machines being a hindrance. I also want to recognize the teams at Stenograph and ProCAT for providing student writers for the program as well. We are having remarkable success with the online program already thanks to these folks! Thank you, StenoCAT, Stenograph, and ProCAT — and your amazing support staffs! With our volunteers and our vendors working together, we are going to cure our shortage and profession image issues in short order.

Many people fear automatic speech recognition (ASR) and its key component, which is artificial intelligence (AI). It threatens our captioning siblings more than judicial reporting, but the threat is real to both components of our industry. However, while ASR is making advancements with technology, the reality is, so are we.

The technology we rely on has evolved over the years, and it continues to do so today. In the not-so-distant future (perhaps three to five years from now) our CAT systems will include advanced AI chips. Imagine with me for a moment. As a professional stenographer, you show up for court with your writer and laptop and write the proceedings, and advanced AI software in your CAT system will follow behind you. When you hit the period or question mark, AI goes to work. It compares the audio to the words you wrote. When it completes the review and verifies every word is as you wrote it or has made changes where it deems appropriate as verified to the audio, it will then go back and apply both hard-set English rules to the sentence and the more fluid and flexible court reporting English rules. By the time you have completed the next sentence, AI is ready to move on to that sentence and go to work.

At the conclusion of the session, perhaps all day in court with 300 pages, AI will have flagged maybe 30 or 40 things you need to verify. Within 10 to 15 minutes of the end of court, you could complete the transcript and be ready to send it out electronically.

Similarly, a captioner could soon use such advanced AI CAT software tools to provide near perfect captioning.

Imagine: In five years, we could see a world of highly efficient and accurate stenographic writing aided by AI tools providing near instantaneous, highly accurate products to our consumers and clients.

Now, with this system, how would stenographic reporters and captioners possibly be leveraged out of this industry by technology? I would argue the reverse is true: Advanced technology married with the high skillset of a professional stenographic reporter or captioner will make us even more essential in judicial reporting and captioning arenas, practically making ourselves an irreplaceable component.

While many people fear AI, I remind you it is a tool, no different than a hammer or a screwdriver … or a stenographic machine. It benefits and grows our industry, creating for us a brilliant future. Some may argue this is a pipe dream. But great change starts with great imagination and lofty goals. What I described is a technological change, the same change that got us where we are today!

Make no mistake: we are under attack and are being threatened from all directions. This organization, NCRA, is the only national organization ready to promote and protect the stenographic means of making a record or captioning, period. Is this organization perfect? No, it is not; it is made up of people, and as people, we are all flawed. But the NCRA 2.0 Board has worked effectively together this past eight months, will continue to do so this year, and will work to ensure this organization functions in a financially sensible and efficient manner, setting us up for nothing but success. I understand why some reporting and captioning members have left NCRA over the years and why other court reporters and captioners have declined joining. However, I state again, this Board is dedicated to making the necessary changes to bring this organization back to a pinnacle of stature, but we cannot do it without you. As the leader of our industry this next year, I ask every stenographic reporter and captioner to come home to NCRA and stand with us. You are needed! The best way to confront these threats is to stand together, unified in a common message and a common goal: Promoting and protecting the stenographic means of reporting and captioning as the gold standard! This is our mission!

It is never too early to join your state or national professional association. I encourage our students to become student members, to be engaged, to get involved in your future career now! Reporting and captioning are evolving and changing, leading to remarkable opportunities. I am committed to court reporting and captioning’s future. I believe our future is nothing but bright, and the better days lie ahead! I am excited and honored to be your President and to be part of the change that is NCRA 2.0, and I look forward to working with each of you as we make this journey together!

Max Curry, RPR, CRI, is NCRA’s President. He can be reached at president@ncra.org. This is an abridged version of NCRA’s 2019-2020 President’s speech as given at the NCRA 2019 Convention & Expo.

A message from NCRA’s President

Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC

I wanted to take an opportunity, as I conclude my year of service to you, our members, to thank you sincerely for the honor you’ve given me this year to serve as your NCRA President. 

The year has brought about adjustments in both our Board and headquarters operations, and you’ve been very supportive to our organization throughout the many changes. We’ve seen challenges emerging, but together, we’re making a difference in promoting and protecting the interests of stenographers nationwide.

To recap some of the year’s highlights, the NCRA STRONG Task Force has been sharing PowerPoints and other information and tools with our state leaders to help them promote increased awareness to the public of the important role stenographers play in both the court reporting and captioning professions.

The NCRA A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program has continued to expand, and we saw the introduction of the program into a high school in Texas, as well as the development of an online program for those with time and proximity constraints. A huge thanks is in order to all those who have volunteered to be a part of both the online and brick-and-mortar programs. It’s been a fun and engaging way to get the word out about our great profession. This effort has been helped by the generous assistance with machines by ProCAT and Stenograph, and by you, the members.

The NCRA A to Z program has also been aided by the introduction of the iStenoPad app by StenoCAT, which allows those who may not have access to a steno machine to participate in the program. If you’re considering hosting an NCRA A to Z program but don’t have access to machines, you can use the iStenoPad app as an alternative. Once you have downloaded and registered the iStenoPad app, a brief video will introduce you to the features that can be turned on or off.

During the ensuing year, NCRA intends to use our infrastructure to our advantage with the NCRA A to Z program, and that infrastructure is using our state affiliate associations around the country as boots on the ground to get this thing rolling successfully, full steam ahead. The NCRA A to Z Committee will be working directly with our National Committee of State Associations (NCSA) delegates, state by state, to help coordinate the rollout and implementation of the NCRA A to Z programs nationwide, along with direct guidance and assistance from NCRA’s leadership on the Board. 
If you’d like to donate to the NCRA A to Z program, please remember that there is only one way to do so, and that is through your donations to the National Court Reporters Foundation. You may request that your donation be earmarked for the A to Z program. There are other organizations with different introductory programs, but NCRA has only one program, and that is the A to Z. Donate here.

In addition to the NCRA A to Z and STRONG Task Forces, several new committees and task forces are being formed that will strengthen the positions of our videographers and scopists. This next year, we’ll have a committee focused on our social media strategies, and they will play a key role in disseminating positive information regarding our profession and will be actively involved in monitoring our social media accounts. Stay tuned for more details soon. 

Also, our NCSA governing board is being revamped to increase communication and participation of our state leaders, both with one another and with the Board. We feel that our state leaders are the integral ground force to identify and combat issues at the state level.
In closing, the nation’s largest gathering of the stenographic community is just around the corner, and it holds the promise of talented speakers, engaging content, and many opportunities to network with colleagues and meet and interact with our stellar NCRA staff. If you want to be among the first to receive the materials that the NCRA STRONG Task Force has been assembling and have access to some very cool products that will promote steno to your clients, make plans now to be at the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo in Denver August 15-18, 2019. Come and share your passion for our profession and renew your commitment to its future. While you’re there, please stop by our NCRA Board of Directors tables during the Opening Reception so that we may thank you in person for your choice to be a member of NCRA. 

In the spirit of NCRA 2.0, we will be streaming the live text of the NCRA Business Meeting, and members will be sent a link to observe the meeting if they cannot make it in person.

I’m looking forward to celebrating with Max Curry, RPR, CRI, our incoming NCRA President, and all of you as he and our amazing NCRA Board of Directors embark upon all the work necessary to accomplish great things. He has been an excellent President-Elect and always by my side, and I know he will serve us well.

My life has been blessed by the opportunity to represent you this year.

Signing off with all the love for a profession my heart can hold,

Sue A. Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC

President, National Court Reporters Association

A message from NCRA’s President – NCRA 2.0 Update

As President of NCRA, I wanted to give you a quick update on work happening at NCRA to make your Association even better. At the beginning of the year, the NCRA Board of Directors and our Interim Executive Director, Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC, collaborated to create a game plan to rejuvenate NCRA and a more streamlined and effective organization. Creating NCRA 2.0 is underway, and that means staff and the Board are doing deep dives into every program and line item to see if it matches the Strategic Plan, our Business Plan, and the needs of our members.

We have heard from many members stating that they love the direction NCRA is going and the communication coming from NCRA. In five short months, we have gained tremendous momentum through creating the NCRA STRONG Task Force, celebrating Court Reporting and Captioning Week, restructuring vendor contracts, increasing the accessibility of the Board to members, working on reducing the physical footprint of NCRA headquarters to save serious member dollars, and orchestrating the largest NCRA Legislative Boot Camp in recent history.

About two weeks ago, I had the privilege to participate in NCRA’s Legislative Boot Camp with more than 75 court reporters and captioners who spent three days transforming themselves into legislative warriors for the profession. These volunteer members came to D.C. to learn from the best, our own Government Relations team and Board. These reporters and captioners went to Capitol Hill following two days of training and did an amazing job of talking to their members of Congress about the importance of what you do every day, and they are bringing those tools and that energy back to their individual states to advocate for you. Many of the attendees will tell you that Boot Camp was the hardest training they have ever had but also the most rewarding. 

Just recently, the NCRA Board voted to change our official tagline to represent who we are. The new tagline is: “NCRA:The Association for Court Reporters and Captioners.” This may seem like a small item to change, but it helps brand the organization in a way that the outside public can understand who we are and acknowledges the captioners among our colleagues.

We are continuing to move forward. The hard-working volunteers of the NCRA Board want you to know that we are listening to you and trying to incorporate your great ideas into NCRA 2.0. We even created a special place on the website so that you can give us your direct feedback.  In case you missed it, here is the link to the web page that requests your feedback. We need your ideas, thoughts, and assistance on committees.  Please consider helping us and serving on a committee you are passionate about.  We are in the process of forming committees now for the ensuing association year.

NCRA 2.0 is well underway, and we will continue to update you on progress.  We understand that this can be a process and that we are not going to make everyone happy 100 percent of the time, but we are working to make this organization one that you can feel pride in calling your professional home.  I am unabashedly proud of what we have accomplished in a few short months, and as the saying goes, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Thank you for your time and your input. Together we are NCRA STRONG!

Sue A. Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC

President, National Court Reporters Association