NCRA members help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

JanaADA251

Jana Colter holds the Captioning Matters banner

On June 13, NCRA members Jana B. Colter, RMR, CRR, CBC, CCP, Louisville, Ky., and Kerry Anderson, RPR, Atlanta, Ga., participated in the ADA25 Georgia Legacy Parade celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Colter, a captioner who also serves as co-chair of NCRA’s Broadcast and CART Captioning Committee, and Anderson, a CART provider and captioner who also serves as an NCRA Director, marched in the parade and carried a banner that read “Captioning Matters.” Both say that participating in the event not only celebrated 25 years of the ADA but also placed a greater awareness on the achievements the Act has provided for those living with disabilities.

JanaADA2The march ended with a celebratory presentation in a nearby park.

Colter said she became involved in the event as a result of her captioning for Brenda Brueggemann, a faculty member at the University of Louisville. Brueggemann currently serves as program chair for the 2015 Society for Disability Studies annual conference and is the group’s incoming president. She is also scheduled to lead the session, Composing Sound—A Workshop on Creative and Critical Thinking, during the 2015 NCRA Convention & Expo being held in New York City, July 31-Aug. 2.

New developments in CART and captioning at “not to be missed” session

The Friday afternoon session “Captioning: A New World” at the 2014 NCRA Convention & Expo, held July 31 – Aug. 2 in San Francisco, discussed the rebranding of the CART and captioning industry, focusing on how the changes refocus on client services.

“Our industry has gone through broad, sweeping changes,” said Heidi Thomas, RDR, CRR, CBC, talking about CART captioning. “We’re growing, and we need to embrace that.” Thomas pointed out that while the technology is different, the skill set needed to provide captioning is the same. “This is about the folks who use our services and need our services,” Thomas added.

Christina Lewellen, the NCRA marketing, membership, and communications senior director, presented CaptioningMatters.com, an NCRA-affiliated website dedicated to CART services. NCRA has a baseline of a website and a marketing campaign, Lewellen said, and the website offers resources for CART users, like appropriate language to ensure CART services or where to find those services. Lewellen pointed out that while there is often confusion over what CART actually stands for, the bottom line is about empowering people to ask for the services they need. Lewellen invited participants to contribute to CaptioningMatters.com so that the baseline website can grow to become more effective.

Jennifer Schuck, RDR, CRR, CCP, CBC, asked the audience to text how they describe their job, and the audience was able to see which words were used most often through a projected page. This information will also be passed onto the CART and Captioning Committee to help in their work. Schuck also shared a list of FAQs that the committee has developed for CART providers to ensure that the consumer gets what he or she needs. The FAQs are available on the NCRA website.

NCRA representatives to speak at the Hearing Loss Association of America’s annual convention

NCRA’s Captioning Community of Interest Chair Carol Studenmund, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, and NCRA Assistant Director, Government Relations Adam Finkel have been selected to speak at the Hearing Loss Association of America’s Annual Convention being held from June 26 – 29 in Austin, Texas. They will be speaking on NCRA’s captioning quality best practices and NCRA’s Captioning Matters campaign. NCRA has worked with HLAA for many years through a strategic alliance in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Alliance.

NCRA gears up for second annual Court Reporting & Captioning Week, Feb. 16 – 22, 2014

44-45Court reporters, captioners, CART providers, firms, court reporting schools, and vendors nationwide are gearing up to celebrate the second annual Court Reporting & Cap­tioning Week scheduled for Feb. 16 – 22. The week-long event, sponsored by NCRA, is dedicated to recognizing efforts of its court reporter, captioner, and CART pro­vider members by increasing the public’s awareness of this centuries-old profession.

“Court reporters work hard every day to help people access the U.S. legal system, while CART providers and captioners pro­vide access to conferences, calls, education, and television broadcasts to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. It is in their honor that NCRA has declared this nationwide week to champion their ongoing efforts,” said Jim Cudahy, NCRA’s executive director and CEO.

“Last year’s event proved to be very successful in raising awareness of what our members do and the vital services they provide, as well as the many career op­portunities available in this profession. We look forward to this year’s event being even more successful,” he added.

Some of the activities that marked last year’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week included the posting to social media of themed messages and fun facts about the reporting profession, media interviews that profiled NCRA members, and visits to high schools by professionals working in the field to introduce potential new students to the profession and provide in­sight about its many career options.

To mark last year’s celebration, Prince Institute, for example, offered a mix of campus activities and live seminars geared toward prospective and current students, alumni, faculty, and staff, which highlight­ed the knowledge and skills required to be successful in the profession at each of its locations in Alabama, Colorado, and Illi­nois. Activities included ice cream socials, a school spirit “Wear Your Swag” Day, and machine decorating contests. In addition, professional court reporters, captioners, CART providers, and legal videographers shared their experiences, stories, and ad­vice with students about working in the profession.

In Chicago, MacCormac College partnered with a local college to provide free captioning of a keynote address given during the school’s Black History Month celebration, and in Merrillville, Ind., firm owner Kathy Cortopassi hosted a free open house and demonstration of real­time court reporting and captioning tech­nology at the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana.

In honor of this year’s week-long event, NCRA will sup­port a public relations campaign designed to highlight the career options available to those who graduate from a court reporting program. Plans also include an official leg­islative recognition of National Court Re­porting & Captioning Week. As part of the campaign, NCRA will rely on its social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to reach thousands of people, as well as promote Captioning Matters, a newly launched web-based initiative that offers resources and information to consumers about captioning and CART services that are available.

Other efforts will include heightened marketing about the court reporting and captioning profession and the benefits of joining NCRA. A variety of resources are also available at NCRA.org to help celebrate the week including tips on pre­senting the benefits of the profession to potential new students, press release tem­plates, social media-appropriate logos and banners, and tips for hosting special activities such as a Veterans History Pro­ject Day. Several new YouTube videos will also be available to members on the re­source site, created by the National Court Reporters Foundation, that address what CART and broadcast captioning is, the benefits of a court reporting career, how a steno machine works, and more.

“National Court Reporting & Cap­tioning Week lets us celebrate what makes our field unique. Stenographic court re­porters have been around for a hundred years, and we’ve embraced technology which has allowed us to expand into cap­tioning for television and for the deaf and hard-of-hearing,” says Nancy Var­allo, RDR, CRR, NCRA’s current presi­dent. “Our profession is a great example of traditional skills employing the latest in high-tech to provide cutting-edge services in the litigation arena and in captioning. Our profession is a great career choice be­cause skilled court reporters and caption­ers are in high demand.”

44-45_2Captioning Matters promotes importance of broadcast captioning and provides resources

NCRA’s Captioning Matters initiative was developed to promote the im­portance of broadcast captioning and CART captioning to consumer groups. The website, which centers on NCRA’s Best Practices for Broadcast Caption­ing, allows consumers to learn more about these important services that are offered by the Association’s mem­bers and resources to help find a CART captioner or to file a complaint when a television station provides poor cap­tions. A 2010 study by the FCC actually showed that 70 percent of the time, captioning errors are not the fault of the actual captioner but instead are due to a variety of technical issues that can occur during the transmission of the broadcast.

Captioning Matters also includes an outreach component whereby tel­evision stations, networks, cable com­panies, content creators, and others can sign on as supporters of the program. Court Reporting & Captioning Week is the ideal time to share information about the Captioning Matters program with individuals who are consumers of captioning and CART services. For more information, visit www.captioningmatters.org.

NCRA works with FCC on captioning quality

On Tuesday, Dec. 10, NCRA executive director & CEO Jim Cudahy, CAE, NCRA assistant director of government relations Adam Finkel, government relations specialist Brandon Schall, PLC, and outside legislative counsel Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC, met with several officials at the Federal Communications Commission to discuss upcoming regulations related to captioning quality. NCRA’s captioning community of interest developed a list of best practices that have been vetted by many broadcast captioners, captioning companies, and key alliances in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. NCRA is hopeful that final regulations will be implemented in early 2014.

NCRA recently launched CaptioningMatters.org, a website that offers useful information for consumers of all captioning services, as well as the content creators, content providers, and all other individuals, companies, and organizations. The website also provides NCRA’s draft best practices on how to provide quality captions for television viewers. It will also provide the latest information related to captioning, including news, regulatory updates, legislative updates, videos, and other content of interest.

The website was built as part of a campaign to create greater recognition of the importance of quality captioning.  The campaign will seek to impart the numerous benefits of captions, such as raising reading levels for schoolchildren and aiding individuals who are learning English as a second language.

Please contact NCRA assistant director of government relations Adam Finkel if you have any questions.

NCRA takes an extended look at captioning

Since broadcast captioning became a critical and expected service in this country, solutions related to captioning quality metrics have been elusive and NCRA, captioners, captioning companies, broadcasters, and organizations that represent individuals who are deaf and hard-of-hearing have been unable to find a realistic solution. The solution is universally understood: captions should be readable, understandable, comprehensive, and timely. However, once the conversation of defining and calculating “an error” begins, realistic and workable solutions become less apparent.

It is for this reason that a subcommittee of NCRA’s Captioning Community of Inter­est began to work on best practices related to captioning quality. The members com­prising that group are Carol Studenmund, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, Amy Bowlen, RDR, CRR, CBC, Darlene Parker, RPR, Darlene Pickard, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, and Tracy Reinke, RPR, CRR, CBC, CCP.

After breaking out roles and responsi­bilities of various players within the cap­tioning cycle, the document lists suggested best practices to captioners, captioning companies, content creators, content dis­tributors, and consumers of captioning services. As a group, we have been reach­ing out to hearing health groups and cap­tioning companies to ask for their feed­back, and we have been very pleased with what we have been hearing from them. The document is not quite finished but we have received some excellent comments from these individuals and organizations which have been incorporated thus far.

Simultaneously, NCRA became aware that the Federal Communications Com­mission was taking a serious look at cap­tioning standards. We were extremely concerned about potential solutions that solely dealt in specific captioning stand­ards. What we wanted to avoid was a situ­ation like the one that has recently become law in Canada, where simple edits a cap­tioner makes to maintain their speed but do not affect the viewer’s understanding of the program have been ruled an error. For example, if a speaker in a program says “they are” and the captioner writes “they’re”, the regulations in Canada rule that an error. We do not buy this line of reasoning and are working on that specific situation now but that will be the subject of a different article.

Essentially, NCRA’s outside legisla­tive counsel, Dave Wenhold, and I went to the FCC’s D.C. headquarters to meet with several representatives from its disability rights division. We explained issues that captioners often face that makes their jobs more difficult, such as lack of adequate preparation time and incomplete prepa­ration materials, a poor audio connec­tion, and a lack of tech support from the content creator or content provider. Ad­ditionally, we noted exactly why specific quality metrics will not improve the level of captioning that viewers receive. We left the meeting confident that if and when the FCC eventually does issue quality stand­ards related to captioning, the interests of our captioners and captioning companies will be well-represented in the final prod­uct.

What comes next? We will be finaliz­ing the captioning quality document that can be found at captioningmatters.org by reaching out to content creators and con­tent providers and requesting their feed­back on the document. NCRA will also be undertaking a major public relations effort aimed at educating consumers of all captioning services, content creators, content providers, and all other individu­als, companies, and organizations related to captioning about how to provide the best captions for television viewers every­where.

Finally, we will remain in contact with the FCC as they deliberate over caption­ing quality and push toward a workable solution for captioners and individuals who rely on captioning services, as well as pushing all media markets to caption all of their programming.

 

Adam Finkel is NCRA’s Assistant Director of Govern­ment Relations and can be reached at afinkel@ncra.org or 703-556-6272 ext. 159.

NCRA launches “Captioning Matters” campaign

National Court Reporters Association has launched a new campaign to increase awareness of captions and advocate for the increased need for accurate, understand­able, and timely captions. “Captioning Matters” will begin as a branded, online advocacy campaign and resource center and is expected to grow over time. The campaign will explain how captions em­power the American public in addition to explaining the many parties who are involved in providing captions, from the content creator to the captioner to the broadcaster.

The website, CaptioningMatters.com, will be housed independently of NCRA’s own website and will be built to provide information for consumers. It will also serve as a clearinghouse of the latest in­formation related to captioning, including news, regulatory updates, legislative up­dates, videos, and other content of inter­est. In addition, NCRA’s captioning best practices, which were drafted by the Cap­tioning Quality Standards Subcommittee in 2013, will be prominently featured on the site to offer both those responsible for generating captions and those who use captions a source for discussion.

The Captioning Matters campaign will serve as a resource for people with hearing impairments as well as those people involved in providing captions. Further, the campaign will seek to impart the numerous benefits of captions, such as raising reading levels for schoolchil­dren and aid individuals who are learning English as a second language. In addition, the campaign will seek to educate relevant parties on a number of other aspects of captioning, as follows.

ENCOURAGE ADOPTION OF BEST PRACTICES

As a core part of the campaign, NCRA will seek to build relationships through the Captioning Matters campaign as a way to encourage broadcasters and other service providers, as well as appropriate and relevant interest groups, to support quality captioning. When television sta­tions, community organizations, and so on agree to provide captioning according to NCRA’s best practices, they will be des­ignated a supporter of Captioning Mat­ters and will be entitled to logos and other insignia that indicate their support of the Captioning Matters movement.

EMPOWER CONSUMERS WHO NEED CAPTIONING

Captioning Matters will also provide ac­cess to advocacy tools that can be lever­aged by captioning consumers to contact broadcasters, cable companies, and other key players to encourage them to sign onto the Captioning Matters campaign. As one example, we will provide template letters that consumers can use to request caption­ing of their local television stations, com­munity organizations, and elected officials.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

With Captioning Matters, NCRA will cre­ate an online resource center in which interested parties, including members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, can find information about captioning services, contact outlets to request ser­vices, stay informed about regulatory and legislative updates, and access best prac­tices to help ensure proper captioning is made available when needed. Users seek­ing a captioner or CART provider will be directed to the NCRA online Sourcebook, thus promoting the use of skilled NCRA members.

AWARENESS

Captioning Matters will put a face on the real people who benefit from captioning services through the use of profiles; these photo profiles are likely to include the el­derly, non-English speaking citizens, chil­dren, students, and others. The profiles will tell personal stories and explain vari­ous needs for captioning services.

For additional information or to provide information for the website, visit CaptioningMatters.com.