Video offers insight into world of CART

A video posted by Arturo Martinez on July 28 on explains the benefits and purposes of using Communications Access Realtime Translation (CART). The video interviews a number of University of Washington students who have used CART, which enabled them to follow the lectures or conversations of the classroom by reading the steno-to-English translation on a computer or other compatible screen as it happened in the classroom. “If you have verbatim, word-by-word print right there in front of you, you’re able to understand more and have a lesser chance of misinterpreting what [the teacher and class are] saying,” explains one student.

Read more.

State of the CART

By Jen Schuck
CART captioning has come a long way in the past 10 years. Gone are the days of sitting next to the client with cables strewn all over the place, and it does not take ong to figure out that fewer cords are better when providing any kind of captioning services. Still, power outlets seem to be a commodity today as everyone has an electronic device of some sort. Ever try to charge a device at an airport? Below are just a few of the many areas in which CART captioning has changed over the past decade.


Every CART captioner has a steno machine and these machines have gotten significantly smaller over the years. The most lightweight machine on the market today is the LightSpeed, weighing in at only 2.6 pounds, but there are many options on the market weighing less than five pounds. This is a welcome change, as weight and size are a big consideration when providing CART captioning on a campus or in any setting where being mobile is imperative. Today’s most up-to-date machines also offer wireless connectivity to CAT software, which eliminates tethering CART captioners to their laptops. In addition, the battery life on today’s machines has also greatly improved.


There is an array of laptops to choose from these days. While everyone has a brand preference, the number of USB hubs on a machine is still one of the major factors to consider, followed by size and weight. Manufacturers now offer immense power in a thin, lightweight machine. If the consumer is going to be using the CART captioner’s laptop to view the text, a larger screen may be preferable. Luckily, this does not mean that the laptop has to weigh you down. There are nice thin laptops with large screens on the market with some brands even offering up to seven hours of battery life – again, one less cord and no need for that elusive power outlet.


Once you have the basic needs covered, next comes the question of how your consumer is going to receive his or her CART captions. There are so many more options in 2014 than there were in 2004. For example, personal devices are the smallest and lightest way to go, but there’s also the option of outputting to a tablet, which will require Internet access or a LAN connection. Advantage Software offers BridgeMobile as a platform to view text on any computer with Internet access, and Stenograph offers CaseViewNet. These are great options to transmit text to a consumer, either on-site or remotely. Contact the vendors for more information.
If Internet access is not available at the location of the job, access can be supplied by a hotspot, something a lot of cell phones have the ability to do now. Contact your cell service provider for further details. If you have to connect to the Internet via a LAN, today’s routers are even smaller and more convenient to carry than they have been in the past. Check with your CAT software vendor to see if a specific brand is recommended.
If Internet access is not going to be available in any form, Stenocast offers products to output to netbooks or other computers via Bluetooth technology. They offer products to connect steno machines to laptops as well as to connect the CART captioner’s laptop to the consumer’s laptop. Check out for more information.
For those CART captioners who caption large conferences, Text on Top is a great choice to eliminate the need for projectors and extra screens. This is a wireless device that allows a CART captioner to place captions onto a screen that is also displaying a PowerPoint or other type of presentation. The output of the CART captions look like closed captioning through an encoder, but it only uses two USB devices: one on the CART captioner’s computer and one on the computer displaying the PowerPoint. For more information, check out
With technology moving so fast, I can only imagine what the next decade will bring. Making CART captioning more mobile may possibly be the next frontier. It’s been done, but requests to make it more readily available are occurring more often. Devices like Google Glass may allow walking CART captioning (see “A Glimpse of the Future“) to be more commonplace in the future.
CART captioning is definitely a growing field. With all of this emerging technology and equipment becoming lighter and smaller, the possibilities to positively change our consumers’ lives are endless.
Jen Schuck, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, is a CART provider in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the chair of NCRA’s CART Community of Interest. She can be reached at

CART-Wise: You are only as good as your dictionary

By Jennifer Porto
How many times have you been on a job and thought, “Why don’t I have that word in my dictionary?” For every easy job, there is that one job that humbles us when we quickly realize that we will never have enough words in our dictionary, nor will we ever write fast enough.
My story begins on the first day of a new semester. With my first glance — or whiff — of the professor, I knew this was not going to be a typical Bio 211 lecture class. The lanky professor kicked off his worn Birkenstocks as he unpacked his satchel of textbooks. Staring, I willed myself to look away.
Why does it smell like cinnamon and sweaty socks? I couldn’t take my eyes off of the brown cotton socks with snags where the buckles from his Birkenstocks rest. His frayed, multistained Levi’s made me wonder if he had worn these jeans while foraging for wild mushrooms. His hair mimicked a shorter version of Einstein’s.
The student whom I was writing for and I made our introductions. The professor asked if I had ever captioned a biology class. “Of course; no problem,” I told him.Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, I thought. Math, biology, chemistry, and the like are my favorite classes to caption.
I had done everything in my power to prepare, just as I do for all of the classes I am assigned. I create what seems like never-ending lists of words before each class. I knew that most of the words would be multisyllabic, so it would not be enough to merely put the words in my dictionary just once. I would stroke out each phonetic syllable over and over, creating new prefixes and suffixes.
I was 100 percent confident in my dictionary — until the professor began the PowerPoint presentation on the subjects to be covered during the semester.
The first time he said, “synapomorphy,” my fingers froze. I thought, Syn-nappy-what? I sat up straighter. I was repeating the syllables in my head as I cleanly stroked SEUPB/AP/PHOR/TPAOE, scolding myself, “Why don’t I have a brief for ‘morphy’? What did he say?” Words and syllables that I’ve never heard were whizzing past my ears like bullets in a combat zone. “Symplesiomorphy,” SIPL/PHRAEUZ-what? “Autapomorphy,” AUTwhat-PHOR/TPAOE. I knew I had to drop, but he was speaking so quickly that there was not a clean place to pick it up again. This is about when my self-talk got the best of me. He’s talking so fast! “Clades.” I write KLAEUD/Z, Thankfully, I knew that word would come up. “Cladogram,” Okay, I can get this word to come up too. Concentrating, I stroke, KHRAEUD/O/TKPWRAPL. “Cladogram.” Ugh, that’ll have to be good enough. I’m no longer rhythmically writing; rather, I’m pounding because my fingers feel like they have weights attached to them. I’m suddenly aware of the horrible acoustics in the auditorium. Is that the acoustics or is he mumbling? He’s mumbling. My thoughts were frantic now. Why is he walking around in holey socks? Stop mumbling.
When the professor finally spoke the words, “Okay. See you next week,” I inhaled deeply. I must have been holding my breath for what felt like the entire two-hour class. My legs were aching from pushing my feet hard into the floor to help me channel my concentration. Saving the transcript and turning off my computer, I thought about the tiresome task of editing the notes for the student. I knew I would be Googling every other word. There was only one positive thing I could be certain of: I was going to have a stellar dictionary at the end of the semester.
Briefs, unfortunately, were mostly of no use in this case except for a few. Synapomorphy came up often, so I used SAEUP. Most of the terminology changed weekly as the class progressed through the textbook; unfortunately, the only constant was the stinky, shoeless professor and his holey socks.
I am not the first reporter to be blown away by the terminology on a job. When we arrive at our jobs, while we will never know if we have a chair to sit in or if the environment around us will be a distraction, one thing we can be in control of is how well our dictionary is prepped. How do you make your dictionary better? To me, editing my transcripts and working on my dictionary are a priority. The better your dictionary is, the better you write because the words will, hopefully, come up on the first attempt; ultimately, your concentration will be better, and the job becomes less stressful. Prepping may be tedious, but having an idea of the terminology allows me to think less because I’m not struggling to write every word. I write faster and easier.
There are many things I do to find new words to build my dictionary. One of my rules is to look up every word before putting it in my dictionary to make sure I have the correct spelling, capitalization, whether it needs a hyphen, and so on. What good is a word in your dictionary if it is not correct? When you read the morning paper, novels, recipes — these are all resources to finding new words that are not in your dictionary. There are also a variety of lexicons that can be useful to finding terminology on specific topics. For
example, I had a job once that was discussing the Harry Potter books as they relate to Greek mythology. Do you have Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape in your dictionary? I didn’t.
For me, hearing the words as I realtime is the most efficient way. How many times have you phonetically entered a word by sight, and then realized the word is pronounced differently than the way you phonetically stroked it? It happens to me all the time when I’m inputting words from the lecture’s PowerPoint. I use websites such as Khan Academy, YouTube, and TED Talks for dictionary-building resources. You can search almost any topic and listen to lectures and speeches to help you practice writing the words.
While in school, we are so focused on building our speed that we don’t spend a lot of time building our dictionaries. I believe it is our duty to provide the best realtime possible for our students and/or clients. One of the greatest aspects of our job is that it is different every day. There are always a multitude of situations where we must be flexible and solve problems on the fly, but you are in control of your dictionary before you walk through that door. Ask yourself: Aside from editing, how much time do I spend researching words? Can I watch the news and know that every word said is in my dictionary, if just for one minute? Try it.
Jennifer Porto is a CART provider in the Southern California area. She can be reached at

A captioning ministry beyond church walls

By Margo Lucas

While captioning one Sunday morning, I noticed a gentleman who had walked in late and was trying to get my attention. When there was a pause in my writing, I glanced over and saw a big smile on his face as if he knew me. I vaguely recognized him but couldn’t place where I had seen him before.

After the service, he approached me and as soon as he spoke, I realized who he was. It had been some time since I had last seen Jim. I had briefly provided CART for him until he violated parole and was sent back to jail.

At one time he owned his own business, lived in a beautiful home in a wonderful community, and was happily married. His deafness occurred gradually. It was attributed to an overuse of antibiotics given to him as a child for ear infections, although his military tours also caused permanent hearing damage. (It is estimated that 70 percent of our military men and women return home with some form of hearing loss.). Hearing aids no longer worked for him, and he didn’t have coverage to pay for a cochlear implant. Soon he lost his business and his home, and he found himself divorced. As a deaf individual, he no longer fit in the hearing world, nor did he fit in with the Deaf community, as he had no sign language skills. He became isolated and escaped into the world of alcohol and drugs. After several encounters with the law, he was sentenced to prison.

Now, years later, here he was worshipping in church. I thought to myself, boy, he sure cleaned up well. He was sober and clean shaven with a fresh new haircut. He had on a nice pair of jeans and a collared shirt. His eyes were bright and cheerful, and his smile was contagious.

After a few weeks of attending church services regularly, he asked me if I would provide a transcript, which I did. Months later, he shared the impact those transcripts had not only on him but on the individuals he had been forwarding them to who were still incarcerated. This encouraged me to explore areas in which the captioning ministry could expand beyond church walls.

I learned many things as I tried to determine the benefits of providing a sermon transcript.

• Transcripts can be translated into other languages using text translators.
• Transcripts can be an aid to those learning English.
• Transcripts provide accessibility for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
• Transcripts can be downloaded by people who are both blind and deaf and be used through a Braille reader.
• Individuals and study groups can keyword search transcripts, as well as highlight and print the sermons.
• Transcripts can be archived and cataloged electronically for quick reference by pastors and interns.

Many forgotten people or groups could benefit greatly from a sermon transcript if it is posted on your church’s website. Incarcerated individuals do not have access to the Internet to view or listen to sermons; however, they are allowed access to written material. Check local churches and inquire if they have a prison ministry or prison outreach. Oftentimes the ministry includes volunteers who write letters to inmates. Excerpts or transcripts in whole can be included with their notes of hope and encouragement. Google the county jails and state and federal prisons, and notify the chaplain of this accessible material that can be distributed.

Often churches have ministries to reach out to people of different languages in different countries. It is more accurate to translate one language to another from a transcript than an audio format. There are inexpensive software programs such as Systran Translator ( and Promt Translator ( or Yahoo’s free version of BabelFish ( that would allow people to translate the transcripts into various languages as a wonderful resource for international missionaries.

Transcripts would make the sermon accessible to people who are hearing impaired or deaf, as well as for people who are deaf and blind and have access to a Braille reader.

Research shows that when given a choice between an audio or transcript download, people are three times more likely to choose the transcript. Most people won’t take the time to listen to a 30-minute sermon, but they will take the time to read a transcript.

If you have been thinking of becoming involved in a captioning ministry but are not yet comfortable with writing realtime, this would be a wonderful post-production way to have an influence while honing your skills and building your dictionary. This is a nation starving for spiritual direction. By transcribing sermons, you would be an integral part in reaching many forgotten people groups.

“I had such a hard time finding a church that had captioning. I went to the church I had grown up in and tried a couple of other churches with my daughter. But every time we explained to the pastor that I couldn’t hear and didn’t know sign, they responded that there was nothing they could do. So, I just stopped going. If it wasn’t for Elmbrook Church offering captioning, I would not be able to attend services,” Jim said.

I was reminded of the quote: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as you ever can.”

Margo Lucas, CCP, CBC, RPR, CRI, is a CART provider based in Menomonee Falls, Wis. She can be reached at


Am I selling myself short?

51Once you are armed with NCRA’s certified CART provider designation, what else do you need to consider as you venture into business for yourself? CART is being used in many diverse venues as either an onsite or remote service, and there are costs, as well as various hardware and software issues, associated with each that you need to take into account.

In an on-site classroom setting, stu­dents can view CART many different ways. Obvious­ly, the student can sit next to the CART pro­vider, but that is considered “old school.” It is what I did more than 15 years ago. A student can now use a tablet or netbook to receive CART on a variety of software programs, and the CART provider can be sitting anywhere in the classroom, sending the CART via Internet to the student using a portable device. If an Internet connec­tion is not available, the CART provider can bring a portable router or a hotspot. Companies such as StenoCast, some CAT vendors, and Text on Top have devices built just for this type of setting. For onsite CART, I also consider how much time I need to travel and to set up and break down my equipment. A two-hour mini­mum rate is common in these situations.

If an onsite job requires the CART feed to be projected, some fun new features are available. Some CAT software will allow a specialized CART window that can be shared with the projector so that CART providers can be working in their own CART window, and the consumers will not see what the providers are doing. Text on Top will insert text on top of a PowerPoint — similar to the look of captioning. And, boy, what is available now with projec­tors is amazing. Even some smartphones can be set up to work as projectors! The CART provider needs to know what is expected in this set­ting ahead of time and not be blindsided at the last minute. Again, take into consid­eration travel and setup time.

In a remote CART setting, I love that I have so many different options for de­livery, such as Adobe Acrobat, Blackboard, StreamText, 1CapApp, and many others. On my end, I need a stable Internet con­nection and a way to receive audio. Again, there are many options, such as Skype, AOL, or a phone connection. The options seem to grow exponentially! Another op­tion could be as simple as screen sharing with Skype. It depends on the situation and the consumer. Check with your CAT software as to what specific settings would work best. The majority of remote CART projects are billed at an hourly rate, taking into consideration the cost of third-party software.

Some other costs of doing business are not obvious, such as E&O insurance, liability insurance, business insurance, redundant equipment, and software sup­port contracts. And once you’ve acquired your certification, you must maintain your CEUs, and the cost of attending con­ventions or other educational offerings can add up.

Without getting too deep into specif­ics, here are a few other things that need to be considered as you develop your rate:

  • Your level of overall experience and certification;
  • The going rate in your area for onsite CART; if no one is available, privately consult with a working CART provider nearby; and
  • For remote CART, again, privately consult with working CART providers to see what the average for this type of work is; where you live would not come into play here.

On a final note, as a CART provider, be ready to be faced with that age-old ques­tion: “Isn’t this the old-fashioned way? Why not use voice recognition?” Frankly, CART is the best voice recognition. It offers consumers the best accuracy rate, includes speaker identifications and background noises, which are lost or garbled by voice recognition, and offers the possibility of receiving an immediate transcript. You are your own best advocate. Be prepared for the questions you will certainly receive, asking why this method should be used, and be armed with facts and solid reasons why you are the best, most current way to provide realtime translation.

After considering the time, effort, hardware, software, and education you have invested, you certainly don’t want to sell yourself short!


JCR Contributing Editor Deanna P. Baker, RMR, is a cap­tioner and CART provider in Flagstaff, Ariz. She can be reached at

Captioning from the set of a nationally televised program

Just who is this “Dee Boenau,” you might ask?

I am a determined woman with a competitive side sprinkled with a pinch of spunk, married to Jack Boenau, captioner/reporter extraordinaire in his own right. I am determined to finish what I started in my own personal best way. Sometimes that determi­nation can be a dangerous thing.

Many years ago, I found myself at the top of a small mountain, but it looked very big in this amateur skier’s mind. Look­ing down the mountain, the reality of my situation struck me like an avalanche. De­termined to get down that mountain, my spunk took over. Before anybody could say, “Dee, wait,” I took off on my downhill adventure, and with every ounce of energy I could muster, I tried to snowplow the densely packed snow. Because I was gain­ing too much speed, my energy quickly turned to thinking about how I could stop without hurting myself. As a Floridian, I don’t own a ski suit, but I was wearing four layers of pants, so I dropped my butt to the ground and wiped out. Nobody could see me because of the white cloud of snow I created, but I had brought that skiing at­tempt to a successful halt.

The determination to get down that mountain is the same determination that has made me the successful and skilled realtime captioner I am today. I was con­cerned at first that viewers using the cap­tioning would see I was not getting every word. So I practiced for three months be­fore I first went on the air, captioning lo­cal government meetings. Soon I was no longer fearful that people would see that I was not getting every word because my determination to practice had improved my skills. When I did have to drop words, who watch­ing the caption­ing would be able to remember what words I did drop if people were talking that fast? It’s kind of like the white cloud of snow when I wiped out on the mountain and nobody could see me. Nevertheless, I’ve made it my goal to be the fastest realtime writer I can be.

I’ve been very fortunate to caption for clients who truly do appreciate what I do and the skill set I possess. The show Daytime, produced at Riverbank Studios in Tampa, Fla., is just that kind of client. Daytime is a nationally televised show in the United States covering a myriad of subjects from wines to makeup to music to the latest happenings in Hollywood. When I won the National Court Report­ers Association Realtime Contest in 2010, the producer of Daytime invited me on the show to talk about the win and describe just how closed captioning is performed. It was a fabulous opportunity to bring awareness to the general public about closed captioning, how there is a human being behind those words, and why some­times there are strange translations or words that seem out of place.

That wasn’t the only time Daytime has recognized me on the show. In 2011, I traveled to Paris where I competed in Intersteno, the trademark of the Inter­national Federation for Information and Communication Processing. I placed second in the World Speech Capturing contest; China placed first. Daytime once again acknowledged my achievement on the show. I am one lucky captioner for sure!

I was then approached by Marc Green­berg, the documentary producer of On the Record: A Year in Court Reporting, to par­ticipate in the Guinness World Record At­tempt in Nashville in 2013. I initially said no because the attempt was to consist of two-voice question-and-answer testimony dic­tation. As a captioner, I don’t do any work that involves testimony material. Knowing that I didn’t have a chance at breaking the current record, I changed my mind because I thought I could be a good representative for the closed cap­tioning industry and help bring more exposure to the professionals behind the scenes.

I mentioned the Guinness World Re­cord attempt to the producers of Daytime. They loved the idea and invited me and a few other people involved in the World Re­cord on the show. Initially, Daytime wanted to have a real competition between Mark Kislingbury and me, but I didn’t want to make Mark look bad. Okay, I’m just kid­ding. I wanted to make sure I still had your attention. That’s my pinch of spunk.

The day arrived that we were to all meet at the Riverbank Studios located in Tampa, Fla. I arrived with my magical bag, like the bag Hermione Granger has in one of the Harry Potter movies where she can pull out anything she needs at any point in time. That’s what my steno bag is like. I have every adapter, every cable, two of everything — and the production crew at the television station loved it! If you watch the segment on YouTube, you’ll see that Mark and I are hooked up to monitors. No, I didn’t pull the monitors out of my bag, but I did have all the necessary cables and adapters to hook us up.

Once we were all set up, I almost felt like I was at the top of that scary little mountain again, but in this case, I knew there was no possibility of breaking any bones if I wiped out. I captioned the en­tire show of Daytime from that very spot where you see me seated in the video. I had to tackle some technical issues connecting to the encoder, but thanks to the fantastic engineering staff at the station, the hu­mans outsmarted the technology. At one point, I thought about clicking my imagi­nary ruby slippers together and repeating, “There’s no place like home to caption from,” but then I realized I had taken my shoes off in order to curl my toes under so I could concentrate better.

Gone was my comfort zone and quiet environment of my home office from which I caption daily; hello to all sorts of noise and distractions surrounding me on the set of Daytime. When it was time for me to caption the segment that I was in, the production crew was actually break­ing down the set and the monitor behind me while I had to write the 360 words per minute testimony portion and the Jersey Shore dictation of that segment. My at­tempts at a very loud “Shhhhhh” went unnoticed, but that’s okay because I knew they were working under some time con­straints. It’s possible the distractions made me concentrate even harder, and I really didn’t mind the challenge.

All involved had a wonderful time on the set of Daytime. Marc Greenberg brought attention to a profession that has flown under the radar unnoticed for years, and Mark Kislingbury and I had a chance to demonstrate the skills that can be achieved. We owe a great deal of grati­tude to Daytime for giving us the platform to do this. I am sure it will spark interest from the general public to check out court reporting and captioning as a career. I am determined to promote the profession everywhere I go and to be the fastest and most accurate realtime writer I can be and to keep looking for a higher and higher mountain to tackle!


Dee Boenau, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, is a realtime captioner, CART provider, and convention reporter in Sarasota, Fla. She can be reached at

You’ve got this!

34-35How many times had I heard “you’ve got this!” during the 13 attempts it took me to finally pass the California Certified Shorthand Reporter examination? Many on Facebook or On the Cheap and Sleazy Side, an online court reporting newsletter, read my narrative about my journey through court reporting school. For those of you who didn’t, I would like to inspire you to never give up on your dreams.

I started theory in 1984. I eventually had to quit day school. I found a full-time job, and I went to night school for about 10 years, during which I made no progress. Furthermore, I had some mean-spirited bosses whom I allowed to make my life miserable.

I had about four surgeries, which meant I had to take time off from school. As my grandmother aged, she became very ill, and my family and I spent many hours in the emergency room. I had several car problems and was involved in a couple of hit-and-run accidents. I was very close to my grandmother, who passed away, and later — around 2002 — both my mom and brother were diagnosed with cancer. My brother died in 2003. After my mom died in 2004, my husband, James, helped me go to day school full time. I will always remember what he said: “I want to make it so that the only thing you have to do is go to school.”

I did very well in day school. I main­tained a 4.0 GPA, I was the recipient of the 2004 Academic Excellence Award, and I was a member of the International Honor Society. I was on a mission. Just before I was eligible for qualifiers, my husband suffered a stroke, and later, he had to have a total hip replacement. James has recuperated, but he still has some health challenges.

I took my first CSR in 2008. I was excit­ed. Unfortunately, there were many more vicissitudes of life, but I believed if I wanted it badly enough, I must stick with it.


I cannot share my journey without giv­ing homage to God, who is always faith­ful. When my mother died, I asked God to help me draw close to Him.

I was devastated when I didn’t pass the 2008 California court reporting examina­tion, because I felt I needed to start paying off some of my debts. What was I going to do? A classmate invited me and other classmates over to her house. One of my classmates had just passed the CSR exami­nation. She introduced me to CART, and I fell in love with the idea of providing CART. From 2008 to 2012, I had a spir­itual awakening, so I leaned on my faith and drew closer to God. Learning about CART and my faith both spurred me on to continue taking the CSR.

My friends and instructors from Cer­ritos College and Downey Adult School and I were perplexed. I passed around 30 qualifiers at school, even as I continued to take and fail the state exam. I even received my 240 WPM pin. What’s up with that? As I prepared for each test, we were sure I would pass. Every time – from my first test to my sixth test and so on – I thought, surely this will be the test I pass.

Test takers are allowed to miss 50 words total. One year, I had 51 errors. I tried hypnosis DVDs. I prayed every morning, asking God to show me what I needed to do to pass my test. After test number 11, I was dumbfounded. Everyone told me I was probably nervous; however, I did not agree with that.

From 2009 to 2012, I worked as a CART provider, and I worked occasion­ally as a hearing reporter. Many people feel that CART hinders a student’s ability to pass the state examination. Perhaps that is true, but I know quite a few students who took the CSR and passed it the first time while working as a CART provider. I went to school more than I worked, and I was blessed to have a supportive husband. However, in my humble opinion, I believe stu­dents must do the fol­lowing if they have to work.

Either continue going to school or practice building speed on your own. Closing my eyes before practicing, I would visualize myself at the CSR. I would do a mock CSR, transcribe it, and correct it. I practiced the same steps as I would per­form in school. It’s imperative to tran­scribe. I cannot stress this enough. I always read my notes aloud.

While working, we become distracted and forget about those boring drills our instructors gave us to practice. Those bor­ing drills are what helped us get to the CSR in the first place. Therefore, do the bor­ing drills like you did when you were in school.


Each time I failed the CSR, I picked myself up and looked toward the future. Kathye Hall, one of my in­structors, used to en­courage us students to practice affirmations. I tried it a couple of times. After CSR number 11 or 12, I decided to revisit the affirma­tion thing again. Bingo! We love it when someone else gives us a compliment. I thought to myself: “Why wait for someone else to tell me what an awe­some court reporter I will be?”

I had to work very hard to cut off the chattering in my head while writ­ing on my machine. I learned to not create the chatter. That’s it. Don’t allow it to be­gin. As soon as those first words begin to form a sentence, I said “stop” or “no” and focused on the dictation and the words and looked directly at the speaker.

I also discovered that I would start cel­ebrating too soon, and then I would drop and ruin the entire test. “You’re getting this. Oh, my goodness, it looks like you might pass this one,” or “Oh, no, you hit the wrong key.” So instead, I learned to say to myself: “You can party after you pass the CSR.”

Margie Wakeman-Wells, CRI, gave me some valuable information when I reached out to her. She instructed me just before the November 2012 CSR exami­nation that, since I had the speed at this point, I should be making sure my fingers are going in the right places when I hit the keys. I believe this helped me to refocus my thinking while writing on my machine.

Everybody is different. I learned that it was better for me to keep to myself at the CSR. While repeating affirmations weeks before the examination, I would stand erect and confident in front of a mirror and say, “You will stay calm if you hit the incorrect key. You will not allow chatter to interfere with performing well, and you have the ability to pass the CSR exam.” I repeated my affirmations while standing in line waiting to go into the dictation room.

I had a wonderful support system: my husband, who said he knew it would eventually “click” for me, my family (my brother James went to Sacramento with me one time; he was amazed at what we went through), my friends, my instructors, and my classmates. My church family kept me motivated also. They had a prayer line going when I was scheduled to take the CSR. When I gave my testimony that I had finally passed the CSR exam on the thir­teenth time, the entire congregation stood on their feet with a thunderous applause.

During this entire time, I believed and never gave up faith that I would eventually pass the CSR.

Never, never give up on your dreams. God has a plan for you. You’ve got this!


Teresa Russ, CSR, is currently a CART provider at El Camino Community College and Long Beach City Col­lege in California. You can reach her at

Profile: Jennifer Sati, RMR, CRR, CBC, CCP, CRI

23Program director of judicial reporting/broadcast captioning program at Anoka Technical College and independent captioner/CART provider.

Currently resides in Dayton, Minn.


GRADUATED FROM: Northern Technical College, Minneapolis, Minn.

THEORY: The Big Green Book! I’m sure it had a name!



I loved watching my fingers fly on a typewriter, and I wanted a specific career as well. Court reporting was the perfect fit!


One thing I love about this profession is the flexibility in career options. I have worked as a freelancer, official, CART provider, captioner, and educator. The opportunities are unlimited.

I love how we all have our “lists” of cases! We reporters have so much to talk about when we get together. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to work on the O.J. Simpson trial with West Publishing, the Minnesota tobacco case, the first AIDS litigation in the 1980s, captioning NBA basketball, and so much more!


My favorite gadget is my Kindle Fire. I use it to read, play games, and watch videos. I just need to find more downtime!


I am most proud of the work I’ve been able to accomplish at Anoka Tech, teaching this wonderful pro­fession to others and seeing others walk away with a deep passion for the career. I never set out to end up as a teacher; I kind of walked into this position. After I freelanced for 15 years, I decided to accept an officialship posi­tion. My office was right next to a new reporter who had literally just graduated from court reporting school! She would come out of a hearing and be so excited: “We had an interpreter! It was the coolest thing!” Every hearing was exciting for her! I felt so much joy watching her start out her career. Jill tragically died in a car accident after reporting just a couple years. Shortly after that, I found myself stepping in at the school with students taking their very first speed tests. Watching their faces light up when they wrote and knew they passed a test was just like watching Jill’s face light up when she was walking out of her courtroom. The highlight of my career is sharing this profession with students and watching them start their careers!


Stay involved! Be members of your state association and NCRA. And by all means, pursue your certifications. Continuing education is critical to staying vital in the pro­fession and, in turn, the court reporting and captioning professions staying vital to industry demands. Graduate, pursue certifications, and stay current with the new technology.

Profile: Lisa B. Johnston, RMR, CRR, CCP, CBC

LisaCART provider

Currently resides in Palm Bay, Fla.

GRADUATED FROM: Orlando College
THEORY: Stenograph


I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. When I was a sophomore in high school, I met Gerry Ryan, a court reporter in my county, and he told me all about his career and I was hooked. I knew right then that’s what I wanted to do. After high school, I went to court reporting school, and when it was time to intern with an agency, Gerry was kind enough to have me learn the ropes with him. After graduating college and receiving my A.S. degree, Gerry hired me, where I worked in his firm for 26 years. Working with Gerry, he gave me the love of the profession I still hold to this day.

I did a little bit of CART work and knew this was something I wanted to do full time. After Gerry’s death in 2011, I left the legal world of court reporting and became a full-time CART Provider. After 28 years in this profession, I am truly blessed with this path my career has taken me.


I grew up and live on the Space Coast of Florida and watching the space shuttles take off and land was sim­ply a part of my life. As a court reporter, I covered many hearings and depositions out at NASA/Kenne­dy Space Center. In 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded on its way back to KSC. It was a terribly sad time for the country and for my hometown. I was asked to work at the press site at KSC for seven days captioning the three-times-a-day accident briefings and also the three memorial services. It was such an emotional experience and one that I will never forget. I am so honored I was a part of that.


What has surprised me the most about being a court reporter and CART provider is how robotic I am when I am working. The words will come from the speaker’s mouth to my fingers, and I may not be really thinking about what is being said; I am simply doing my job and writing the words. I will never forget a murder trial I covered and hearing the horrible testimony of how the victim suffered and died. During the three-week trial, I did my job and did not let the emotions get in. Only when it was all over and the defendant was found guilty and sentenced to death did I actually think about what happened to the victim and cried for her.


Since I started my career, I have always wanted to become a Registered Merit Reporter, but I could not seem to pass the test. Oh, the nerves! I would try and try, then take a break, then try again. I gave up for many years, simply thinking I wasn’t good enough to pass the 260 wpm. It seems like I could pass everything else, but not my RMR. Then, 10 years after obtaining my RPR, I finally passed my RMR. Never give up on your dreams! I am so proud of myself for not giving up and so proud that I passed. I love seeing RMR next to my name!


My husband and I have a 40-foot motorhome and for the past seven years we have been able to take a few months a year to travel the United States. We have been to all 50 states, and 49 of those in a motorhome. We have made wonderful memories together that I truly treasure. And thanks to technology, there are times I am able to provide remote CART while traveling on the road. Work and play? A perfect combi­nation!


-BT a little bit
NAEURPL any way, shape or form
KROPBG correct me if I’m wrong

Captioning during worship “has been miraculous”

By Barb Harmon

As worship begins, Susie Shelton puts on her headphones. She concentrates intensely while stroking keys on the stenograph machine in front of her. The presider welcomes the congregation, and her words appear on two 55-inch monitors on either side of the rostrum.

When Susie was 7, a stranger asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. Susie said she didn’t know; he suggested she become a court reporter. “OK,” she recalls saying, “I’ll do that.”

This encounter began a journey of developing gifts that now benefit one of the largest unchurched groups of people – the hearing impaired.
Susie, now retired, sensed a call to use her skills to provide realtime captioning in worship. She became aware that 98 percent of people with impaired hearing do not attend church.

“The comfort that the word of God brings is phenomenal. It’s the foundation of living, and if they don’t have that, people are cut off. I think because I’ve always gotten so much comfort from the word of God and being able to participate in services, that I can’t imagine being cut off from your church family.”

Susie visited Stone Church in Independence, Mo., and shared her vision with Pastor Terry Snapp. Terry, whose wife, Betty, has severe hearing loss, was drawn to Susie’s idea.

A World Church Field Ministries grant funded the equipment. Terry says the Mission Initiatives were a priority in the grant proposal. “The ministry addresses issues of equality and justice for one of the largest populations of people. We also stressed an outreach in terms of inviting people to Christ, aware they can have an experience here unlike anywhere else.”

The captioning ministry at Stone Church is one of only a few in the world. Bill Landrum, a counselor in the Stone Church pastorate, has hearing loss. “None of the aids has equipment for my loss. I miss some women’s voices, high tones, and sounds like the fire alarm. I use closed captioning on my TV at home, so the captioning at Stone Church has been a real blessing.”

Betty Snapp has attended Stone Church since she was 16 and has worn hearing aids since age 21. “It can be terribly discouraging. In my 30s, I remember not attending for a while. It didn’t last very long, but that was the reason I stayed away. What did I get out of it?

“Though I read lips well, if a person drops their head, I miss out. Hearing aids can only do so much. I get tidbits and pieces, but not the whole ministry. I come away feeling cheated. I can’t be the only one who feels this way. This has been a miraculous thing to lead Susan here.”

Terry says the ministry also benefits people learning English as a second language, children, and adults who are visual learners: “The ripple effect extends beyond those with hearing impairment. I have been so proud of our congregation, inspired by Susan, to be so open to doing something so important and so relevant to the needs of people. We really feel God brought Susan to us, and God’s Spirit has encouraged us to go somewhere we never dreamed of going.”

Barb Harmon is from Independence, Mo. This article was originally published in the November 2012 Herald and is republished here with permission.