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

Meet the Guinness Challengers

Guinness ChallengeDuring the NCRA Convention & Expo, six stenographic reporters attempted to break the standing world record of 360 words per minute. Although no new record was set, the challengers excited and inspired many.

During the event, six challengers attempted to take down verbatim speeds of 370, 380, 390, and even 400 words per minute. While no one broke the record, Kislingbury came close with a 94.54 percent score on his transcription of a 370 wpm leg.

Spectators of the event sat in absolute silence as the recordings were played, but the buzz picked up between recordings, as people leaned over and told each other that they could barely make out the individual words. The event emcee, Bruce Matthews, RDR, CRR, of Cleveland, Ohio, provided commentary and man-on-the-street interviews as the six challengers transcribed. As the event drew to a close, people rushed the stage to congratulate the challengers, and throughout the convention, they were stopped and thanked for promoting what professionals in this field can truly do. After the event, we caught up with the six challengers and asked them to offer insight on the attempt to break the record.

Dee Boenau, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP

Sarasota, Fla.
CART provider, captioner, and convention reporter
Years on the job: 21
National Realtime Champion 2010

What appealed to you about competing in the Guinness World Record?

I thought it would be an opportunity to bring positive exposure to the field of court reporting and captioning.

How did you train for this competition?

If I trained for this competition, it would have destroyed the solid foundation of my realtime writing.

What advice would you give to students or reporters about increasing their speed while maintaining accuracy?

Don’t drop the Qs and As to gain speed. In my opinion, realtime writing is the focus now and into the future. Learn a basic theory, and then build upon it by shortening the theory. If you can’t think of ways to shorten the theory on your own, there are plenty of resources and forums full of ideas.

Would you consider competing in another Guinness attempt?

Absolutely! I’m even faster now as a result of listening and practicing to the higher speeds.

Was there anything that surprised you about the event?

I was surprised Mark did not break the record, but after transcribing a take myself, I can understand how two more minutes would have helped him in the transcription process. I was pleasantly surprised at how inspired, supportive, and happy the audience was even though the record was not broken.

Kathy Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, CCP, CBC,
and Realtime System Administrator

Dyer, Ind.
CART provider, captioner, firm owner
Years on the job: 29

What do you hope to gain from competing in the Guinness competition?

The pride in myself that I tried. The respect of my peers that I did, as well. Plus, it would have been nice to beat the pants off Mark Kislingbury!

What was it like for you up on the podium?

I heard the crowd rooting for us. I did hear the shock at how fast the dictations were. Quite frankly, I was equally shocked at how fast 400 wpm was compared to what I had been practicing. I agreed with them 100 percent! But during the dictation, I was so pleased, thankful, and shocked that we could hear a pin drop in the room. Awesome!

Did anything go through your mind as you tried to get the words down, or did you just find your focus point?

When I do speed contests, I focus on “the voice.” It’s me and the voice — that’s it. I have tunnel vision during the dictation. I actually got more confidence as Mark Kislingbury kept turning down the opportunity to transcribe 400, 400, 390, 390 … so, thanks, Mark!

Would you consider competing in another Guinness attempt?

I would do it again tomorrow if I could. Now that I feel more confident that it is within reach, it is doable, it is possible, I want at it now. Challenge us — and keep challenging us — for we certainly will not reach any higher than we are right now.

Mark Kislingbury, RDR, CRR

Houston, Texas
Court reporter, freelancer, CART provider, captioner, and firm owner
Years on the job: 30
Four-time winner of NCRA’s Realtime Contest
Seven-time winner of NCRA’s Speed Contest

How did you train for this competition?

I practiced every day, multiple times a day, between 450 and 500 wpm, for a year and a half. I usually put in 5 to 10 minutes per session.

Did you go into the event with a specific strategy?

I always drop Qs and As the moment that I sense that putting them in will risk that I drop words. (To the teachers who may tell students, “Never, under any circumstances, drop Q&A symbols on purpose, because they are important,” I respond, “Never, under any circumstances, drop words, because they are important.” I maintain that, if it’s so fast that you’re going to drop either symbols or words, then the Qs and As are the first to go because they can be replaced 95 percent of the time in the correct place; words cannot.) However, I was most concerned about combating nerves. So, I made the event, in my own mind, not about me but rather about the fact that I and the other participants were doing this for the profession, for other reporters and students, to inspire them to see what’s possible. This had the effect of making it more of a “noble cause” than a “test,” and it worked wonders in removing any test nerves.

Would you consider competing in another Guinness attempt?

I would love to. I want to keep improving, to pave the way for future young people to see what’s possible.

Diane Kraynak, RMR, CRR

Midland, Mich.
Court reporter, freelancer, and firm owner
Years on the job: 38
Seven-time winner of NCRA’s Speed Contest

What appealed to you about competing in the Guinness World Record?

Fame! I wanted to get in the book to show my grandkids – and have fun trying! Also, it was a great way to promote our profession.

What was it like up on the podium?

As we were writing, I knew the audience was there but everyone was so quiet, it was no problem.

What advice would you give to students or reporters about increasing their speed while maintaining accuracy?

My advice on speed-building: Make sure your heart is in it when you’re practicing. Otherwise, it’s wasted time. Twenty minutes of practice can be as worthwhile as two hours. I always practice at the speed of whatever contest I’m trying to pass and for the exact amount of time it will take, so that I know what I’m in for and how long I have to hang on. When I was speedbuilding in college, I remember practicing at about 20 wpm faster than where I was. I don’t like feeling that my fingers are out of control and slapping at the keys. But it’s whatever works for the individual. There’s lots of advice out there, and try everything till something works!

Was there anything that surprised you about the event?

How the room filled up! I didn’t think that many people would come.

Stanley Sakai

Seattle, Wash.
CART provider, captioner, and firm owner
Years on the job: 3

What do you hope to gain from competing in the Guinness competition?

I already have seen gains in my day-today writing on the job. I wanted to sit among the greats of this profession and hopefully demonstrate the extremely hard work I’ve put into this craft despite the relatively short time I’ve been in it. Also, I’m hoping through exposure from the competition to bring youth into a profession that is often mistaken as menial, secretarial, and moribund by my 20-something-year-old peers who for the most part never consider becoming a stenographer (provided they even know that stenographers still exist).

Would you consider competing in another Guinness attempt?

I’m hooked. I love the excitement, the attention/respect from peers, and that when training to compete in one of these, it only improves you professionally. There is nothing to lose and much to gain.

Was there anything that surprised you about the event?

I was surprised how all the other contestants were just normal people, too.

Looking back, what was the best part of attempting the new record for you?

Forcing myself to practice at insanely high speeds has made my realtime beautiful. Very seldom does the pace of normal speakers feel overwhelming to me anymore.

Kathryn A. Thomas, RDR, CCP

Caseyville, Ill.
CART provider
Years on the job: 15

What appealed to you about competing in the Guinness World Record?

Why not try to be the best?

What do you hope to gain from competing in the Guinness competition?

The gain’s already happened. Sitting down and writing a total of eight minutes of Q&A won’t bring as much gain as the past year and a half of training did.

Did you go into the event with a specific strategy?

My strategy was simply to write as fast and best I could. Sounds like a cheeky answer, but that’s it.

What was it like for you up on the podium?

I love the stage, so I was completely comfortable. I was aware of the crowd until the dictation read-on, at which time I went into my own world. Until it was transcription time and I had to deal with the audible interviews — then I needed to put in earplugs and put on my headphones to muffle the noise.

Was there anything that surprised you about the event?

The spirit and enthusiasm of the audience was incredible.

NCRA Convention & Expo: Academy of Professional Reporters admits 11 new Fellows

2013 Fellows

The new Fellows of the Academy of Professional Reporters are (l-r): Sue Terry, Jo Ann Betler,
Dee Boenau, Laura Brewer, Lillian Freiler, Mark Kislingbury, Adam Miller, Holly Moose, Lynette Mueller,
and (in front) Linda Sturm.

Eleven NCRA members have been awarded fellowships in the Academy of Professional Reporters, which recognizes recipients for their outstanding and extraordinary qualifications and experience. The announcement was made during a special awards ceremony held during NCRA’s Convention & Expo.

Fellowship in the Academy of Professional Reporters is a professional distinction conferred upon a person with outstanding and extraordinary qualifications and experience in the field of shorthand reporting. Candidates for Fellow are required to have been in the active practice of reporting for at least 10 years and to have attained distinction as measured by performance (which includes publication of important papers, creative contributions, service on committees or boards, teaching, and so on). They are nominated for membership by their peers.

The following are 2012-2013 Fellows.

Jo Ann Betler, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, CPE, CLVS, is an official reporter and firm owner in Huntington, W.Va. She has approximately 30 years of experience in the field. She is a past president of the West Virginia Court Reporters Association and the West Virginia Official Court Reporters Association. She has also been involved with bringing realtime to West Virginia courtrooms and mentoring local court reporting students. In addition, Betler served as an NCRA Chief Examiner and exam grader.

Deanna C. Boenau, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, is a CART provider and broadcast captioner in Sarasota, Fla., She has approximately 20 years of experience in reporting. In addition to serving NCRA as a mentor and student seminar presenter, she has participated in and won many Florida Court Reporters Association and NCRA speed and realtime competitions. She represented the United States in the world competition at Intersteno in Paris in 2011 and placed second. She has also given numerous presentations promoting the stenographic court reporting profession in person, as well as on local and national television.

Laura P. Brewer, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, is a CART provider in Los Altos, Calif. She has been in the reporting field for about 30 years. She has served extensively as a Chief Examiner and Test Advisory Committee member for both NCRA and the Court Reporters Board of California. She is a past president of the Bay Area General Reporters Association and has also served as the legislative representative for that group. She has written and spoken extensively on CART, realtime reporting, and other topics and has spent time visiting court reporting schools to encourage and educate students.

Lillian M. Freiler, RMR, CMRS, is a freelance reporter in Orwigsburg, Pa., with nearly 40 years of experience. She is the immediate past president of Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association and has served on numerous NCRA and PCRA committees, including NCRA’s National Committee of State Associations Governing Board and Nominating Committee. She has also served as a frequent seminar presenter and mentor.

Mark T. Kislingbury, RDR, CRR, is a trainer and captioner from Houston, Texas. He has been in the court reporting business for nearly 30 years. He has published numerous books and JCR articles regarding steno theory and speedbuilding and has presented numerous continuing education seminars. He has won numerous NCRA speed and realtime contests and is the current Guinness World Record holder for stenographic transcription.

Kerry J. Lange, RMR, is a freelance reporter in Sioux Falls, S.D. She has nearly 40 years of experience. She is a past president of the South Dakota Court Reporters Association and has served on numerous committees at the state level. She has been instrumental in developing, launching, and maintaining the NCRA-certified court reporting program at Colorado Technical University’s Sioux Falls campus. Lange has also acted as an NCRA Chief Examiner and mentor. She has successfully spearheaded legislative efforts on behalf of SDCRA, and is a frequent speaker for the state’s educational programs and seminars.

Adam D. Miller, RPR, CRI, CLVS, is a firm owner from Middletown, Del., who has more than 20 years of experience in the business. He is a past president of the Delaware Court Reporters Association, a former NCRA Director, and a former NCSA delegate. He currently chairs NCRF’s Angels Committee. In addition, he has served frequently as an NCRA author and seminar presenter.

Holly Moose, RDR, CRR, is a firm owner from Sausalito, Calif. She has nearly 30 years of experience in the court reporting profession. She is a past president of the Deposition Reporters Association of California and has held every position within that organization. She has also served on NCRA’s COPE Committee and has acted as COPE’s liaison to the Task Force on Contracting. She has published numerous articles for both the JCR and the DRA’s newsletter.

Lynette L. Mueller, RDR, CRR, is a freelance reporter from Germantown, Tenn. She has more than 30 years of experience. She is a current director of the Tennessee Court Reporters Association and she has volunteered hundreds of hours for TCRA and NCRA, serving on various committees and authoring numerous articles and “tech tips” for the JCR. Her committee service at the state level includes service on the TCRA membership, website, convention, education, newsletter, CCR, nominating, and scholarship/ mentoring committees.

Linda G. Sturm, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, of Columbus, Ohio, has been an NCRA member for more than 30 years. She is a past president of the Ohio Court Reporters Association and was also a long-time chair of OCRA’s certification committee. She was a leading voice for mandatory certification of court reporters in Ohio and was ultimately asked by the Supreme Court of Ohio to serve on its Task Force on the Certification of Court Reporters. She has presented seminars and written articles for NCRA, numerous state associations, as well as major law firms, bar associations, and deaf consumer groups. She developed early captioning programs in Ohio, developed and provided the state’s first university realtime program, and provided court reporting services all over the world. At OCRA’s annual conference, she was awarded the Glenn W. Stiles award.

Sue A. Terry, RPR, CRR, is a freelance reporter from Springfield, Ohio with nearly 40 years of experience. She is a past president of Ohio Court Reporters Association and serves on numerous committees at the state level. She was the recipient of Ohio’s Martin Fincun Award for outstanding service as well as the 2012 Glenn W. Stiles Distinguished Service Award. She has produced numerous seminars and articles for OCRA and NCRA and has spent time educating law firms and bar associations. She currently serves on the NCRA Board of Directors and many of its committees, including Technology Evaluation Committee and the TRAIN Task Force. She has trained and mentored numerous court reporting students throughout her career.

Brewer wins Intersteno speech capturing in stenotype

The American contingent had a strong showing at the 49th Intersteno Competition, held this year in Ghent, Belgium. Laura Brewer, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, took top honors in the Shorthand/Speech Capturing section in stenotype. Rui Wang of China placed second, and John Wissenbach, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, captured third. In addition, Patricia Nilsen, RMR, CRR, CCP, CRI, placed fourth, and Dee Boenau, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, placed fifth.

NCRA member Tori Pittman, RDR, CRI, earned first place in the Shorthand/ Speech Capturing section in speech recognition.