Way back in 2006, I was just starting my second year of steno school when the NCRA convention came to New York City. I got myself a student membership and had a fantastic time. Over that weekend I schmoozed at the Friday night CART/Captioning reception, attended a number of interesting seminars (including the one where I learned the OEU diphthong trick as an all-purpose wildcard for briefs, which has proven absolutely invaluable over the years), had lunch with the legendary Ed Varallo, and got a small but tantalizing taste of what my future professional life might look like. I've often joked that being a realtime captioner among court reporters is like being a tailor among barbers; they both use scissors and we both use steno machines, but we all do substantially different jobs. While many seminars at NCRA conventions focus on things like transcript preparation, negotiating with law firms, advocating for official reporters in the courtroom, and other legal-heavy subjects, there tends to be a dearth of captioner-specific material. I went to the national convention in Nashville in 2013 and to TechCon in Atlanta last year, but each time most of the seminars related to CART and captioning were focused on basic 101-level "how do I stream text to clients", or "how can I switch from depo reporting to captioning" sorts of subjects.
Early this spring, I put in two proposals to speak at the 2015 NCRA convention, which will be coming back around to my own home town. The first was an introduction to The Open Steno Project, talking about our ethos, our current offerings, and our plans for the future. The NCRA didn't go for that one, so I decided to register the OSP as an exhibitor in the expo hall. Josh Lifton, my original cofounder and inventor of the Stenosaurus, will be there helping to man the table, and we're hoping we might get a sneak preview of a working Stenosaurus to show off to interested visitors. Today I ordered Open Steno Project badge ribbons and brochures, and I'm really excited to start getting the word out.
My other proposed session was accepted! It's called Advanced Topics in CART (Saturday from 4:00 to 5:30 on the Realtime Track), and I see it primarily as a roundtable discussion on everything that reaches beyond the elementary topics discussed at length in previous years. Everyone is welcome to sit in -- students, aspiring captioners, new professionals, and anyone else who's interested -- but I'd mostly like to hear from experienced captioners and CART providers who want to exchange ideas, ask questions, and solve problems collaboratively among their colleagues.
Over the next few weeks, I'm hoping compile a list of topics to kick off the session. For example:
* How to behave when hired to caption a conference proactively and not for the sake of any particular deaf or hard of hearing attendee. Is it appropriate to make jokes in the captioning stream when presenters try to interact with you? Should you advocate for the benefits of proactive captioning while on the clock?
* How to balance a mixed roster of onsite and remote work, or of work obtained through agencies versus directly contracted with clients.
* Steno students and captioning interns: Are they welcome in classrooms and workplaces of deaf/HoH clients?
* How to describe the differences between CART and non-verbatim methods such as Typewell and C-Print in a respectful and accurate way to potential clients.
* Changing trends in the field and what we can look forward to in the future.
So those are some items off the top of my head. Can you think of any more? I'd like to get a fair number of them, so I can have a few to choose from on the day of the roundtable. Please share this post with any CART Providers and captioners you might know; I'd love to hear from all of them.
Oh, and if you attend the CART/Captioning reception on Friday night, please come up and say hi! I'm really, really excited to have such a huge concentration of awesome steno people in my city this month. It's gonna be a blast.