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NCRA - NVRA 2004

Madrid 2002

CONVENTION 2004 OF NCRA (National Court Reporters Associations) and NVRA (National Verbatim Reporters Association)

by Fausto Ramondelli

Click here for additional photos and news about the NCRA Convention

 On behalf of the Intersteno Board I have participated from July 29th to August 7th at the annual conventions of  National Court Reporters’ Association (NCRA), in Chicago, and National Verbatim Reporters’ association (NVRA), in Charleston, with the aim of favouring the relationship with professionals of USA, who represent a vanguard in reporting.

 As Virgene Biggers introduced me, I have been able to meet the new NCRA President, Duaine Smith, some other directors and representatives of the Court Reporters’ Foundation, a no profit body which is willing to find an autonomous position for carrying on plans for which does not exclude a direct cooperation with Intersteno. NCRA leaders expressed appreciation for Intersteno activity and guaranteed to improve links, starting with the presence of one of the director, Mark Golden, at the Helsinki CC meeting, together with the official delegate.

 With incredulity and bitterness we have learned that a large majority has rejected once more the amendment for admitting voice reporters as members of the NCRA. It seems that the vote has been helped by the delegates’ reaction to the further Board’s proposal of  allowing the vote for proxy in next conventions. The opinions of  reporters coming from New York and from Texas, traditionally against the voice technology, have also had a crucial weigh.

 The meeting in Chicago has enabled me to promote next Intersteno Congress in Wien, where we hope to receive further American reporters from either “side”. The circumstance that differently to the Rome congress we have not agreed on the Congress’s date and that the NCRA and NVRA conventions will take place close (one and two weeks later) to the Wien Congress will not help. It is indeed necessary that Intersteno leaders contact American colleagues in order to agree in anticipation upon the dates of next international meetings, so that they are scheduled with an at least two weeks break between each other.

 Then I flew to Charleston, South Carolina, where the voice reporters’ convention was going on. The welcome for the Intersteno representative has been very warm (as the temperature!). President Linda Drake expressed words of hope on the new relationship which will enable NVRA to improve its international attitude. The more limited audience has favoured the dialogue as well as affected the confronting, so that it was possible understanding from the live scene which are the profession’s problems, from the voice reporters’ point of view. NVRA is doing a strong action in order to make voice reporters’ rights recognized by the authorities. In fact, the technological gap is now completely consumed, since they can easily produce, for instance, the closed captioning for hearing impaired either in the TVs or in seminars, which represents a decisive test for witnessing the efficiency of technology. Of great interest are the developing steps of  programs from Advantage Software (Eclipse) and Procat (leader in the reporting field), which help the recognition and text production. It is also meaningful that these programs admit as input either shorthand machine or speech recognition. Plus, the tests (Certificate Voice Reporter and Certificate Realtime Reporter) are given at higher level of speed compared with those of  NCRA and include a “silence” skill test to proof the ability of dictating in the so called steno-mask without any noise.


 Great attention is paid – correct! – to education plans, upon which the future and success of voice technology rely. There is the awareness that the shorter time needed for learning the technique should not push to shortcuts in the training and that cultural and language skills are crucial, particularly as far as the juridical and medical terminology are concerned. It is also interesting that  Stenograph, the famous company producing steno machines, has presented its own proposals on reporters’ (not stenographers’!) education and training.

 Seems that the Chicago vote has not created particular emotion among voice reporters, apart form disappointment, of course. Many – also former stenographers and a former president of NCRA who has taken the floor - have said that it is absurd to distinguish according to the means which is used in the profession, whereas the demand of reporters is growing everywhere and the supply cannot keep up with it.

 Let’s consider that in USA 50% of States admit voice reporters as court reporters, but in the remaining States a juridical and even constitutional struggle is going on. Recently two further States have admitted voice reporters: Wisconsin (which produced a report on steno reporters’ shortage) and Utah.

 The vendors behaviours are a meaningful index. Stenograph (educational plans), Esquire Deposition (Legal and para-legal services), Advantage Software and ProCat (Computer Aided Transcription programs producers), and Audioscribe (main voice technology promoter) exhibited their products based on the reporting experience in both conventions, what means that business do not deny any opportunity, despite resistances of not wise professionals.

 It’s been said that the admittance of voice reporters as members of NCRA is rather a problem of that Association itself, whose leadership would have liked to absorb the phenomenon. Voice reporters on their side are tuning the quality of their skills, that nowadays represent a valuable alternative solution. Besides, admittance could determine a loss of identity and a lower push for voice technology. For such reason many have sincerely welcomed the Chicago vote.

My speech in Charleston has been received with great interest (see speech on other page). I met Judith Marcowitz, consultant in the voice technology field who expressed deep and interesting arguments, explain that instead than fearing new technologies and imagining that they can negatively affect out profession, we must catch the positive elements of evolution, which open new opportunities for all professionals.

I have expressed to NVRA directors the consideration of Intersteno for their activity, which is correctly oriented toward international fellows, as it is demonstrated by the Dave Rogala proposal of changing the name of the association, in order to introduce the reference to the international movement of reporting, or the interest showed for opening contacts with the South American reporters, where either for the language (Spanish is very well recognized by the speech recognition engines) or for the technological transition expected in that area, we can see many traces of business development for reporters and companies. In such a direction the renewed relationship between Intersteno and FIAT (Federation Ibero-Americana de Taquigrafos, which will meet in Punta de l’Este, Uruguay, next November) will have an indubitable  value.

 Together with President and other directors of NVRA we have conveyed upon few initiatives that I put forward the Intersteno Board and Central Committee, for a discussion before the Wien Congress in July 2005, an event for which NVRA has guaranteed the largest promotion and the participation at the highest level.

 Above all the idea of holding in Wien the tests to be passed for being Certificated as a Verbatim Reporter, that in USA allows to access the court reporter profession. NVRA will hold the same test for international voice reporter, as far as they are using a silencer for dictating. In such a way a Intersteno NVRA certification will be awarded.

In the same direction is the proposal of giving in charge to NVRA the organization of Intersteno shorthand competition with speech recognition: I have anticipated that it is my intention to propose Intersteno to foresee separate rooms for speech and shorthand machine competitors, so not to give any reason for raising struggles about noisy dictation which could damage the Intersteno credibility. In such case two different dictation will be done, with reciprocal checks, besides the international one. Details are to be decided on suggestion of the International Jury after the Helsinki meeting.

A NVRA representative, the brilliant Dave Rogala, will attend the Helsinki CC meeting. He will shortly present NVRA and will start entering in the Intersteno atmosphere.
Chad Theriot, of Audioscribe, assumed the duty to address the Intersteno Congress with a lecture on the following topics: the speech recognition frontier, how the program Eclipse affect the speech recognition, the educational plans in USA and the expansion of profession in USA.

Ultime dagli Stati Uniti - Convention NCRA

Karla Wollin Boyer è ancora una volta la campionessa nazionale americana di ripresa del parlato consacrata nelle gare che si sono svolte a Chicago nell’ambito della annuale Convention della NCRA, l’Associazione americana dei resocontisti stenografi. Questa volta Karla ha ottenuto il primo posto del podio non solo nella tradizionale competizione di velocità ma anche nella gara di ripresa in real time.
Si tratta di un risultato che conferma la bravura e la tenacia pluridecennale di questa professionista che da molti anni onora anche le gare internazionali organizzate dall’Intersteno.

L’incontro di Chicago, al quale partecipano circa 2000 soci, ha affrontato, fra l’altro, anche la spinosa questione dell’ammissione quali membri dell’associazione dei resocontisti che usano il riconoscimento del parlato. Purtroppo, malgrado il parere favorevole sostenuto dal gruppo dirigente, ha prevalso ancora una volta la linea della chiusura. L’ala più conservatrice, che preferisce l’isolamento rispetto ai colleghi che utilizzano il riconoscimento del parlato, ha respinto l’emendamento con 309 voti contro 151 voti favorevoli.

Il deludente risultato sarà senz’altro commentato, la prossima settimana, a Charleston (Nord Carolina), dove si apriranno le assise della Associazione nazionale dei resocontisti vocali, appunto. Lì si potranno vedere da vicino anche gli sviluppi della tecnologia dedicate al riconoscimento del parlato e la diffusione di questo metodo a livello di formazione e di professione. È interessante che molti degli espositori presenti a Chicago (Stenograph, Procat, Eclipse) parteciperanno anche alla convention di Charleston, segno che gli affari per fortuna hanno una flessibilità e un intuito maggiori.

L’Intersteno ha inviato il Vice Presidente, Fausto Ramondelli, a partecipare alle due manifestazioni per testimoniare l’interesse e la considerazione a livello internazionale verso questi eventi di rilievo nel panorama della resocontazione che, nel bene e nel male, trova negli Stati Uniti un punto sicuro di avanguardia e di stabilità.

Foto di Fausto Ramondelli - 30 luglio 2004 cliccare qui per ulteriori informazioni e foto sulla convention NCRA
Gli applausi alla vincitrice in occasione della cena di gala. Spicca l'elegante e sgargiante mise di Michael Rodriquez, sempre presente anche ai Congressi Intersteno.




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