January 2020: A New Year, A New Chapter in our book & Houston Captioner Keeps the World up to Speed!
Monthly meetings every 2nd Saturday of the month.
This month's meeting will be held on Saturday, January 11th, 2020 at 9:30 am
We now meet at St. Luke Presbyterian Church
8915 Timberside Drive Houston, Texas 77025
(Visible from Bethany Methodist parking lot.)
Our speakers for January,
Enriqueta Martinez & Cosette Critelli
To celebrate the new year, 2020, Our Treasurer, Enriqueta Martinez, and Media Management Director, Cosette Critelli present to you the State of the Chapter. This meeting is focused on the current placement of the Houston Chapter regarding what data we have collected from the past year. Join us to learn more about the "fun" in "fundraising" and the digital side of you local HLAA group. This Mother Daughter team is looking forward to helping you understand and go in-depth about what goes on in the Houston chapter as well as answering your questions. See you there!
Our Chapter Board Members
Jan Connolly President email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Allan Ofield Past President email: email@example.com
Enriqueta Martinez Treasurer email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Quinlan Secretary email: email@example.com
Teri Wathen Advisor email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lois Johnson Advisor email: email@example.com
Have a very blessed and empowering new year from all of us!
Below is the link for the Citywide PIP Meeting January 14th, 2020 Video Flyer. See you on January 14th & Happy New Year From PIP!
the local news are receiving emails from the Houston community about providing a live captioner for their channel instead of speech processed captions. Meanwhile, here is a brilliant captioner providing this very much needed task all around the world!
Article to read
From The Houston Chronicle
When Marie Bryant first encountered stenography in community college, she never imagined the profession would take her to Japan, Italy and Scotland, give her a prime seat at Super Bowls and Final Fours, or that her work would be enshrined in a presidential library.
Bryant also knew no one who was hard of hearing when she transitioned from court reporting to realtime captioning upon her return to Texas 18 years ago, but advocates say she has become a crucial resource for Houston’s disability community, particularly as an aging population spurs the need for a broader understanding of the value of captioning.
Bryant has captioned government meetings, performances at Miller Outdoor Theater and other venues, the rodeo and every local professional sports team’s games, as well as weddings, worship services and funerals, including that of former first lady Barbara Bush, a transcript of which is in the George H. W. Bush presidential library.
Her work also involves captioning college lectures, medical appointments and video conference calls for individual clients with hearing loss.
The Corpus Christi native enjoyed her 15 years in Savannah, Ga., taking legal depositions, but is pleased her captioning work in Houston has taken on a more service-minded focus. She even dropped the stone-face demeanor expected of court reporters at the urging of advocates, who noted that American Sign Language interpreters use facial expressions to help convey meaning.
“It became more personal,” she said. “The hearing impaired people wanted to see us have more reaction, enjoy what we’re listening to, or singing or laughing. It’s OK to laugh along.”
Bryant’s brand of captioning is formally known as CART - Communication Access Realtime Translation, which is listed in the Americans with Disabilities Act as a reasonable accommodation for those with hearing loss.
Federal data show about 15 percent of American adults report some trouble hearing, though only 15 percent of those respondents report having used hearing aids. Age remains the strongest predictor of hearing loss.
"Such statistics underscore the importance of Bryant’s work and of the need to recruit more people to pursue captioning as a career, particularly as the Baby Boom generation ages", said Maria Town, director of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.
"The demand for CART writers often outstrips the supply in Houston", Town said, adding that she sees more young people interested in learning sign language than captioning.
"This is partly because people assume captions are automated", Town said, "noting that attendees at her events will say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” into the microphone just to watch the word appear."
“And in my head I'm like, ‘You're being so obnoxious to Beverly, who's having to type that out,’” Town said. “We should be investing in automation so that we can have captioning everywhere, but there are certain things that people can do that computers can't. It would be my hope that more younger people say, ‘I want to do that.’”
Bryant, similarly concerned about a lack of qualified captioners and an aging workforce in her field, has joined the recruiting committee of her trade association and helped advocate for a new six-week stenography training program at the University of Houston-Downtown.
Automation also has a long way to go to replace human captioners. Deaf activists, for example, have launched a campaign to improve the automated text found on YouTube videos, dubbing it “craptions.”
‘Council Member Bicycle’
For many jobs, Bryant takes a six-foot red LED display bar wide enough for two lines of text and places it atop a stand anchored with sandbags, then fires up her laptop and steno machine. Typically, she has researched the event, speaker and topic ahead of time, programming in names or, in the instance of a NASA lecturer, the names of space missions.
Only 21 letters and an asterisk appear on the steno keyboard, and some are listed twice. But single keystrokes, including on the cracks between keys, can produce multiple letters -- such as “ing,” “ed,” and “tion.” A bit of programming can help even more, allowing common phrases like “ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” “by and large” and “correct me if I’m wrong” to display quickly.
At City Hall, the mayor’s standard recitation with the passage of each routine agenda item — “Favoring? Opposed? Granted” — is produced when Bryant types FOG. The ubiquitous “thank you, mayor,” is TUM*.
This autocorrect on steroids, which interprets the pauses between keystrokes, is not universally helpful, however.
Mistimed key punches have sent Hebrew text from Bryant’s work at synagogues across the city council screens, for instance. A friend describing himself as a “fun guy” in a speech became a “fungi.”
“I have the hardest time writing ‘Boykins,’” Bryant said. “If you watch the TV, half the time you’ll see ‘Council Member Bicycle’ because BOYK is ‘bicycle.’”
If Bryant has a nemesis of sorts at City Hall, it is the gregarious Councilman Bicycle — more commonly known as Dwight Boykins, who represents District D in south Houston.
“He starts talking and then shoots off over here and then comes back over here; you have to pick out these little phrases to finish his sentence. Dash — here it goes — dash — there he goes — dash. And he jokes around so much,” Bryant said, shaking her head. “Not only are we trying to keep up, we’re trying to be accurate, we’re trying to punctuate in our head.”
Informed of Bryant’s comments, Boykins laughed and said, “So, I was No. 1, huh?”
“I’m glad she can follow my diction, my jargon, my slang, and bring it all home,” he said. “I really admire her. I watch it, as a matter of fact, when others are speaking, and they do an excellent job keeping up.”
Broader need unmet
Bryant is formally certified at 260 words per minute, and has reached a pace of 300 wpm. The minimum to become a court reporter is 225.
“Marie, to me, is the best in Houston. She's fast and she's accurate,” said Teri Wathen, a retired hearing loss resource specialist who wears two cochlear implants and whose husband, sons and grandsons have hearing loss. “If she sees a mistake and if she has a second to go back and correct it, she will.”
Town echoed that praise, as did Councilwoman Ellen Cohen, who said it is obvious to her when it is Bryant’s day off at City Hall. Cohen began losing her hearing about 30 years ago and, in combination with her hearing aids, relies on Bryant’s captions to follow the proceedings.
Cohen said it is surprising to her that more of the civic events and luncheons she attends, put on by large charities and clubs, do not provide captioning.
“It's enormously important,” the councilwoman said. “When I'm going places, restaurants, even the theater, I think about, ‘Am I going to be close enough to hear?’ I go to a lot of lunches, a lot of events where there are speakers in the front. And I probably get about 70 percent.”
That few such gatherings feature captioning is a hurdle of awareness that advocates like Town and Wathen have spent years trying to overcome.
Some event organizers are preoccupied with the aesthetics of scrolling text or are unfamiliar with how to add the service to their events, advocates said. Small groups may struggle to pay the cost — typically a few hundred dollars, depending on the length and time of the event.
Others remain unaware of the possibility of captioning or its value. Cohen recalled an irritating debate over whether captions on movie screens were “too distracting.”
“For something here that I was working on, folks didn't want to caption a video because it would make the screen too busy,” Town said. “I just had to say, ‘No, it won’t.’ That's the level of conversation we're having.”
Another challenge is structural. Many folks know little of the disability community when they join it by default as their hearing declines, and some do not advocate for themselves because acknowledging hearing loss can mean confronting one’s own mortality.
“How much better would their experience be if we created moments where they didn’t have to worry about that?” Town said.
Wathen, whose advocacy convinced the leaders of her synagogue to hire Bryant to caption worship services, repeatedly has seen fellow congregants’ eyes dart over to check the captions.
“We need more people to advocate and more people to ask the different venues for the accommodation,” she said. “I tell them, ‘You're not doing this just for me. This is for everybody.’ People don't know that it's available and they don't know they need it.”
Article to read
From The Houston Chronicle
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This concludes our January E-newsletter of 2020!
A special thank you and Happy New Year to the readers and sponsors supporting the HLAA Houston chapter.
2020 is here. We are turning the page to a new chapter in our book at HLAA Houston! Will you help us write our story?
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