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Captioning Community

Captioning Corner: Choosing a Seminar

By Deanna Baker

A reader wrote, Four captioning seminars are offered in the JCR. How do I know which one I should go to?

I asked the four companies advertising in the JCR to respond to the question, and these are their responses. This information should not be considered a critical review of the seminars, as the information is coming directly from the seminar vendors. Keep in mind, too, that there may be alternative seminars that are not advertising in the JCR, so this should only be the first step in your research. [Ed. Note: NCRA and the JCR do not endorse any vendors, nor do we make any claims regarding the quality of the seminars.]

Judy Brentano of CaptionMasters provides us with the following information:

Our four-day training is taught like a college course. The hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day, expect on Sunday when we adjourn at 3 p.m. for folks to make flights home. We recess about every 55 minutes for a short respite; the longest session is 1.5 hours. We mix lecture with a lot of hands-on work.

We lay a foundation the first morning with CART and the psychology of the disability community, and we start with easier writing exercises, with an entre into dictionary development. As we move to captioning, we cover a brief history, and go straight into broadcast production. We cover dictionary development and management in detail. Anissa Nierenberger of Dictionary Jumpstart will be joining us to cover a hands-on portion with her product. We cover all types of topical writing using multimedia presentations.

Equipment for remote captioning will be covered and Eclipse has signed on to demo and explain AccuCap software and the special features inherent in captioning software.

Our writing exercises cover news, teleconference material, sports, shopping, weather, etc.

Our manual is about 350 pages of information, but we will be streamlining it for the 2004 workshops to cut down the size and weight of it! Folks hated packing it in their suitcases for the trip home.

Our 3-month home-study covers one assignment per month, with weekly monitoring and a final test with each.

To pre-qualify, we will send you a CD with audio dictation. You realtime the exercise and return the CD along with your paper notes and a printout of the rough draft. Then we contact you with results. The Web site registration is active, and the prequalification sign up is $250. If one does not pass, $200 is immediately refunded.

Our Web site is Be sure to read the testimonials from our grads. Registration is online for each site.

Enrollment is ongoing now. We have had 145 reporters go through our program. Not all chose to become captioners. Those that did not felt they improved their skills and their on-the-job performance tremendously.

Anita Paul Seminars
Anita Paul Johnston provided this information about the Anita Paul Workshops.

Our training is still focused on improving and perfecting realtime skills at all levels, from beginning to advanced. We address conflicts, prefixes, suffixes, punctuation, numbers, alphabets, and realtime techniques, "Smart Strokes," in addition to advanced learning techniques, CRR review, and a mock CRR test. We also discuss career opportunities in the courts, depos, CART, broadcast captioning, etc.

Our training is hands-on (if possible; however, people may attend even if they don't bring a computer) and we offer an easy payment plan. We are entering our twelfth year of these trainings, and about 90 percent of our students are from word-of-mouth.

To sign up for this seminar, contact Anita Johnston, President of Anita Paul International, in Las Vegas, Nev., at               702-240-8455         702-240-8455 or More information is available on her Web site at
Charlyn Whitlock of Duncan Captioning provided information for You can contact her at for more information.

In our seminar, attendees are provided the opportunity to learn from a working realtime captioner, Erin K. Duncan, in a fun, informative, and interactive setting. Erin was a freelance reporter prior to becoming a realtime captioner and therefore knows all too well what's involved in making this transition and is willing to share this process with others.

Erin routinely captions international news, international sports, various city government meetings, Microsoft meetings, and the Seattle SuperSonics basketball games. She has provided captioning for programs such as CNBC, "Friends," the "Today Show," "Grand Ole Opry," "Life and Times," the Golden Globes, "CMT Flameworthy Video Music Awards," and recently the San Francisco mayoral inauguration, just to name a few.

She provides detailed information regarding how the captioning industry works, what is involved in setting up a home office, what equipment and software are necessary and how the various components work together, what the differences are between working as an employee versus working as an independent contractor, how to brief and other "tricks of the trade," and how to strive for a perfect show. In the workshop portion (the second day), she also gives the attendees strategies for practicing at home once the seminar is over and for knowing when one is ready to approach a captioning company for that first on-the-air program.

Erin is a knowledgeable, enthusiastic, intelligent, and funny woman who everyone relates to and enjoys, and numerous attendees from each seminar stay in touch with her on a routine basis, providing her with updates on their progress, long after the seminar is over. Erin and the seminars have received very positive feedback from past attendees, with many of them stating, "this was the best seminar I've ever been to."

California Captioning Services
Katherine Parker-Rijke, CSR, RMR, CRR, CBC, is the director of California Captioning Services and works with Don Rombach, director of training. Parker-Rijke provided this information on their seminar.

I have been a California CSR since 1975. In addition to providing realtime and daily transcripts in a computer-integrated courtroom (CIC) in the Los Angeles Superior Court, I have taught stenotype theory and speedbuilding to court reporting students, and developed a training program for notereaders in the late '70s.

In 1997 I began my transition into broadcast captioning and worked for three years as a part-time captioner while maintaining my full-time position as an L.A. official. In January 2001, I took the plunge and retired from the court to become a full-time captioner working remotely from my home.

My captioning experience includes national and local news, weather, home shopping, city council meetings, state legislative sessions, PBS programming, and Internet Webstreaming.

Don Rombach, CSR, RPR, the director of training at California Captioning Services, has 14 years of broadcast captioning experience. He has developed training materials for realtime captioner training, and over the past 10 years, he has trained over 100 working captioners, one of whom is Katherine Parker-Rijke.

As a consultant to captioning companies, Don's contributions include the coordination of Quality Review Boards, which have been responsible for heightening caption quality awareness, monitoring of on-air broadcasts, and reviewing captioners' work.

His captioning experience includes the U.S. House of Representatives, the Olympics, the Academy Awards, national and local news, sports, and home shopping.

Some of the highlights of our program are the following:

  1. California Captioning Services (CCS) students had a 100 percent pass rate on the NCRA November 1, 2003, Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC) Written Knowledge Test, and four of the eight new CBCs in California are CCS graduates.
  2. Graduates of CCS's program receive a 10 percent discount on Rapid Text's Rapid Caption software, which essentially pays for the training program.
  3. Students may choose to participate in the program either onsite or offsite through interactive live videoconferencing, which saves the cost of transportation and hotels.
  4. The training program is open to stenotypist realtime writers at all levels, from the court reporting student to the proficient realtime writer in the legal environment. It is designed to guide, direct, and train our students to become broadcast captioners, irrespective of their entry-level skills.
  5. Our program is not a crash course. The program is designed to accommodate the busy schedules of the working reporter. There is a minimum of one month in between classes to allow the students ample opportunity to absorb the information presented, complete the course work, and apply the new captioning techniques they have learned.
  6. Instructors are available on an ongoing basis at no extra charge to our students, both past and present, to answer their questions and offer guidance.
  7. Students receive in-depth reviews of their live captioning broadcast simulations and critiques of their writing skills.

For training dates and enrollment information, visit our Web site at or call               949-888-4763         949-888-4763.

I hope that this information helps you make your decision.

About the Author

Deanna Baker, RMR, is from Flagstaff, Ariz. If you have a question about captioning, you can ask her at