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While those of us who provide shorthand court reporting services in Ontario often feel undervalued and our livelihood threatened at every turn, it was refreshing and energizing to attend this year’s conference in San Francisco, California, over the first few days in August. To be among over 1,100 attendees is in itself a wonderful reminder of what our profession has given, and continues to give: friendship, networking, learning, laughter and more than a few “ah-ha” moments.

Watching the new board be installed at Friday’s premier session was really tremendous; we are now led by the youngest ever president in the history of NCRA, 35 year old Sarah Nagoette. Over 100 students were in attendance. I saw several court reporting colleagues from both Toronto and Ottawa.

The focus of NCRA is to get as many new reporters into the field as we can in the next five years. Demographically, the association’s mean age is 55 years old. Within the next six plus years, court reporting will face a shortage of qualified guardians of the record as older reporters begin to retire and leave the profession. To that end, I was pleased to meet with my Canadian provincial counterparts from both B.C. and Alberta, and together we are hoping to persuade NAIT, the only college in Canada that consistently produces excellent, qualified new reporters, to open up to distance learning through the internet, and enabling Canadians from across the country to eventually become certified shorthand court reporters or CART/captioning providers.
One of the other highlights of our convention was the vendor area. It’s truly wonderful to have in one place court reporter technology, supplies, software and hardware, and even the latest and greatest carry-bags (and yes, I have now purchased my tenth bag for all my equipment; I am always on a quest for the best bag on the planet).

I can’t recommend highly enough the experience of an NCRA conference for any working reporter or student; you will walk away feeling re-energized, excited about our profession and feeling like you are a part of something bigger than you perhaps ever imagined.