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President's Message - June 2017
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President's Message

by Geoffrey L. Hunt

I am writing my last President’s Message before our annual conference in Atlanta. I hope many of you can attend. Mike Tannen, Executive Director, and his team have put together a blockbuster program. Attendees will have the best opportunity all year to network, gain valuable CEUs, and learn new skills. Don’t miss it.

Several of the presenters this year will be speaking about the freelance side of the court reporting trade. Seventy-two percent of the total court reporting market is on the freelance side. That market has typically been dominated by the stenotype court reporter. As the projected number of stenos decline, there is a tremendous opportunity for electronic reporters and transcribers to penetrate this lucrative sector.

A lot has been happening over the past year. Your Board of Directors and committee chairs have been hard at work promoting AAERT and what we stand for.

Last fall, our white paper, “Analysis and Advantages of Digital Court Reporting and Recording in the Courts, Deposition, and Administrative Hearings Markets”, was published. This detailed paper provides extensive research into the advantages of electronic court reporting. It is a valuable tool that pulls together factual information from across the industry. Now the judiciary and legal communities have one comprehensive document that dispels the criticisms yet supports and promotes the electronic court reporting community.

I am happy to report that electronic reporting has achieved several milestones this past year. We now have our first brick and mortar school teaching electronic reporting and transcription at the Tidewater Community College. Many thanks to Tonie Wallace for an incredible effort in making this achievement possible. With the launch of our Learning Management System (LMS) on our website, members have affordable access to necessary Continuing Education Credits (CEUs). Our membership continues to grow, and our certifications are recognized in an increasing number of states.

While being a director and officer for AAERT, it has been one of my goals to listen to what the membership needs and to help them achieve their goals as practically and economically as possible. To that end, we have made certification testing and Continuing Education Units more accessible and inexpensive.

Our certification process now provides remote access to testing and continues to make our certifications more easily attainable. Members no longer need to travel great distances that cost time and money to test. This year, K.C. Corbin, CER, CET and her Certification Committee continued to improve the certification process. When they were pressed with increased certifications for the Massachusetts demand, her committee stepped up to successfully meet the challenge. Looking ahead, K.C. strives to improve the process with new tests, implement a goal of two-week turnaround for test results, and research new platforms for testing.

Continuing Education Credits are now available on our website. Members who require CEUs to maintain their certifications need to take advantage of these excellent programs. The seminars cover all aspects of court reporting and transcription. They are easy to use, inexpensive, and will help you accumulate your required CEUs. Betsy Ertel, Education Chairperson, is continuing to add to the content of our LMS platform.

Education of our members is a critical component of the services we provide. A more educated court reporter can become a certified and highly skilled professional. The Education Committee is creating more video seminars that will focus on preparing for our certification tests.

Since our last conference, the board has initiated a program called “The Four Disciplines of Execution” (4DX). 4DX is a proven execution framework that helps organizations of all sizes set realistic goals, plan appropriate activities, and measure progress on a consistent basis. If you run a small business and struggle to achieve your “Wildly Important Goals” (WIGs), you should buy or download a copy of the book from Amazon. It really is a great program.

Steve Townsend, our current Vice President, has been coordinating the implementation of 4DX with the board and with each of our committees. So far, our Government Relations Committee (Rick Russell, Chair) and our Education Committee (Betsy Ertel, Chair) have put the program in place and they are working hard to help AAERT achieve our “Wildly Important Goal” of increasing the number of AAERT certified professionals across the U.S. Stay tuned for increased progress in 2017.

The Government Relations Committee has had a busy year. In the fall, they released our white paper. Earlier this year, AAERT certifications were accepted by the Office of Transcript Services for the state of Massachusetts. Rick and his committee were there to answer questions and provide information when needed.

Our Membership Committee, chaired by Jen Metcalf Razzino, CER, continues their efforts to increase membership. Emails and phone calls have gone out to new and old members. A survey on our membership, as well as a membership drive, are in the works. While other national court reporting associations’ membership numbers are plunging, ours continues to grow.

Gail Armstrong, CER, CET assumed the chair for the Communications Committee this past year. In August of 2016, the Communications Committee implemented the new monthly newsletter format. The newsletter was renamed Sound Bytes. The purpose of a monthly newsletter is to keep in regular contact with our membership, offer them a mix of news items, tech links, and articles written by members. The newsletter includes regular features by AAERT's Directors and Committee Chairs. To date we have sent out 10 monthly newsletters. The Communications Committee is always looking for fresh content and aspiring writers.

The website continues to make us proud with its new upscale appearance. Content, links, and member benefits have been added to the site. Our Learning Management System offers many opportunities for members to earn CEUs at their own pace and at a time convenient to them.

AAERT's Facebook pages include 705 members between the two pages. WordPress, Pinterest, and Twitter keep the ball rolling and keep our members informed and connected. We average about 100 posts a month to our Facebook pages. Follow the links that can be found on our homepage. They contain a treasure trove of news from the legal world. My sincere thanks and appreciation goes out to Gail and her committee for keeping us informed and in touch with each other.

Thanks to all of our committee chairs, Mike Tannen, CSEP, Sherry Simmons, CER and Maria Tannen for their hard work and dedication to our cause. Without them, none of what we accomplish would be possible.

I think that you will agree with me when I say that the electronic reporting and transcription profession and AAERT have a promising future. The recording technology that we use continues to improve. In the 1990s, speech recognition was becoming a useful tool for court reporters. Tools like this will soon be available to the courts and electronic court reporters alike.

From small beginnings, AAERT has blazed the trail on behalf of digital reporting and transcribing technology. It is important for us to keep foremost in mind that we set the standard for electronic reporting and transcription. AAERT is now the recognized expert in the digital recording field. As the courts and freelance markets increase their use of our services, we must maintain our standards through best practices and certification. As we do so, we will continue to be the gold standard of our profession.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you this past year.


President, AAERT



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