Skip to content

Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART)

In the late 1990’s, I heard about Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) through people on my SWC list. (Sometimes called real-time captioning.) I understood the concept but I didn’t fully get it. I knew it was an accommodation but I lived in small towns and no one else had heard of it so it wasn’t option. Still, I knew the CART was out there somewhere.

Courtesy of Caption First

After I moved to Salt Lake City in 2009, I looked up Self Help For the Hard of Hearing (SHHH) and in the process found out they changed their name to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). The local chapter held it’s meetings at the Sanderson Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The local HLAA chapter website showed CART was used at their meetings. Hooray! I’d finally get to experience it.

When I walked into my first meeting, I saw a screen pulled down, a projector hooked up to a laptop, and the laptop hooked up to a funny little machine on a stand.  A lady sat near the wall, her hands resting on the steno machine ready to go. Test words were up on the screen and I couldn’t wait to see it in action.

The meeting started and words appeared on the screen following the conversation. Immediately, I fell in love with CART. Even though I wore FM system, I still missed words and sometimes important key words. CART filled in the gaps and I never had to wonder what I missed. It was one of those personal, historic moments in my life.  It was a magical experience for a hard of hearing person who has always struggled to hear in group situations. Real-time captioning felt like a godsend.

Since then, I haven’t missed many meetings. I’m going to take advantage of CART all I can because for so many years I went without. All the workshops at the Sanderson Center have CART as needed (ASL interpreters too) so I go to many of them as well. It’s an all inclusive environment for those of us who have hearing loss or deafness. Every time I walk into the Center, the load I carry on my shoulders lightens considerably. I know I will hear. I won’t be lost in lectures and presentations. It’s the one place, I don’t have to worry about asking for repeats, because it’s right up there on screen for me.

As I got comfortable at meetings and got to know people, I also got to know our CART provider. Julia is one awesome lady and we all appreciate what she does for us so much. One night, I stopped for a closer look at her stenography machine and realized it wasn’t a keyboard I was familiar with at all. I don’t know how she does it and my admiration for her and what she does went up a few more notches. That’s a crazy machine she works on but she puts it together nicely.

There’s a few typos now and then. Most typos I read right through but some make me smile. When she sees me smiling, she looks down at her lap top screen to see what came out and either smiles, rolls her eyes or both.  Some of them are just like what I’d hear if I didn’t know any better. One day during an Alzheimer’s workshop, she typed “farm suit call” and if I said it fast enough, I knew exactly what she meant, “pharmaceutical.” Thanks to the rest of her captioning, I knew the context of what we were talking about so I wasn’t lost. (That typo still makes me smile.) I think she’s one of the most wonderful people on earth and I’m thankful for her, and people like her, who provide services for us.

Many people haven’t experienced CART, maybe because they live in small towns like I did or maybe they never knew it existed. We had a Walk4Hearing meeting the other night so  I snapped a few pictures for people to get a general idea.

Our CART provider who has a concentration look much like we do when we are listening to others.

How she does it, I’ll never know.

Letter and background colors can be changed.

Our guest speaker was Ronnie Adler, national administrator for the Walk4Hearing.  She flew in from Philly and to help us with our Walk.  You can see her talking and the screen behind her, showing CART.

So now you’re seen it.  Maybe you can experience it in person all well.  If you come to the Salt Lake City SWC convention, you’ll get to experience it  in our workshops.  Not only that, but we have John Waldo speaking at our banquet about captioning.

For more information check out these websites…

Communication Access Information Center:

For a listing of CART providers, the Collaborative for Communication Access via Captioning website has a state by state listing of CART providers. Be sure to read the rest of CCAC’s website for good information on access as well.

0 thoughts on “Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART)”

  1. It is wonderful to go to these meetings and feel like you fit right in. My first experience with CART was over twelve years ago. It rocked my world. I will never forget it!

Leave a Reply