What is CART and FAQ’s – Find a CART Provider

FAQ about CART (real time captioning)

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What is CART?
The photo shows CART in action at the United Nations in New York (provided by c2ccaptioning.com). Text is displayed for all to see by the CART professional who is translating speech-to-text immediately and accurately due to special skills, training, and experience. It’s used in many places, yet missing in too many more! 
CART is an acronym that stands for Communication Access Realtime Translation.  It is a speech-to-text interpreting service for anyone who needs communication access, for any important large audience, for having a record of proceedings, and more.
CART also benefits people who have a hearing loss, are deafened or deaf, and many others due to different language and learning needs. Even with other technologies, captioning benefits all in any group who can read (e..g even with hearing aids, implants, and loops, captioning serves all). CART is also referred to as realtime captioning.

How much does this service cost? The costs of CART services range from $60/hour up to $200/hour, depending on many different factors, such as output method, equipment involved, the type of event, the experience of the CART provider and whether the service is onsite or remote.

Why do we need it? CART provides many benefits, including equal communication access, independence, freedom, confidence, anonymity, full participation and independent understanding.

How does it work? The CART provider receives an audio feed.  Using a steno machine and cutting-edge software, CART providers “write” on their steno machine using phonetic shorthand that they have gone to school to learn.  The phonetic shorthand is then translated against the CART provider’s dictionary.  The software finds the associated word in the dictionary with the phonetic shorthand stroke written on the steno machine, translating instantaneously into English. CART providers can be certified to type up to 260 words per minute with 98% accuracy and above.

There are many ways to view the streaming text provided by the CART provider.  If the CART provider is onsite with the consumer, the realtime text can be viewed on a laptop.  The text can be projected onto a screen as well.  Another display option is an LED board, which can display up to three lines of text and is supported by a large tripod.  The streaming text can also be viewed on many smart phones or on the web.  The CART provider will provide the consumer an email with a link to view the streaming text.  There are many programs that can be used, but the consumer requires no special software to view the text.

(On the NCRA web: providers manual: http://ncraonline.org/Communities/CART/providers/manual/default.htm)

Can we have the service performed remotely? CART can be used very effectively remotely.  The consumer would need a wireless microphone, an Internet connection and a computer.  The receiver for the wireless microphone is plugged into the consumer’s laptop.  The speaker wears the wireless microphone, which allows the CART provider to hear everything that is said.  The text is then streamed from the CART provider’s computer through the Internet and displayed on the consumer’s computer screen.

Can I have a demonstration?  Most CART companies love to provide demonstrations. The value of CART is appreciated and understood much more once it’s seen in action!

What is the minimum equipment needed? If you are interested in the remote CART service, you need an audio source for the CART provider, which could be voice over IP, commonly referred to as VoIP, which requires a wireless microphone or a telephone line.  You also need to have an Internet connection and computer or smart phone.  If you are looking for onsite CART, your CART provider may be able to provide all of the equipment needed.  If you want it projected onto a big screen, it would require a projector and a screen.

Who pays for this?  There are several laws related to CART and the requirements to provide it. The venue you are interested in will determine which law would be applicable and who is responsible for the payment of the service.  The laws that deal directly with communication access include:  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the ADA, IDEA amendments of 1997, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

(see Breaking Down Laws Applicable to CART)

Do I get an electronic copy of the transcription at the end?  The CART provider has the capability to provide you with a copy of the streaming text.  The decision to provide a transcript depends on its use and effectiveness and should be decided in advance.

 Do I own the copy of the transcript? The party who hires the CART company to provide services owns the transcript.  The transcript should not be disseminated or distributed without the consent of the hiring party.

What happens if I do not provide it?  Am I violating any law?  Not providing equal communication access could be a violation of the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and IDEA.

Are there any government grants to cover these expenses?  Under the ADA, Rehabilitation Act and the IDEA, the cost of the service is to be covered by the entity that is putting on the event where CART is being provided, unless they can show that the expense of providing the service would be an undue burden.

Why can’t we just provide ASL interpreters for everyone?   According to the Centers for Disease Control,there are approximately 37 million people who are deaf and hard of hearing in the United States.  (Recent John’s Hopkins study, 2012, cites 48 million now in the USA.) Only about  600,000 of those 37 million people communicate through American Sign Language.  Not all individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing “speak” the same language.  ASL is a form of language, and many people who communicate through ASL may not have the reading comprehension or speed necessary to utilize CART.  Similarly, most individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing, especially late-deafened adults and those who lost their hearing after learning speech, read lips and rely solely on CART and captioning in group settings.  There is not a one-size-fits-all solution when dealing with communication access. The consumers should be allowed to pick the accommodation that best meets their individual needs.

What is the difference between CART and captioning? “CART” and “captioning” are often used interchangeably when in fact they are two different services.  CART is a text-only translation of the spoken word displayed on a computer screen, LED board, large screen via LCD projector, or over the internet.  Captioning is text displayed in conjunction with a video image and requires an encoder or character generator as well as captioning software on the provider’s computer.

What is the difference between open captioning and closed-captioning? Open captioning is CART or captioning text which can be seen by everybody, thus the term “open”; whereas closed-captioning must be “turned on” before it can be seen.  If text is streaming over the internet, it is actually CART unless the text is embedded in a video image and can be “turned on.”

More info here: http://www.pepnet.org/resources/faq; and http://www.communicationaccess.org/testimonials.html

(Readers: CCAC invites updates,, edits, and your own good video about CART and/or captioning to link here. We appreciate reciprocal links on your site with the blue  CCAC logo to our homepage online. Email your submissions to ccacaptioning@gmail.com anytime.)