October 2012: : The Oregon Communication Access Project (OR-CAP) was  asked to provide a list of best practices for CART.  The first draft of this list is shown below.  Comments invited. The list is based on the list provided by the University of Wisconsin-Madison ( as supplemented by OR-CAP local CART providers andmembers’ experiences.


Best Practices

Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART)

Captioning is the transcription and display of dialogue and other auditory information, such as on- and off-screen sound effects, music, and laughter and is becoming nearly a close to universal method for making speech or lyrics understandable for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing. Furthermore, captioning benefits more than people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. In places with lots of background noise, captioned events allow all sighted visitors to read what they cannot hear in noisy backgrounds. Captions also benefit new readers and people who are learning English as a second language.


Caption Displays.  Captions will be most readily understood when they are displayed by taking the following precautions.


1.     Make the display visible to as much of the audience as possible

2.     Have a display that is capable of offering a font that is as distinct from the background as possible and of a size that is discernible to as much of the assembly as possible.

3.     Use a font for the display that is as distinct from the background as possible and of a size that is discernible to as much of the assembly as possible

4.     Before selecting a method for displaying captions (reader board, projection screen, hand-held device, etc.) test the effectiveness of the different display method under performance conditions enlisting people with hearing loss (Deaf, Hard of Hearing) to determine which method is effective and preferred.

5.     Choose a display that is capable of showing at least two lines of captions.

6.     Under most conditions, hand-held displays are ineffective and unsatisfactory.


Production of Captions.  It is important that captions and subtitles appear on the display they are in an easy-to-read format. Methods of captioning content vary in their capabilities, but good captions adhere to the following guidelines when possible:


1.     Every new sentence should be displayed as a new line to aid comprehension of separate thoughts.

2.     Speakers should be identified when more than one person is presenting or when the speaker is not visible.

a.     synchronized and appear at approximately the same time as the audio is available;

b.     verbatim when time allows, or as close as to verbatim as possible; and

c.      Accessible and readily available to those who can benefit from them.

3.     Punctuation should be used to clarify meaning.

4.     Spelling should be correct throughout the production.

5.     Sound effects are written when they add to understanding.

6.     Captions appear on-screen long enough to be easily read.

7.     The captioner should be expected and encouraged to ask speakers to modify speech to facilitate captioning such as asking them to slow down, pause or speak louder.  When doing so, the captioner is speaking for all those who are depending upon her or his work.

8.     All actual words are captioned, regardless of language or dialect.

9.     Use of slang and accent is preserved and identified.

10.  Italics are effective when a new word is being defined or a word is heavily emphasized in speech.

11.  Translating speech to text sometimes requires creative use of punctuation, but follow the rules of good grammar wherever possible.


Considerations for Hosts.

There are a number of things that can be done by the group providing captions host to increase the likelihood that good quality captions will be generated.


  1. Use an experienced captioner.  Poor quality captions reflect on the value of captions themselves, on the presenter, and on the host as well as the captioner.  Generally a captioner with national CRR/CBC/CCP certifications may provide better quality captions because those certifications include continuing education requirements, which help us know the provider is staying current.
  2. Ask that material that is being prepared for the event (e.g., power point presentations or handouts), names or technical terms that need to be spelled correctly be provided to the captioner ahead of time and give these to the captioner in advance of the event.
  3. Request that the speaker or presenter speak somewhat slowly if they are normally fast-speaking, pause periodically and enunciate.
  4. Quality of the sound system.  The captioner is dependent upon the quality of the speaker’s voice.  If an audio system is used:
    1. It is best to tap into the sound system and use earphones
    2. Good quality microphone(s) should be used.

==end of OR-CAP document October 2012; feedback invited to and it will be sent to OR-CAP==

LAWS ABOUT CART: Breaking Down Laws Applicable to CART:

Laws that Affect Both Provider and Consumer

From Pete Wacht, Senior Director, Communications and Public Affairs, National Court Reporters Association

In a world where laws of every sort govern people’s daily lives, it can be confusing to determine the differences between them. When dealing with a service like Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), where the consumers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing are considered disabled, even more laws apply. From the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), both the CART provider and consumer are faced with a multitude of provisions and restrictions.

Here is a look at each one individually as they relate to CART, including the requirements and definitions in the law, who is covered and what kind of services they provide.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)

Section 504 requires that any agency, school or institution receiving federal financial assistance provide persons with disabilities an opportunity to be fully integrated into the mainstream. However, the institution will receive no additional financial support to provide auxiliary services or aids.

This law defines persons with disabilities as individuals who have a physical impairment that limits one or more major life activities or a person who is regarded as having an impairment, which qualifies the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

Its aim is to protect all persons with a disability from discrimination in education based solely on disability and to eliminate barriers that would prevent a student from full participation in programs or services offered to the general school population.

Persons with disabilities are allowed placement in regular classrooms with support services, such as CART, to eradicate any barriers to the complete educational experience.


The ADA was enacted in July 1990.

The act gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age and religion.

An accommodation plan is developed with the individual, who is then placed in mainstream environments with any reasonable accommodation needed to provide full access. This law covers a broad range of issues ­ from wheelchair access to employment and housing issues to information access.

In addition, Title II of the ADA clarifies the requirements of section 504 for public transportation systems that receive federal financial assistance, and extends coverage to all public entities that provide public transportation, whether or not they receive federal financial assistance.

A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a school or work environment that will enable a qualified student or employee with a disability to participate or to perform essential functions. It is the right of every deaf or hard-of-hearing individual to receive these services at school, in the workplace and certain specified meeting places unless the cost to provide such services is unduly burdensome. While doctors and hospitals are required by law to provide CART assistance, they are reluctant because at this time insurance carriers do not compensate them for costs associated with this service.

IDEA Amendments of 1997

New IDEA legislation was signed into law in 1997. The language requires educational institutions to provide a free, appropriate, public education to people with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. A local educational agency is eligible for assistance under IDEA if it has demonstrated to the satisfaction of the state educational agency that it meets each of the required conditions.

The new law is designed to remove financial incentives for placing children with disabilities in more separate settings when they could be served in a regular classroom. In addition, regular classroom teachers will be included in meetings when the academic goals of children with disabilities are set.

It also eases some of the restrictions on how IDEA funding can be used for children served in regular classrooms. Specifically, such funds can be used for providing services to children with disabilities in regular classroom settings even if non-disabled children benefit as well. An example of this could be if the CART provider was projecting the transcript on a larger scale than a laptop monitor.

Under IDEA, each student has an Individual Education Program (IEP), which is created by a team consisting of the parent(s), at least one of the student’s regular teachers, a representative of the public agency, an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results, and at the discretion of the parent or the agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the student, including related service personnel (such as the CART provider), and, if appropriate, the student.

The team works to determine such things as the student’s current level of academic performance, measurable annual goals, what services will be provided for the student, what activities the student can and cannot participate in with the regular class, the date which the services will be provided along with frequency, location, and duration of the services, the progress of the disabled child and how the parent(s) will be informed of the child’s progress.

If the team has determined that the child will receive CART, the IEP should include the following specifics regarding the provision of this service: CART will be provided by a realtime court reporter who can write at a minimum speed of 225 words per minute, an electronic copy of the notes will be given to the student immediately after each class so the student can make his or her own notes at home, same-day substitutes will be provided when needed, and the student will be allowed to follow the CART feed on a laptop computer on his or her desk.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 508)

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual’s ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily.

Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. Under Section 508, Federal agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others. For example, a recorded or live transmission sent from an agency over its Internet site would require a text version for those with hearing impairments.


CART would be considered a reasonable accommodation to receive communication access under all these laws. In most cases, either the school or other institution subsidizes costs incurred to the consumer to ensure that full access is available. There is sure to be future legislation incorporating the use of CART for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community in daily activities. For more information on the above laws, please visit: