CART and Captioning – Part 1

CART and Captioning – Part 1

Editor: I saw this article on Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) and Captioning online and I emailed the author for permission to reproduce it. Tamar Clarke generously consented.



Some people become extremely excited about the possibility and use of CART. Why is this so exciting? We thought that it would be beneficial and educational for the CSC’s to understand captioning used for meetings. This presentation will cover CART and captioning, with the focus being on CART.

What do we mean by CART? It is an acronym for Communication Access Realtime Translation. Very simply, it is the appearance of text, a written version of what has been expressed verbally and it can be displayed in a variety of formats or mediums. It includes sounds such as sound effects and other non-verbal cues in addition to speech. CART can be used for meetings that occur on the job or at conventions as well as court proceedings. It is important to know that CART requires different hardware and software from captioning.

Captioning is only when text occurs along with visual images such as movies or television. In fact, some public places like the Rock Bottom Brewery in Bethesda, their television sets display captioning. There are also other types of captioning such as offline captioning, prompter captioning, and etc.

What is wonderful about CART is that it increases communication access for many people. This is particularly true for those who have a hearing loss from profound to mild, those who speak a foreign language, for those learning to read, and for those who miss a word or phrase.

There are a variety of captioning services, and this presentation is focusing on CART. Communication Access Realtime Translation is done at the same time the person is speaking, and a few seconds later, the text appears. At a meeting, the text often appears on the laptop that the captioner brings to the meeting and is visible to people viewing the laptop screen. This is considered a challenging type of captioning as a person has to be able to transcribe up to 250 words a minute, combining phonetics and knowledge of spelling. They occasionally backtrack and correct their mistakes.

For television programs that display text, captioning can be corrected for a later broadcast. This is considered different from CART, the acronym for Communication Access Realtime Translation.

************************************************************************ REQUIREMENTS FOR COMMUNICATION ACCESS REALTIME TRANSLATION (CART)

What are requirements for communication access realtime translation (CART)? It requires :

a highly skilled realtime captioning reporter (or highly skilled court reporter) with a steno machine (Not all court reporters are able to perform communication access realtime translation CART.)

a steno machine (writer) to enter data (Note: The cheapest one is a Gemini steno keyboard at the cost of $595.)

a high speed computer with a sizable amount of memory to store a large dictionary which is used to translate the steno keystrokes into words (Note #1: the transcription is done on a combined spelling and phonetic basis. Note #2: Actually, with the rapid growth in computing capability, CART can be done on some of the computers now considered to be older models such as the 486 laptop and on DOS based software. )

CART (communication access realtime translation) software which translates every steno keystroke into English and then sends that data to an encoder for display purposes (if using a display other than the existing laptop or another computer monitor). (Note: This CART or Court reporting software runs about $1,000 to $4,000.)

encoders-They take the information produced by the CART software and computer and encodes the data for displays other than the laptop computer or a computer monitor. (Note: Encoders cost about $1,000 to $3,000.) Note: Decoders are needed to take the encoded information and display them into text format, either on the television screen or on a screen displayed via the LCD video projector.

display medium – It can be displayed on the laptop, another computer monitor, displayed on a television set, or it can be displayed on a screen transferred thru a LCD video projector. Note #1: Encoders are needed if displayed on a television or on a screen via an LCD video projector. Note #2: The newer LCD video projectors can be set up for either CART using the VGA input or captioning which uses the NTSC video input.

The costs of such a total CART system can range from $3,000 to $20,000, depending upon the features selected with the system.

Here’s part 2