Remote CART – the User’s Perspective
The ALDAcon workshop on remote CART (Computer assisted real time captioning) was presented by Philip A. Hyssong of CaptionFirst. It was itself a fascinating demonstration of remote CART. Captionist Pat Graves provided the captioning for the workshop. But her output was also sent to Glenn in Houston, TX, and he was able to follow the entire proceedings using the text that Pat generated. There was a delay of one or two seconds between Pat’s keystrokes and the words appearing on Glenn’s screen.
Phil noted that the value of remote CART is that it multiplies the effectiveness of a CART reporter, because it eliminates travel time and dead time between assignments. Rather than a providing CART for only two or three hours a day and spending the rest of her time traveling, setting up, tearing down, etc., a remote provider can provide service for virtually the entire day.
Here’s a brief description of how the system would work in a standard application. The voices of the participants would be sent to the captioner via telephone. Appropriate microphone selection at the meeting site will ensure that all voices are audible to the captioner. The captioner captions the voice just as she would if she were in the meeting room. But instead of displaying the resulting text on a screen in the room, she sends it to a server where it is managed by a proprietary streaming text application.
The consumer has previously installed an application on his machine that allows it to communicate with the captioner’s server. He logs on to the Internet and connects to the server’s streaming text application to receive the text. The application on his machine gives him the ability to change the font, color, size, and position of the text, as it appears on his computer monitor.
Remote CART works equally well for conference calls, which can be very difficult for people with hearing loss. With a skilled captioner, the system can work so well that the other participants need never know that one participant is using remote CART.
This system also includes a chat box that allows the captioner and the user to communicate. This is useful for discussing Jargon, acronyms, etc., and for resolving any problems that arise.
CaptionFirst is currently in the final testing stages of a completely wireless system that uses wireless microphones and wireless Internet connections. This system will greatly increase the flexibility of providing remote CART.
Q: What is the required connection speed for the text coming from the captioner?
A: We’re using a high speed connection here, because that’s what theHOTEL provides. But it would work just as well with a dialup modem.
Q: Can the voice to be captioned and the resulting text be transmitted on the same telephone connection?
Q: If we want to use remote CART in a meeting, does each participant need to have a separate microphone?
A: No. A special speaker phone works pretty well to pick up everyone’s voice. Some of them also allow you to plug in a couple of extension microphones.
Q: Can the text stream be provided to more than one person?
A: Yes. Our current system allows the text stream to be received by up to 50 people. If we go to Java applets, we can support many more people than that.
Q: This sounds like a wonderful system. Are there any problems?
A: There are a couple of potential difficulties. One is the lag time between the voice and the text. It’s a second or two at best, and it can be more than that. A second potential problem is the dependence on the Internet. As many of you know, very little on the Internet is guaranteed. If your Internet connection goes down or there’s a problem between you and the server, the system doesn’t work.
Q: What is the cost of this service?
A: Between $120 and $200 an hour.
Q: Are you seeing a lot of demand for this service?
A: We can’t staff CART positions fast enough. That’s one of the reasons that we started providing remote CART – one captioner can provide a lot more service remotely than she can on-site.