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Providing captioning/CART in educational settings

By Kim Neeson 

What is captioning/CART?

Captioning or CART (Computer-Aided Realtime Translation) is taking the spoken word and reproducing it in text format. In addition to the spoken word, other auditory sounds may also be communicated; for example, laughter, the sound of a phone ringing, a door slamming, etc. These sounds often provide context for what is written. 

Captioning is a term that was broadly used back in the 1990s and early 2000s. However, since that time, in our industry “captioning” denotes voice-to-text on television broadcasts, on video recordings or on the Internet.

CART is a term that was created to denote live in-person voice-to-text services. CART can also be performed over the Internet on a variety of platforms, including one-to-one streaming, webcasting, etc. CART is the service that is used to provide voice-to-text services in the educational setting.

Whether we are talking about CART, captioning or even realtime captioning, these services are provided by a skilled stenographer who uses a shorthand machine, a laptop and sophisticated software to take what is spoken and create text.

How does CART work in the educational setting?

First and foremost, it’s important for students to first make contact with the accessibility office in their educational institution. This is the first step in starting the process to receive accessibility. The disability offices engages a CART/captioning provider. Once the service is set up, the captioner and the student connect.

Usually CART/captioning is done remotely, via the Internet. Since most colleges and universities have wide area networks available on campus, connecting wirelessly is a breeze (unless your classroom is in the basement and Internet isn’t available!) This literally means that, as a Hard of Hearing, Late Deafened or Deaf student, you can receive realtime captioning services anonymously – no one sits beside you, and you can seat yourself anywhere in the classroom.

The CART/captioner at the other end will need to “hear” your class. For this, it is important that the professor or instructor wear a wireless lapel microphone that will connect to your laptop. For group discussions, an omnidirectional microphone is a great way to pick up group discussions. The service provider and the student connect via Skype or other such IP service for the audio. 

For the text portion, the student is sent either a link or is provided with an access code in order to receive the realtime feed. This, of course, requires connection to the Internet. Some captioners use their own software’s version of text streaming software, while others use third-party software, which provides an Internet link to receive the text. 

What do you need to do in order to get the most out of CART services?

Here at Neesons we provide a thorough checklist to our students, their professors and the accessibility office in order to cover off as much preparation and setup in advance of the first class.  Some of these items include:

  • Sharing of all contact information, including Skype name, email address and cell phone number in case of last minute changes or technical issues
  • Purchase of all applicable microphones, and complete setup and testing
  • Test link/password to ensure realtime transcript is being seen by the student
  • Obtain access to BlackBoard or other software student uses to obtain course materials and syllabus
  • Obtain any other unique information applicable to the student’s course

While all of this seems like a lot of work, much of it is a one-time setup and becoming comfortable using the technology. The beauty of realtime captioning is a student can even be attending school virtually and receive captioning! 

For more information on how to access CART/captioning for your educational needs, contact us. Neesons CART/Captioning webpage is another great informational resource.

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