Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the following frequently asked questions for the answers.
  1. What is CART (Realtime Captioning)?
  2. What is included in the captioned material?
  3. What is displayed on the screen?
  4. What are the qualifications for Realtime Captioners?
  5. What about voice writing?
  6. Who benefits from this service?
  7. What else should I know about captioning?

What is CART (Realtime Captioning)? top
CART is a speech-to-text service which uses the same skills and equipment as court reporters. Specialized software, a personal dictionary, along with a steno machine and laptop computer are the tools that enable the spoken word to be displayed moments after being heard by hearing individuals. Captioning facilitates fuller participation for the hearing-impaired individual in an academic environment. Studies also suggest that captioning benefits those with learning disabilities and language barriers in acquiring language and improving literacy. Everyone benefits from CART in a noisy environment or with soft-spoken speakers.


What is included in the captioned material? top
Captioners strive to write verbatim what is said by all voices. Surrounding activities are included for context, ie., laughter, sirens, telephones. Multiple speakers are identified to facilitate comprehension of the conversation.

What is displayed on the screen?
Ideally, the spoken words are displayed verbatim in English on the screen. The steno outlines are translated into English based on the personal dictionary that is compiled by individual captionists. When a word is not in the dictionary, the steno outline is displayed in a phonetic format. Sometimes this untranslated text is easily discernible. In other cases, it must be edited to provide accurate translation. Job dictionaries can be created to accommodate specific categories of terms, ie, technical, medical, scientific.

What are the qualifications for Realtime Captioners?
There are currently no formal licenses or standards in this emerging industry. However, most captioners have the California Certified Shorthand Reporter license which requires one to write four-voice text at 200 wpm with 98% accuracy for 15 minutes. This demonstrates the skill necessary to be successful as a captioner. Realtime captioners should have a dictionary of no less than 15,000 words, steno translation software, and a laptop or other concurrent display unit.

What about voice writing?
As voice and speech recognition technology advances, realtime voice writers are now available as CART service providers. There are currently qualified voice writers, making this method of capturing the spoken word a viable alternative for the shortage of captioners existing today. Voice writers repeat what they hear into a specialized microphone and their voice recognition software converts it into text. The output is similar to that from a stenocaptioner. Their skills include the ability to distinguish between speakers, and identify them as they speak, inform the consumer of background sounds, such as laughter, and translate speech at upwards of 250 words per minute, with 99% accuracy.

Who benefits from this service?
Individuals with hearing impairments, learning disabilities, language barriers, and those with limited mobility which restricts note-taking are among the populations who benefit from realtime captioning. The electronic text which is created as part of this service can be converted for use in many environments, including Braille, foreign languages and other accessible formats.
Everyone benefits in a noisy environment.

What else should I know about captioning? top
Due to the nature of captioning, sometimes the captionist may be a few words behind the speaker. It is helpful to be aware of this delay. When more than one person speaks at a time, the captioner must choose which voice to write. In addition, when words are inaudible or spoken too fast, some of the text may not be taken down, and therefore, not displayed. If you are the speaker, it helps if you speak loudly, clearly and one at a time. It would be very helpful to give the captionist spellings of unusual words, esoteric vocabulary or names before the presentation so they may be entered into the dictionary and translated accurately when spoken. Soft voices and strong accents are difficult to caption, and more frequent breaks would be appropriate.