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Communications Access Realtime Translation (Captioning)

Real Time Captioning (CART)

Communications Access Real Time (CART) is a system that provides access to spoken information for people with hearing loss. The CART system operator generally began as a court reporter.

CART operators use a court reporting machine to input spoken text. These machines are quite complex, but they are much faster than a typewriter because they allow for inputting words a syllable at a time rather than a letter at a time.

CART operators, like real time television captioners, must be able to input spoken information as fast as a person speaks, and the better ones are able to keep up with all but the most rapid speakers.

The output of the court reporting machine is fed to a computer, which produces a text document that corresponds very closely to the words used by the speaker. (The CART reporter has some license to change the words, as long as the resulting message is true to the original.

Once in the computer, the text can be displayed on a computer monitor (for one or two users) or projected onto a screen (for tens, hundreds, or thousands of users.)

CART is a wonderful system for late-deafened people, and is generally their system of choice.


April 2013 – The Case for Captioning

January 2013 – Appeals Court Upholds Right to Captioning in Classroom

February 2012 – AG Bell Files Amicus Brief Supporting CART Interpreting for Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing

July 2011 – Partners Offer Automated Lecture Captions

February 2010 – NCRA Captioning Guidelines

June 2009 – Captioning the HLAA Convention

February 2009 – New C-Print Provides for Graphics as Well as Text

April 2008 – Everything you always wanted to know about CART

April 2008 – Demand for Court Reporters Up; Supply Down

December 2007 – Court affirms real-time captioning for 2nd deaf student

March 2006 – You may be aware of C-Print as an alternative to CART. Demand for C-Print is skyrocketing at NTID!

January 2004 – You’ve probably been hearing a bit about remote CART. That’s the term used to describe a situation in which a captioner provides captions without being physically present. Here’s an article on remote CART from the 2003 ALDA conference.

December 2003 – Here’s an interesting article by Shelley Arthur about similarities and collaboration between CART reporters and ASL interpreters!

February 2003 – I’m really excited about the possibilities of using voice recognition to do live captioning. Here’s a report on the use of voice recognition to caption an ALDA meeting.

August 2001 – It seems that CART has grown up before our very eyes. There are still too few reporters and other growing pains, but the field is well on its way to becoming a profession. Here is an article by Maureen McGuire and Pete Wacht on finding a good CART reporter. The article recently appeared in NVRC News. As always, we appreciate their permission to share their information with you.

April 2001 – The intent of many accessibility laws is to provide a person with a disability with a service that is functionally equivalent to the service available to a person without disability. It’s not a real clear definition, but one that can provoke considerable thought and discussion. Here’s a VERY interesting article on that topic by a CART user with NORMAL hearing!

More on this and related topics


The Case for Captioning

April 2013

It is not only the millions and millions of people with hearing loss and deafness who need captioning to understand conversations, videos, lectures, meetings, theater, and other speaking events (Arch Intern Med 2011;171[20]:1851-1853), but also the millions more who use captioning for language learning, translation, and other good reasons. The captioning of speech and sounds in real time is not always provided, even when it is vital for human communication. Hearing aids, implants, and other devices are not a substitute for quality captioning in many situations, such as three or more people conversing, videos on the Internet, complex studies in education, business meetings, several varieties of entertainment, and more. There have been improvements in the number of professionals offering real-time captioning and in the development of new systems for creating captioning with voice-trained devices. Why captioning still is not viewed as a vital accessibility item and is missing from lists of resources is a mystery.


NCRA Captioning Guidelines

February 2010

The purpose of this publication is to serve as a reference source for recommended style and formatting guidelines for realtime captioners in the United States of America. The material found in this manual is the product of the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) Captioning Community of Interest (COI). The goal of this manual is to assist the independent realtime captioner by identifying and providing, through example, captioning style and formatting guidelines to create a more homogeneous product for the caption-viewing audiences in the United States. This manual will only address “realtime” broadcast captioners, both steno and voice, and does not apply to “offline” or “post-production” captioning. Although “realtime” and “offline” captioners do share many of the same concerns and style dilemmas, this manual will only address concerns specific to realtime captioning. For individuals interested in style and format recommendations for “offline” captioning, please refer to the Caption Key document created by the Captioned Media Program (CMP) of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) with funds for publication provided by the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education.