Service for deaf, hard of hearing helps with conferencing

Arizona individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can now actively participate in meetings (in-person or remote), phone calls, videoconferencing, and multi-party teleconference calls with Relay Conference Captioning, according to an April 24 article in The Daily Courier, Prescott, Ariz. The free service offered by Arizona Relay Service (ARS) provides quick captioning of everything that is being said during any type of group meeting. ARS uses stenographers.

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State of the CART

By Jen Schuck
CART captioning has come a long way in the past 10 years. Gone are the days of sitting next to the client with cables strewn all over the place, and it does not take ong to figure out that fewer cords are better when providing any kind of captioning services. Still, power outlets seem to be a commodity today as everyone has an electronic device of some sort. Ever try to charge a device at an airport? Below are just a few of the many areas in which CART captioning has changed over the past decade.

THE STENO MACHINE

Every CART captioner has a steno machine and these machines have gotten significantly smaller over the years. The most lightweight machine on the market today is the LightSpeed, weighing in at only 2.6 pounds, but there are many options on the market weighing less than five pounds. This is a welcome change, as weight and size are a big consideration when providing CART captioning on a campus or in any setting where being mobile is imperative. Today’s most up-to-date machines also offer wireless connectivity to CAT software, which eliminates tethering CART captioners to their laptops. In addition, the battery life on today’s machines has also greatly improved.

THE LAPTOP

There is an array of laptops to choose from these days. While everyone has a brand preference, the number of USB hubs on a machine is still one of the major factors to consider, followed by size and weight. Manufacturers now offer immense power in a thin, lightweight machine. If the consumer is going to be using the CART captioner’s laptop to view the text, a larger screen may be preferable. Luckily, this does not mean that the laptop has to weigh you down. There are nice thin laptops with large screens on the market with some brands even offering up to seven hours of battery life – again, one less cord and no need for that elusive power outlet.

DELIVERING CART CAPTIONING

Once you have the basic needs covered, next comes the question of how your consumer is going to receive his or her CART captions. There are so many more options in 2014 than there were in 2004. For example, personal devices are the smallest and lightest way to go, but there’s also the option of outputting to a tablet, which will require Internet access or a LAN connection. Advantage Software offers BridgeMobile as a platform to view text on any computer with Internet access, and Stenograph offers CaseViewNet. These are great options to transmit text to a consumer, either on-site or remotely. Contact the vendors for more information.
If Internet access is not available at the location of the job, access can be supplied by a hotspot, something a lot of cell phones have the ability to do now. Contact your cell service provider for further details. If you have to connect to the Internet via a LAN, today’s routers are even smaller and more convenient to carry than they have been in the past. Check with your CAT software vendor to see if a specific brand is recommended.
If Internet access is not going to be available in any form, Stenocast offers products to output to netbooks or other computers via Bluetooth technology. They offer products to connect steno machines to laptops as well as to connect the CART captioner’s laptop to the consumer’s laptop. Check out stenocast.com for more information.
For those CART captioners who caption large conferences, Text on Top is a great choice to eliminate the need for projectors and extra screens. This is a wireless device that allows a CART captioner to place captions onto a screen that is also displaying a PowerPoint or other type of presentation. The output of the CART captions look like closed captioning through an encoder, but it only uses two USB devices: one on the CART captioner’s computer and one on the computer displaying the PowerPoint. For more information, check out text-on-top.com.
With technology moving so fast, I can only imagine what the next decade will bring. Making CART captioning more mobile may possibly be the next frontier. It’s been done, but requests to make it more readily available are occurring more often. Devices like Google Glass may allow walking CART captioning (see “A Glimpse of the Future“) to be more commonplace in the future.
CART captioning is definitely a growing field. With all of this emerging technology and equipment becoming lighter and smaller, the possibilities to positively change our consumers’ lives are endless.
Jen Schuck, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, is a CART provider in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the chair of NCRA’s CART Community of Interest. She can be reached at jen@jsreporting.com.

Member Profile: 10 things you don’t know about me

Lisa Schwarze, RPRName: Lisa Schwarze, RPR

Specialty: Owner of Sworn Testimony, PLLC, and Game Day Captions

Resides in: Lexington, Ky.

NCRA member since: 2005

Graduated from: Madison Business College in Madison, Wis.

Theory: StenEd

  1. I have kayaked in the Atlantic Ocean.
  2. I have a Russian tortoise as a pet.
  3. I have milked a cow.
  4. I was kicked out of typing class in high school because I typed too fast.
  5. I watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation every year on Thanksgiving Day.
  6. I am a Cheesehead. Go Packers!
  7. I have two first-place medals as a bicyclist in racing competitions.
  8. I have crossed the Mackinac Bridge, the third longest suspension bridge in the world.
  9. I have backpacked through Belgium and the Netherlands.
  10. As a child, I took piano lessons for years but couldn’t play chopsticks today.

Schwarze’s favorite briefs

My favorite briefs are contractions — AO*EU-L (I’ll), AOEU-L (I will); AO*U-L (you’ll), AOU-L (you will); AO*EUPL (I’m), AOEUPL (I am). You get the picture.

I am also crazy about the wide DZ key, eliminating lots of second strokes for a plural ending as well as an -ed ending. For in-stadium captioning, I like *UBL for “University of Kentucky.”

Q&A

Why did you decide to become a court reporter?

During my first week in high school typing class, I was kicked out for typing too fast. My instructor asked if I would help her with “extra” activities in the classroom and opt out of testing in fairness to the others. Oh, and would you join the Future Business Leaders of America team to compete in typing competitions? It so happened that I was also taking a Gregg shorthand class. So I jumped on a bus with the other FBLA students and traveled to Green Bay for a competition in both written shorthand and typing. I had a first place medal in both by the end of the day, and it was effortless.

Honestly, the hard “work” was far beforehand and did not make me a happy youngster. Beginning at the age of 8, I took piano lessons at my mom’s insistence. Without hesitation, I can tell you piano lessons were every Saturday at noon — at the same time as kickball with the neighborhood kids. Needless to say, I was reluctant to go.

My Diamante is my piano now, nothing more and nothing less. Mom gets the credit for my piano skills. One of the FBLA leaders pointed out to me court reporting as being a profession that would combine both these skills. I enjoyed both, and so I pursued court reporting.

Do you have a favorite gadget? If so, what it is, and why do you like it?

I love technology. My favorite gadget, which has come in extremely handy, is an iPhone app, TurboScan. This app allows you to scan in a document by taking a picture of it, e.g., original exhibits the attorney wants to retain, and sends a PDF of the document to your email. Handy, handy, handy.

What are you most proud of in your career? Can you tell us what that experience was like?

I am most proud of being a CART provider and developing a remote CART program. CART squeezes my heart bigtime. Four years ago I got a call from the University of Kentucky to provide CART for a student coming on board as a freshman. I jumped at the opportunity, although I had lots of fears, including where to park on campus. In a sea of undergraduate students, I found the student I was captioning for and captioned a class in an auditorium-seated room with cables from my steno machine to my computer to, ultimately, Alex’s computer. At the end of class, Alex came to me and said, “Thank you so much. I had no idea how much I wasn’t hearing. This helps me so much.”

Realizing that a freshman in college does not need me plugging cables into his computer every day, I spent endless hours with an IT professional to develop a remote CART program. Within a month, Alex was without cables, although I was still in the classroom. By the end of three months, there was no captioner in the room and we were providing CART with no cables.

Our remote captioning program today is seamless and amazing. I have captioned conferences taking place in Puerto Rico from my home in Lexington. In this instance, my audio feed included the “client” showing others at the conference how he could “hear.” When he cried, so did I. Last semester we had eight students receiving captions from captioners all across the United States. The experience cannot be put in words. CART squeezes your heart, period.