CART FAQ: Falling On Deaf Ears, Part II of VII

CART FAQ: Falling On Deaf Ears, Part II of VII
By Monette Benoit

Copyright by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.

Part II, Falling On Deaf Ears, continues sharing CART FAQs, comments and facts that consistently cross my path. Part I may be accessed and Monette’s Musings,

To further assist you, many articles that I’ve written about my experiences with CART and ‘deaf’ topics are online at

10) “How long did it take you to build your dictionary?”

This is a process. When we stop “building,” we retire from the technical world in which we live. When I began the religious realtime in 1993, I devoted six months to writing and globaling terms.

My alarm rang at 4:30 a.m. to squeeze ‘in’ one hour each morning. (I was exhausted, but knew my life was shifting each day. I felt the ‘pull’ and knew it deep within my heart.)

At the time, I was teaching full-time court reporting speed and academic classes (day and night shifts), was finishing my B.B.A., bachelor degree at Northwood University distance learning program and continued to tutor, expanding the products, books and CDs within CRR Books & CDs.

I created an additional goal of 30 minutes each evening … even if that meant staring at my steno machine across the living room. The goal was to incorporate ‘building’ into my structure. Once it became a habit, it was easier to find the time, and the challenge was to improve my skills. The challenge still continues.

11) “What accuracy do you write?”

The best I can each and every time. Learning to fingerspell dramatically improved my skills. I tease people that I spent two semesters fingerspelling university-level Latin. Knowing what is, and is not, in your dictionary, fingerspelling without hesitation, and ‘balancing’ a sense of humor is essential in this work, I believe.

12) “Do you write verbatim?”

Now don’t blast me if you think you know this answer. But this depends on my audience (one-to-one or one-to-many), the technical level of the job, what is or isn’t in my dictionary. I try to always write verbatim, but if there is a word that is used repeatedly, I can fingerspell it or I can modify the word. Having worked in courtrooms and depositions, I know there’s a fine-line to what is not verbatim.

13) “Why would you not write verbatim?”

If my consumer is learning challenged and/or disabled, if their vocabulary comprehension falls short of the level being discussed, I may need to shift my writing. When I write on a screen versus on a laptop and/or TV for one or a few, I assess each situation from the view of the consumer and the job for which I have been hired.

But if the consumer points and asks ‘what is that word,’ I have a responsibility within the role that I am providing to assist that person. If a person is Big D (Big Deaf), their English syntax is different. Often they have sign interpreters, but if the group doesn’t want to pay for an interpreter and a CART provider, you will find yourself in a role where you may need to shift how you write.

To prevent problems, I inquire about the consumer, speakers and topics before the ‘event’ to gain insight as to what may ‘pop’ up during the course of a job. And if I’m ‘up’ on a screen, the role is very different. Often I ask the person to write the word on a piece of paper; I answer their question(s) after the speakers are finished. (I prefer to answer their question on paper, if I can, to avoid embarrassing the consumer.)

14) “I keep hearing about writing environmental sounds. How much should a CART provider write?”

I have taken the stance that if I can hear it, and can get it on the screen without altering the message, I write it. I am ‘their’ ears. Samples: dogs barking (“hearing dogs” at work), stomach gurgling (if everyone is laughing, consumers should share in that moment also), rain hitting window, birds chirping (that one still draws tears), garbage truck dumping trash, baby hiccupping and crying, helicopter overhead, etc. If people comment and/or make eye gestures regarding any sounds, I try to include the description with parenthesis around the word(s).

15) “Do you think CART will grow?” Yes.

16) “How do you handle working with sign interpreters?”

Become a team. Feed them. More teams are created around food … truly. It’s a common joke that if you want deaf people to come to an event, feed them. The same is true for interpreters and CART providers.

17) “How do you know what the consumers need?”

This answer is similar to “location, location, location.” Ask. Ask. Ask them.

Recently I was in a room with hard-of-hearing and deaf people. CART was going to be provided. A sign interpreter approached, asking me if I wanted her to sign the presentation, which was being realtimed to a large screen. I paused, saying, “Gee, I don’t know. CART has been prepared as ‘the’ communication; I wouldn’t be able to pay for it myself.” The interpreter said, “That’s okay. If someone wants it, I’d be happy to sign.”

I approached the experienced CART provider, explaining the request. The verbatim reply, “No, not now…” I gasped – standing in front of a large room with an audience already seated.

As I slowly turned to the interpreter who heard the verbatim reply, the interpreter signed to the deaf, asking the consumer directly.

The request was accepted by the consumer, the person needing the communication. The interpreter then placed her chair next to the realtime monitor. The interpreter signed; more than one deaf person watched both the monitor and the interpreter.

What did I learn (again)? Ask. Ask. Ask ‘them’. And the CART provider who had said, “No, not now,” – I bowed my head because I did not agree – at all, but was not in a position to change the direct request to the consumer by the sign interpreter.

The matter was handled with the consumer’s needs addressed by the interpreter. Hard-of-hearing who had come to the event watched the screen. This consumer watched the sign interpreter and the screen.

18) “Who should I look at when I’m speaking to a deaf person and an interpreter is signing?”

Great question. I still have to concentrate and focus on the face of the deaf person. When I forget or continue to watch the interpreter, I am (nicely) refocused. The interpreter is speaking, signing for the deaf person; they ‘are in role’.

19) “What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?”

Well, that continues to evolve. This is just a sampling of a small comical moment – they occur all the time when you are truly in the trench.

During the NCRA midyear convention in San Antonio, I attended the NCRF Fundraiser. My guest was Laney Fox, a deaf teen for whom I have realtimed. I hired an interpreter, Molly Sheridan, (Texas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, TCDHH, Level IV) to interpret the Saturday evening with Wayne Lee, a certified hypnotist.

As we were standing in line, a person approached from behind saying, “excuse me,” several times to Laney’s back. (She wanted a napkin from the counter.) I smiled, watched. Eventually, I said, “She’s deaf (pointing to Laney). The person said, “I’m soooo sorry.” I tapped Laney and Molly’s shoulder. They asked, “What’s so funny?” I said, “She’s sorry you’re deaf.” We ‘all’ laughed. This happens a lot. Hearing people often talk to the back of a deaf or HOH person … not knowing.

Interpreters approach new clients from behind, saying the name of the person they are seeking. When one person doesn’t turn around, bingo, that’s the client.

Remember I said ‘the’ sense of humor ‘is’ important. I have a deaf friend who will go to hotel lobbies and play the piano. No-one knows he is deaf. He smiles and nods as people speak ‘to’ him. The first time I saw this, I held my ribs to stop from howling. His sincerity, eye contact, was so ‘pure,’ as each person ‘spoke’ to him. We have much to learn from each deaf and HOH person … much indeed.

You have my permission to photo, add, delete, share. And there will be a Part III. Maybe this series could be renamed to “Falling on Hearing Ears” one day. With your involvement, we can make ‘this’ a possibility. One set of ears, one set of hands at a time. And I still swear ‘learning theory’ was the hardest thing I ever did.

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