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

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

Copyright by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.

CART’s FAQ Parts I through V and many articles I’ve written about my experiences since 1993 as an experienced CART provider, college instructor and tutor with CART and deaf, HOH (hard of hearing) topics are posted on and Monette’s Musings,

This CART FAQ series is being digested by thousands of consumers, professionals, court reporters, captioners, captionists, teachers, students. My goal is to serve you and help all.

37. “When am I ready to CART? As a student? Can I CART while in school or should I wait?”

Through the years of my court reporting, teaching, CARTing and writing for the JCR, this question percolates.

I ask # 37 in return: Is the consumer consulted?

The majority of students enrolled within court reporting schools train toward freelance or official positions. As captioning programs expand, this will shift. Yet these same students would not be permitted to sit in court or depositions providing a public “record” prior to graduation (think “real transcript”).

Our world is technical and litigious; more so than when students long ago graduated at 175 wpm, words per minute, and produced a record post-event.

CART necessitates producing a record live one-on-one, one-to-many and remote CART is an option now. Providing the CART record post-event is not permissible if a consumer or job request needs CART and needs it — now.

Within the litigation arenas, not many legal scholars desire to have a student “practicing” while creating a record. In fact, it is illegal in many areas.

Shouldn’t we ask why a student can “practice” CART producing a product, an ASCII, as a service?

Are they interning or practicing? An intern does not share their skill with judges, lawyers or deponents.

Captioners do not practice on-air, do they?

Should a court reporting student practice with a consumer?

Is this a slippery slope? Yes.

Are students able to write “sustained” 180–240 wpm, 98–99 percent?

Can the student fingerspell in real-time, stitch words, produce a “record” for the person needing this instant verbatim skill?

Just because a student passes one jury charge or one literary five-minute test at 140–160 wpm, words per minute, does this mean he or she writes sustained speeds accurately?

Is the student actually charging for CART while in school at 160 wpm? Unbelievable, but true.

Is the student undercutting the experienced CART providers who earned the right to provide a service without “practicing”?

Do they give, sell, share an ASCII to the consumer and to fellow students? Does the college know this?

How technical is the class? Do they CART videos (another high set of skills)?

Perhaps I would not want my child to rely upon a court reporting student, one not trained for this wonderful field, who “practices” while my child earns a degree or diploma.

I have spoken to many people practicing to CART.

I have asked each if they would want their child to receive the transcript they are producing while a student is enrolled online or in class in a court reporting program. Their honest answers are “no, I would want an experienced person.”

Is the college, school district, university setting, whoever permits a court reporting student to “practice,” doing so to save money, stating they’re complying with the ADA? Many are, and state money, funding, is the reason for their decision to hire someone who is not qualified – yet. Will that person then raise their fee once they are experienced? And will the college, school district, university then find another CART student who is willing ‘to practice’ to save more money?

Is the student who is deaf or hard-of-hearing fearful to speak up, knowing words are “dropped” and dashed out, while the reporting student practices? Is the student missing part of the class with words that are unreadable? What will the student do when this material is on the next quiz or test? (This happens.)

Shouldn’t we be concerned that consumers are fearful, believing “something is better than nothing.” (Another article I authored and have posted regarding CART.)

If a court reporting graduate prepares, works toward the goal of CART, yes, he or she should be able to CART — as long as the graduate trains, and, additionally, learns about Deaf and hard-of-hearing sensitivity and cultures.

Is English the consumer’s language or “sign?” This question is essential to the service we provide.

38. “Should I practice in church?”

Oh, my. Does anyone think “practicing” should be done in a home, classroom, some private location?

People attending church deserve the same privileges as someone in a class or meeting. Many live with daily frustrations from physical or emotional challenges.

I learned to CART writing church services for a Deaf mass. In 1993, I practiced six months, seven days a week at home and in church while I was teaching two shifts. When I was practicing at St. Francesco di Paola (St. Francis), my screen was turned down until I had terms for a large screen in their Deaf mass. I did not project to a large screen until I had prepared.

How can a person “hear” the Word of God if the reporter is practicing and displaying untranslates?

Sadly, I “hear” about this too often, in church and classrooms. Those sharing “how can I hear the word of God” are the consumers.

The people practicing write — repeatedly –, “How do I …” and “When should I …?” (Which is why this CART FAQ is being shared.)

39. “Should I practice on a student?” Please see my “Something Is Better Than Nothing?” article, posting.

40. “And what if an experienced CART provider isn’t available? Is something better than nothing?”

See my previous answer.

Several years ago, I lost a large national client when they decided “something is better than nothing.” I could not, would not participate with their opinion knowing how this was affecting everyone.

The company traveled the United States. They were selling medical services. And doctors, audiologists and medical professionals presented detailed information that may result in a surgical procedure.

The voiced discussions needed to be projected to a large screen to assist people in the audience who were attending the meeting. I scheduled CART providers.

One location did not have experienced CART providers. (Many were CRRs, certified realtime writers, realtiming depositions or in court, which requires different professional skills.)

I phoned 30 court reporters. Not one had experience or the equipment needed to project to a large screen. This was not an event for a person who had never CARTed to a large screen.

When I phoned my client to tell them I could not serve their request with a “local reporter,” they were angry.

Due to the location they had selected remote services were not an option. I shared that I could provide an experienced person to travel; the reporter would need lodging for the one evening due to the length of the drive and their meeting.

The company hiring the CART services said, quote, “Something is better than nothing.”

I replied that my company, my ethics, my reputation, could not agree “to that.”

They (hearing) were adamant stating: “Even if ‘they’ (audience) get 80 percent, it’s better than nothing.” (A number “they” -hearing- created and deemed sufficient.)

I knew people attending that evening would need much more than 80 percent. I knew potential clients to this company would need 99 percent – all discussions would be technical and medical topics, if clients were going to, perhaps, accept the medical services this company was selling.

In realtime I apologized to the company representative I had helped with many meetings after listening to the individual instruct me to “just find someone.” I stated that I could not assist this location per their requests.

So the national company (later they shared they “paid lots of money”) hired a typist, a person to type on a laptop, hooked to a projector, in realtime. A typist? Someone with no training? A typist was paid?

The large national company was not upset a CART provider wasn’t realtiming. They were upset: “You, Monette, don’t believe 80 percent is good enough!”

Well, it’s not! As accuracy rates lower and “practicing” expands with consumers or students, we are enabling avenues in communication to justify “their” lower rates. Alternative providers are more cost-effective for schools requesting and accepting lower accuracies. We are opening the door for others.

If we continue to lower the bar of our services, the verbatim skills we worked decades to raise, alternative resources will come forward to compete with us. In fact, they already are. Some are now “practicing” in the back of the room while the CART provider now “works.”

I am contacted about these topics almost every day. I share where I may; I help where I can.

Yet I ask again: Has anyone asked consumers which accuracy they prefer? And do we really want to justify lower accuracy rates by and for people who are practicing — with steno machines or alternative methods?

This is a CART slippery slope for students, schools and consumers. We can make a difference with interns. Do we really need to create precedents that lower our skills with “practicing” CART providers on-the-job providing a verbatim record?

P.S.: After I finished this article, an experienced court reporter phoned my office. She was asked to demo university-level CART. Years ago, court reporting students had “practiced” while charging very low rates. The university hired the students to save the college money. The students went in the university classrooms to “practice” for when they can provide CART.

The students’ transcripts were so bad, all the Deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers requested notetakers or sign interpreters. Consumers requested the student CART providers not continue to help them. (The court reporter said, “consumers were too frustrated to view the screens.”)

The experienced CART providers, court reporters, then were asked to meet the students’ (very low) price. They could not.

Now reporters were being asked to demo, to share professional skills and to prove they (experienced CART providers) could provide the service.

Her question to me today: “Where and how do I begin, and how do I begin to pick up all the pieces here to help the consumers who want us back in the classroom?”

The saddest part to me: This will not be the last time I am contacted with this scenario. So sad, indeed.

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