CART, Signs, And The Library

CART, Signs, And The Library

By Monette Benoit

Copyright by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.

This sunny, cool Saturday in January involved a trip to the San Antonio library. My father, with cancer, enjoys listening to books. He rents audio books and purchases library cards to expand the selection, so he can listen to books. This man will not dwell on his illness and now volunteers in the local E.R. assisting triage nurses admit E.R. patients. (“I like helping people,” Emmett frequently shares. “And I want to help others who are less fortunate or in need. I have to get on with my life.”)

Doctors recently told Emmett Donnelly they are unable to explain why or how he is here since 2002. He was told, quote, “Go on, live your life; we can not explain this.” The doctor then shook his hand. We, his family, live white-knuckled, moment to moment; Emmett lives adventure to adventure. The library trip was way up on his list, so he could borrow my card tapping a larger audio selection. Who says no to this request? Not moi.

After lunch, we drove to the library, updated records; I handed Emmett a card for his key ring. (I acquired specs on dad borrowing my card; we were good to go.) Emmett’s eyes lit up; you would have thought he’d won the lottery. Immediately, he headed to the computers. During lunch, daughter answered father-questions to include books daughter is reading; father wanted to share an author he thought daughter should read. Hang in here, comrades, I’m getting to the fate, luck, serendipity, blessings.

Emmett knelt on the floor in front of computer; I sat on a child’s seat as father typed John Dos Passos for daughter. Daughter typed Nigel Tranter for father. The computer displayed ‘author unknown’. I gasped. Nigel Tranter has written over 90 historical novels; I was sure I had mistyped. The lady to my right leaned over, “excuse me” – knowledgeably sharing how to access the city terminal. “Oh,” was father and daughter communed response.

Emmett and I politely listened; then she volunteered, “I come here all the time. I’m finishing my degree online.” I stepped back one step knowing Emmett, guidance counselor, social worker, historian, medic, grammarian, master’s degree in education would bite the hook. He did – quickly.

The lady volunteered, “I come here because I have a visual problem.” We nodded, listening; she shared more information – then she included her child has special needs. (My mother has a master’s degree in special education; I grew up with a sibling with special needs. We know code.) I asked if she was familiar with Jaws (software assisting blind), she nodded, ducked her head, smiling. As she spoke, I thought I saw itmotion; I watched as she placed her right wrist over the left wrist. Yes, I have seen that before.

Sonya (not real name) is new to Texas, her daughter is deaf-blind. Once she shared this information, I asked a question about sign language – watching her wrists. Sonya replied, “Yes, I sign.” Then I went for the answer to the big question, “ASL certified?” Sonya ducked her head, smiled, replying softly, “Yes, Level 5.” (5 is considered ‘master’ ASL level in many areas.)

In one fluid motion, I stepped forward, extended my hand, introducing myself as a court reporter and CART provider who work with onsite and remote sign interpreters. She burst into laughter; I too busted-out. (Another realtime deaf-moment within my world.) Everyone in the library turned and stared – until we stopped our outburst of laughter.

Emmett stepped back two steps (for privacy). I asked if Sonya needed assistance, contacts; did she need people to help her family? Sonya shared personal facts; I listened, then detailed people with whom I have worked in places she mentioned, and we laughed. Again, librarians and others stared. Together we stopped laughing, blinked in unison, smiling.

I asked about her deaf-blind daughter; Sonya shared daily multiple challenges. Sonya and I covered a lot of ground – fast. I gave her my business card for All ARTCS, Inc., All American Real-Time Captioning Services, Inc., volunteering to email names, services I knew would help Sonya’s family.

Sonya giggled then shared her knowledge and skills of ASL (American Sign Language), HandSpeak ( and Cued Speed (

We breezed through multiple methods to communicate, CART (voice to text), sign interpreters, transliterators (sign to voice), how she handles hospitalizations with her child admitted into pediatrics – communicating with medical professionals and parents with children admitted on her child’s floor – where once one hears there’s a deaf parent or deaf child in the ward, deaf and hearing children quickly sit together on one bed signing away, happy, content, communicating. Softly we giggled together.

A librarian soon hovered four steps away; I frowned at him. Sonya stated her computer time was up; we had to “step away from the computer”. We laughed softer, and I listened as Sonya shared specific needs. In realtime, I was able to further digest, filter, network and share information to help with sign, deaf-blind and CART information, relevant facts – due to many blessings of this occupation and my passion.

I gave Sonya the name of Deaf Link, Inc. (they helped Texas Katrina evacuees with onsite, remote interpreting for six months) for her interpreting needs or possible future employment (herself Level 5). I shared how I met a deaf PGA hotel employee in Phoenix now living here, working with Deaf Link, married to an employee within Deaf Link. Mike Houston, Deaf, is expanding his goal to open international children’s deaf golf camps. Sonya giggled; she ‘got it’ (that instant deaf-connection).

I told Sonya about Frances Dobson, CARTWheel member ( within the United Kingdom who has the most accomplished resume and skills of anyone I’ve ever met with reporting and deaf-blind talents. I shared articles I had written for my column.

Sonya asked if I would email all information to her home, so she could use assistive software, adding, “My daughter will be so excited! She loves computers, too!”

Then I commented about her ‘wrist holding the other wrist’ when she first spoke. Sonya smiled, “Yes, I have to do that – otherwise I just sign.” I nodded and thought about the court reporters who find fingers tapping on their lap or steering wheel. Together we stood within the library and giggled softly.

As I said good-bye to Sonya I knew this moment, with my new friend, would benefit both she and her deaf-blind daughter. I welcomed her to Texas. My father had his new library card; Sonya had new facts, information.

I am never, never surprised where or how our skills, knowledge of facts involving CART, sign language, deaf and deaf-blind information can open vast new paths for so many.

Leaving, Emmett quipped, “Well, just another typical day for you, right?” We laughed, and I looked to Sonya – standing in the library alone, waving. Eyes bright, her smile big, I signed my departing message to Sonya, so I would not disturb anyone within the San Antonio library on a Saturday afternoon.

Fate? Luck? Serendipity? Blessings? I know. Now you decide.

Monette, the Court Reporting Whisperer, may be reached: and

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