How’d That Happen? And Real-Time Captioners, Part III of III

How’d That Happen? And Real-Time Captioners, Part III of III
By Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.
April 2013

Part I began: As we listen, as we scan and troll, now and then a moment may stop us in our tracks. Each track depends on where we are at that moment. Each track when viewed over one’s shoulder, as hindsight, may appear to be very different.

And this is why I am still tilting my head asking “How’d that happen?”

Recently a mail list shared by court reporters, captioners, CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) providers, instructors, and students, someone posted a link “Appendix A, Hourly Pay for Real-Time Captioners.” Levels were identified with hourly rates. Each level states, “a minimum captioning speed of … and recommendation by the Director.” Appendix A ends: …

Part II began: Yet I know in 1993 when I began to CART in San Antonio, Texas, the sign interpreters negotiated (they used that word) for me “since you arrive with all your equipment and work solo.”

Back then there was no word for CART.

Part III: We became a team, all working together. Why? To provide the best service we could together is my humble reply. And we have had a lot of fun in “our” trench together, and the interpreters continue to be my friends and my advocates.

They tease me that that the only equipment they purchase is the one-color outfit. (Interpreters usually wear one color, so individuals needing their skills watch hand motions and facial expressions without distractions of colors and designs.)

And they teased me, “You? George Carlin has a routine about packing, then packing with less to then pack with less. Have you heard Carlin’s routine?” Their teasing was not mean spirited. Oh, I listened.

I listened to their teasing, their wisdom, their teaching how I should structure my rates. They taught me when there was no one to ask.

Remote interpreting has changed their world, even as it has changed for CART providers.

Now we are where are. We knew then that the MTV generation would change the world. We knew then that cochlear implants would change their world. We knew then that our technology “captioning without video” (as many referenced CART after my work) would change the world.

Now we have the ability to look over our shoulders and to reflect from whence we have come, where we are now, and where we seek to direct our paths.

Yet I am still pondering, how is it that a college posted qualifications and rates for “Real-Time Captioners” that might stun many who completed court reporting school and purchased equipment to provide this CART service?

I also wonder too, if hourly rates will decrease the way broadcast captioning rates did years ago?

Once the requested lower fee was met, there was a free-fall as contracts were pulled. Rates fell astoundingly until a new low was met. (Rates have since fallen.)

Sign interpreters who learned about the decrease(s) – when our equipment costs to provide services was well documented as not for the faint of heart – were amazed. They murmured to me, “And with your expenses …”

Frequently, I softly asked my friends, “How much – you two now?”

I learn(ed) two interpreters often working 20 minutes each reflects higher than my amount.

Then I am softly reminded, “And our clock starts when we leave home – with mileage. Have you ever thought about sign interpreting? It pays better.”

September 2012, I wrote in my JCR (Journal of Court Reporting) column “Beyond The Comfort Zone,” and blog “Monette’s Musings,” the article “You All Start In CART Now, Right?” That was almost six months before reading about the college’s requirements. Will we ask ”Disabled Students Programs and Services” we are being justly compensated for the skill set and for the equipment we provide, alone, hour after hour?

Working to preserve the record – wordsmiths that we are – we rise to each request. Thus, looking ahead and not over my shoulder working yet another late evening, I have to ask, “How’d that happen?”

Part I of III is posted April 7, 2013, on Monette’s Musings at and

Part II of III is posted April 11, 2013, on Monette’s Musings at and

Part II of III is posted April 27, 2013, on Monette’s Musings at and

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

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As a 25+ year court reporter, CART provider, author of NCRA test prep material, and an instructor, public speaker, Monette Benoit has taught multiple theories, academics, all speed classes, and the 225 homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and a community college. She understands the challenges many adults now face in our industry and schooling.

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