You All Start In CART Now, Right?

You All Start In CART Now, Right?

~~ Originally published in my column “Beyond The Comfort Zone” within NCRA’s Journal of Court Reporting, JCR
By Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved

An invitation to join friends (each working in college student services) for lunch with their colleagues began with introductions. I selected the restaurant, away from busy “spots” as many were new to this city.

While chewing my sandwich, a college disability coordinator, asked, “Monette, you’re a court reporter, right?”   I nodded.

“Monette, you’ve provided CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) a long time, right?”
I nodded, still chewing my food.

The third question was the stun-err-roo when a woman seated at our crowded table asked, “Monette, (long pause) all court reporters ‘start’ in CART, right?”

I blinked hard and looked to my friends. They gave me a blank look; I sensed this topic had already been discussed prior to this gathering.

I did not nod. I sipped my tea, tipped my head. Thinking. Thinking.

The professional then said, “All court reporters start in CART now, right? That’s where they get their training, so they can then go into court and get other good work, right? It’s a simple question.”

Oh, Lord!  My simple lunch was now halted as each person awaited my reply.

I worked to not appear stunned – now wearing my court reporter face that we know well.

I replied with a question – asking if each person is familiar with CART.

I was thinking how to answer a simple question that did not appear to be simple to the individuals waiting for my words.

And I felt they knew it was not a simple question, too, due to the manner it was asked, and the complete silence at the table.

“We want to know if this is where all court reporters now begin their work? It’s the place to start now, right?”

Again, I looked to my friends.

Not one person offered any words to assist me. Nope. I was clearly on my own.

Slowly, I shared, “Our realtime skills now afford court reporters, CART providers, and captioners multiple opportunities. Many professionals work in multiple venues. We are trained with specific skills, earn certifications, attend conventions …” No one was eating now.

Then they began to share, “We have found that the CART individuals now providing CART for many colleges and universities are clearly learning how to.”

I did not ask the name of companies or individuals providing CART captioning.

This gathering was not a continuing education seminar. Nor did I want to miss the opportunity to share the wonderful services we do provide, 24/7.

I also did not ask the “visiting professionals” the questions I might have asked my friends.

I wanted to ask if they or their schools had gone with the lowest bid and was the work provided by individuals who have completed court reporting school.

I watched my friends who had invited me to this gathering. (They schedule CART captioning for their students.)

I know that a few, perhaps, had been paying experienced CART providers and now are permitting students to provide CART to earn school credits.

Since that discussion was not tossed onto the table, I decided to avoid that scenario entirely – unless it was brought up.

In another forum or within a scheduled meeting, those questions – might have been appropriate.

This was still the light, breezy lunch in a quiet location (their words) “to get away from work and work topics” – yet, this was gifted to me.

Part of me wanted to say, “Okay. Bring it on. Let’s go there. Amplification? Microphones? Where? On professor? Near the student? Near the person hired to capture words for realtime display? Acoustics? Classroom or auditorium? Prep given to CART captioner? CART provided over net? Using what? Have you ever asked the CART captioner if they need anything to provide their services?  Does the consumer wear a hearing aid?  Cochlear implant?  Is rough ASCII provided at end of class -or multiple days later – as may be requested by someone not experienced…?  Is CART captioner able to communicate directly with consumer?  Is the verbatim text for one student or many?  Laptop or overhead projection?”

Oh, I had questions.  Multiple.

I decided not to defend our work or to ask the above multiple questions. I was not their lunching CART consultant that day. (If you disagree, I wish you had been at that table.)

I know that many “coordinators” working in student services departments answer to others – yet, others are often not part of student services. Having worked in a (very) large college and private schools, I know there are often many “chiefs” – not just one.

I succinctly shared that we provide onsite and remote services. Communication with the student, scheduling department, instructor, student, and CART captioner is essential. Then I smiled, picked up my sandwich, and continued eating.

Were we done?

No.  (Darn.)

Several individuals began to discuss their “multiple problems” and “CART beginners” they are working with now as they were still “convinced that this is where all court reporters now begin their work.”

I listened. Continued sipping my tea.

When I was again asked for my thoughts, I did not sigh. I did not roll my eyes.

I asked each person to write down the NCRA, National Court Reporters Association, web address and also to contact their state court reporting associations.

In unison, they replied, “We’ve never considered doing that.”

I asked that they “remember that we – court reporters, CART providers, and broadcast captioners – are trained with outstanding skills and discipline that might knock your socks off if you knew what we lived through each minute, each day to prepare us to share our professional work.”

Then I was asked if I knew where they could get cheaper notebooks “for our transcribers, students, who write on carbons for other students.”

My reply? “Nope. Can’t help there.” Then I put more food in my mouth.

When the waiter brought the ticket, several lunches [sic] gave me their cards.

As we departed, I calmly walked to my friends and quickly pinched each person.

I said, “Gee, thanks. A simple heads up or any assistance to avoid me holding a court reporting – CART captioning seminar might have been nice.”

They howled and said, “Monette, this was what they needed to hear – what we all needed to hear. Maybe you could write an article about this, so court reporters know that we, disability and student services coordinators, find there to be such a large difference in skills among the CART writers. That’s all.”

Yes, I pinched each again, maybe harder than the first pinch.

Ah, when we are enjoying a casual meal, a relaxing moment, our work may still become an opportunity for education and advocacy.

One of my positive takeaways, which I did not share with the individuals, was that I was impressed they knew the word “CART.”

They did not say “captioning” as in days of old.

Though I would have liked to have heard a positive comment, they were aware that the colleges were providing this “service” because we have to, per law…  “And there’s that,” I avoided saying.

Alone, I focused on the advocacy of all our years of work and thanked the Lord that the lunch was over. Oh, yes, I did.

—- Monette, named the Court Reporting Whisperer by students, may be reached:

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Monette Benoit, B. B.A., CCR, CRI, CPE, Paralegal, CART Captioner, Instructor, Consultant, Columnist

Since 1990: Multiple Title Author of Books & Purple Books Test Prep for the Court Reporting, CART Captioning Profession

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About Monette Benoit:    As a 30+ year court reporter, CART captioner, author of NCRA and State test-prep material, instructor, public speaker, Monette Benoit has taught multiple theories, academics, all speed classes, and 225-homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and a community college. She understands challenges many adults face in our industry.

In 1993, she began to CART caption to a large screen for a Deaf mass, San Antonio, Texas.  Wonderful opportunities then presented from Big D, Little D, Oral Deaf, HOH consumers -each with special moments.

Monette Benoit has worked with thousands of professionals, court reporters, CART captioners, students, instructors. She has helped to create new court reporting training programs, worked with federal grants, and assisted instructors in developing curriculum for both in-class and at-home students.

Her one-on-one tutoring, private coaching, has assisted thousands of students, novice and experienced professionals to reach the next level.

Monette’s Musings is an informative, motivational, and funny blog for busy professionals and students who seek to create their success and who seek to enjoy this special path.



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