Communication Access Realtime Translation

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates the provision of reasonable accommodations for employees and “auxiliary aids and services” to ensure effective communication with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.  The U.S. Department of Justice regulations for ADA Title II (state and local governments) and ADA Title III (public accommodations) define the term “auxiliary aids and services” comprehensively:

[q]ualified interpreters, notetakers, computer-aided transcription services, written materials, telephone handset amplifiers, assistive listening devices, assistive listening systems, telephones compatible with hearing aids, closed caption decoders, open and closed captioning, telecommunication devices for deaf persons, videotext displays, or other effective methods of making aurally delivered materials available to individuals with hearing impairments.

28 C.F.R. § 35.104 and 28 C.F.R. § 36.303(b)(1), respectively (emphasis added).

“Computer-aided transcription services” has since become knows as “real-time captioning” or Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services, a professional service that can be delivered on location or remotely.  The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) describes CART services as “the instant translation of the spoken word into English text using a stenotype machine, notebook computer and realtime software.”  The text produced by the CART service can be displayed on an individual’s computer monitor, projected onto a screen, combined with a video presentation to appear as captions, or otherwise made available using other transmission and display systems.

The National Court Reporters Foundation hosts an online “Communication Access Information Center”.  Here you will find information about how to locate and work with CART providers; using CART in the classroom (for children and adults), courtroom, and other environments; providing CART services remotely; and the benefits of CART in providing communication access.