ADA Needs CART Reporters

January 14, 2020

Did you know that in addition to their role as Guardians of the Record, court reporters perform a vital role in helping people with hearing impairment access to judicial proceedings?

Realtime court reporters who have obtained additional training and certification are able to provide CART – Communication Access Realtime Translation – services, which are similar to closed-captioning seen on television.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), federal, state, and local governments are required to provide “reasonable accommodations for employees and ‘auxiliary aids and services’ to ensure effective communication with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.”

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.

In a recent letter to the editor in a local newspaper, one man who has requested CART services from the courts in the past took the time to educate his neighbors about what CART is and how to go about requesting CART services themselves.

The ADA provides that courts and public entities must provide meaningful access to the hearing impaired, and not just American Sign Language. Under the ADA, if a hearing-impaired person makes his or her needs known, the courts must make every effort to accommodate the needs of that person, including, but not limited to ASL.

Little known, there is something called Communication Access Realtime Translation, in which a qualified certified court reporter is present in a court proceeding of public meeting, takes down what is being said and by whom, in realtime and the text of the proceeding appears on a monitor. Under the ADA, the public body must provide these and other services, at its cost, and must, wherever practical, honor the request of the hearing disabled to provide the accommodation he or she feels would be most useful.

I have had good success in getting courts to accommodate my needs, given sufficient lead time and instruction on what I need and the technology which is available.

The National Association for the Deaf provides more information about CART and the Americans with Disabilities Act here. For more information about becoming a CART certified court reporter, visit the National Court Reporters Association’s (NCRA) CART page.