Falling on Deaf Ears - Part VI
By Monette Benoit
37. “When am I ready to CART? As a student? Right out of school?”
Through the years of my reporting, teaching, CARTing and writing for the JCR, this question percolates. I ask in return: Is the consumer consulted?
The majority of students enrolled within court reporting schools train toward freelance or official positions. As captioning programs expand, this will shift. Yet these same students would not be permitted to sit in court or depositions, providing a public “record” prior to graduation (think “real transcript”). Our world is technical and litigious; more so than when students long ago graduated at 175 wpm and produced a record postevent.
CART necessitates producing a record live. Not many legal scholars desire to have a student “practicing” while creating a record. Shouldn’t we ask why that same student can “practice” CART producing a product, an ASCII, as a service? Are they interning or practicing? An intern does not share their skill with judges, lawyers or deponents. Captioners do not practice on-air, do they? Should a court reporting student practice with a consumer? Is this a slippery slope? Yes.
Are students able to write “sustained” 180–240 wpm, 98–99 percent? Can the student fingerspell in realtime, stitch words, produce a “record” for the person needing this skill? Just because a student passes one jury charge or literary five-minute test at 140–160 wpm, does this mean he or she writes sustained speeds accurately? Is the student actually charging for CART while in school at 160 wpm? Unbelievable, but true. Is the student undercutting the experienced CART providers who earned the right to provide a service without “practicing”? Do they give, sell, share an ASCII? How technical is the class? Do they CART videos?
Perhaps I would not want my child to rely upon a court reporting student, one not trained for this wonderful field, who “practices” while my child earns a degree or diploma. Is the college, school district, university setting, whoever permits a court reporting student to “practice,” doing so to save money, stating they’re complying with the ADA? Many are, and state money is the reason for their decision.
Is the student who is deaf or hard-of-hearing fearful to speak up, knowing words are “dropped” and dashed out, while the reporting student practices? Shouldn’t we be concerned that consumers are fearful, believing “something is better than nothing.”
If a graduate prepares, works toward the goal of CART, yes, he or she should be able to CART — as long as the graduate trains, and, additionally, learns about Deaf and hard-of-hearing sensitivity and cultures.
CARTWheel is a group of professionals providing assistance to consumers at http://www.CARTWheel.cc. Links on the main page assist consumers, interpreters, school directors, corporations and reporters. We also have a private CARTWheel Forum, members only. And don’t forget the information available in NCRA’s CART Special Interest Area.
38. “Should I practice in church?”
Oh, my. Does anyone think “practicing” should be done in a home, classroom, some private location? People attending church deserve the same privileges as someone in a class or meeting. Many live with daily frustrations from physical or emotional challenges. I learned to CART writing church services. In 1993, I practiced six months, seven days a week at home, in church. While at St. Francesco di Paola (St. Frances), my screen was down until I had terms for a large screen in their Deaf mass. How can a person “hear” the word of God if the reporter is practicing and displaying untranslates? Sadly, I “hear” about this too often, in church and classrooms. Those sharing are the consumers and ones “practicing.” They write, “How do I ...” and “When should I ...?”
39. “Should I practice on a student?”
Please see my April 2002 column.
40. “And what if an experienced CART provider isn’t available? Is something better than nothing?”
See my April 2002 column.
Several years ago, I lost a large national client when they decided “something is better than nothing.” I could not, would not, participate. The company traveled the United States. I scheduled CART providers. One location did not have experienced CART providers. (Many were CRRs, realtiming depositions or in court, which requires different professional skills.)
I phoned 30 reporters. Not one had experience or the equipment needed to project to a large screen. This was not an event for a person who had never CARTed to a large screen. When I phoned my client to tell them I could not serve their request with a “local reporter,” they were angry. They said: “Something is better than nothing.” I explained, shared, my company, ethics, reputation, could not agree “to that.” I could provide reporters who would drive and spend the night. They (hearing) were adamant: “Even if ‘they’ get 80 percent, it’s better than nothing.” (A number “they” created and deemed sufficient.)
I knew people attending that evening would need 99 percent, technical and medical, if they were going to, perhaps, accept the services this company was selling. I apologized; I could not assist this location per their requests. So the company (think lots of money) had a person type on a laptop, hooked to a projector, in realtime. They were not upset a CART provider wasn’t realtiming. They were upset: “You, Monette, don’t believe 80 percent is good enough.”
Well, it’s not! As accuracy rates lower and “practicing” expands with consumers or students, we are enabling avenues in communication to justify “their” lower rates. And “they” are more cost-effective for schools with lower accuracies. We are opening the door for others. If we continue to lower the bar of our services, the verbatim skills we worked decades to raise, alternative resources will come forward to compete with us; in fact, they already are. Some are “practicing” in the back of the room while the CART provider now “works.”
I am contacted at CARTWheel. I share where I may; I help where I can. Yet I ask again: Has anyone asked consumers which accuracy they prefer? And do we really want to justify lower accuracy rates by and for people who are practicing — with steno machines or alternative methods? This is a CART slippery slope for students, schools and consumers. We can make a difference with interns. Do we really need to create precedents that lower our skills with “practicing” CART providers on-the-job?
P.S.: After I finished this article, a reporter phoned. She was asked to demo university CART. Years ago, reporting students had “practiced” while charging a little above minimum wage. Transcripts were so bad, all the Deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers requested notetakers or interpreters. (Consumers were too frustrated to view the screens.) The reporters then were asked to meet the students’ price. They could not. Now reporters were being asked to demo, to share professional skills. Her question to me: “Where and how do I begin?” The saddest part to me: This will not be the last time I am contacted with this scenario. So sad, indeed.
Please refer to my online articles within the NCRA CART Special Interest Area for previous questions and answers. And, yes, keep ’em coming. This is being digested by consumers, professionals, reporters, teachers and students. Thanks to everyone for sharing.
About the Author:
Monette Benoit, B.Ba., CRI, CPE, is a JCR Contributing Editor.