Falling on Deaf Ears - Part 1
By Monette Benoit
As a CART provider, teacher and author, I receive many e-mails that are enlightening, sincere and detailed. Many contain paragraphs with question after question. Many contain the same questions week after week.
I respond as best as I can, then another arrives: "How do I ...?" "Where can I learn quickly ...?" Many request specific information with statistics to be included, and "Can I have it before the close of business today? Do you have any forms from your business that we can use. You can e-mail or fax them to us. We really need it."
Today I received: "How do I learn to CART and write numbers without the number bar?" "Can I attend a CART seminar if I'm not realtiming?" "If I move, how do I continue to earn money when only 50 percent of the transcripts will be ordered. I'll earn less, but have more free time. I do realtime and have clean notes, so I'm considering CART or closed captioning if I really can't earn enough to live on."
Then I received this: "Regarding CART, it's like a beehive. Everyone is protective of their own territory. Someone is going to come in with a can of Raid and kill them all off if you don't band together, get organized." I sent that person a thank-you note for giving me the big laugh for the day. If that person were informed, she would have been aware of CARTWheel and also NCRA's support of CART.
The continuing "how do I do it quickly" reminds me of the Dalai Lama. One day a person asked, "How do I achieve enlightenment quickly?" The Dalai Lama responded silently. He cried.
So I've put together a FAQ list. As technology expands, we need to be more fluid with our skills. Here's a sampling in the order in which I usually receive requests for information.
- "I'm not happy with the work, long hours and deadlines." Also: "I don't want to work with attorneys anymore. What do you suggest?"
- "How do I get started?"
I strongly suggest joining your national and state organizations. They're founts of information. State and national representatives continually attend seminars geared to helping and leading others. Many seminars are created from their seminars.
You need to read your state and national magazines. Each NCRA Journal is varied and informative on all topics. (No, they didn't ask me to say this. I'm a volunteer in the trenches, like almost every other author.)
- "Where do I get started?"
If you receive state and national magazines, they often list seminars, publications, Web sites and other information. Only you know where your skills truly are. When you read the entire magazine, become familiar with terms, products, names, presenters/ speakers or associations, you will be a better judge of where your "where" is.
- "How do I learn the most in the quickest time?"
Improving skills is a lifelong process. Preparation and education are key. Those who learn the quickest usually were the best prepared; they didn't do it overnight.
- "What can I do that will save me money now so I can learn?" Also: "I know I'll lose speed if I change my writing style. How do I prevent that?"
The answer lies in where each person is when he or she asks. Incremental changes can be made. Massive changes might be avoided. But if you want to realtime, you need to tweak your writing. I suggest that people not look at this as losing money, but as a shift to a bigger arena of income that becomes available - one that may not be there now if they are unhappy with their current writing skills.
- "How do I get work? How do I meet clients?"
Work is anyplace where the English language is spoken and/or muttered (I tease). In many locations, "clients" are called "consumers." After prepping, to get work you need to find someone who knows consumers, or you need to meet them to create your work. You need to become familiar with their culture, sensitivities and needs.
- "How do I learn about clients, cultures, sensitivities?"
State and national associations are a wonderful starting ground. Most have their own Web sites. The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing; the Registry of Interpreters (sign interpreters); Self-Help for Hard of Hearing People; the National Association of the Deaf - each association is different. Look them up.
We have a group, CARTWheel, that includes reporters who have been endorsed by a fellow member and a consumer. We share information that is vital to our specific needs. Gayl Hardeman is the founder; everyone is a volunteer. We assist consumers, parents, educational institutions and companies who are seeking competent CART providers.
Many national associations have state and local chapters. The key is to be prepared with your knowledge, then arrive with your equipment. Many groups now are very familiar with CART. They have an understanding of the needs in their backyard and who might need services. The Yellow Pages, United Way, sign interpreters, audiologists, school districts, universities - the list is endless - have information where services might be needed.
Unfortunately, most people ask some of these questions (or worse, they don't) believing that if they can realtime in depositions or court, they can "do this," and they head out into the CART field. This is a different ballgame. It is no different than realtiming on someone else's software with his or her personal dictionary. The key to being successful when learning about CART is to do your homework before you go out. "Something is better than nothing" is not good for you or the consumer. You need to know this.
And when that "something is better than nothing" is discussed with me by someone seeking CART services, I decline the work. I choose not to work with companies that want the cheapest writer. Many companies and educational institutions will ask, "Can't you just find someone who needs an internship? This helps them to learn and helps us to save money." I'm still amazed when that question is asked by people requesting our services (they often do not want to be sued). They do not want to compensate qualified reporters for their training, equipment and technical skills. The consumer deserves qualified services. His or her job and/or education may rely upon what that person receives - or does not receive - on the computer screen.
Knowing where the boundaries are in this field with your skills and the needs of the consumers is vital before you step out. Some may want to pay you a lower fee to "learn"; be careful. Often qualified CART providers must go in after the fact to pick up where the person who was not prepared left off. That's not pretty no matter where or how that happens.
- "Should I learn sign language?"
I believe that each person who works with deaf individuals should know some signs. Is English their first language? Many, not all, deaf people communicate by signs. The more you know, the more flexible you are. If a person is deaf or hard-of-hearing, he or she may not sign. This is the key to the culture and sensitivity. From where I stand now, I simply ask, "What do you prefer?"
- "How do I meet sign interpreters?"
Go where they go. Interpreters are experiencing national shortages. I went to places where they were. I waited for many to come to me. I was later told that it meant I really wanted to learn.
There are many opportunities for reporters. If someone wants to work in legal settings, or not, there now are many choices; this creates options.
I listed the information in the order in which I receive the requests. This is the beginning of a discussion. Sue Deer Hall and other CART providers answer many questions within the CART Reporting section of NCRA's Online Forum.
Falling on Deaf Ears ... the sad part, to me, about writing this article? Many people who request that these questions be answered quickly, so they can learn quickly, may not be members of our national and their state association. Remote CART is expanding our possibilities. Now we have to expand our skills. The market has never been so varied, so wide. Part II comes next month. And I still swear "learning theory" was the hardest thing I ever did.
About the Author:
Monette Benoit, B.Ba., CRI, CPE, is a JCR Contributing Editor.