Most Important Variables for a CART Captioner

Susan Hahaj, RPR, CRC, from Texas believes that success in providing CART is accomplished through a mix of professionalism and an inner desire to make a difference to the consumers you are serving. To Hahaj, professionalism means that you have "done your homework" before you arrive in that classroom or at a conference and hook up your equipment for the consumer. You've obtained textbooks and information that will provide you with the terminology to help you succeed and entered entries in appropriate dictionaries. You arrive on time or before a class is to begin, and you're ready to go.

A desire to make a difference is a true motivator for providing the best services you can to a consumer. "Being human," says Hahaj, "we all know as CART captioners that we will make errors when writing, but if we truly care about the services we're providing, we'll always be able to provide the best of the skills that we have at that moment to the consumer."

"Besides realtime skills, the most important aspect is truly appreciating and understanding the importance to stay in the role of a CART captioner through education and practicums," says Shelley Arthur, a realtime writer in Canada. She thinks that reporters stumbling into and dabbling in CART with just a legal background results in bad public relations because of lack of knowledge or forethought regarding ethical situations that arise daily.

CART captioners must educate not only themselves, but the public and the consumers about the service in a responsible and professional manner through proper preparation before arriving for an assignment to promote a positive growth and expansion of the profession and to entice those using it to demand their rights so the communication access will be provided by government agencies and employers.

According to Tanya Ward English, from Florida, preparation, fingerspelling and experience are most important for a CART captioner. An equally important skill to acquire is how to handle parentheticals and explain what the speaker is referring to when he or she points and says, "This doesn't equal this." A skilled CART captioner may write: This (criteria A) doesn't equal this (criteria B).

This is crucial, because by the time the consumer reads the screen and looks to where the speaker is pointing (usually an overhead or chalkboard), the speaker has moved on.

Also, a skilled CART captioner needs to be able to "evaluate" the consumer's vocabulary and reading speed and "condense" a very fast speaker so the consumer can understand what is being said and still keep up with the lecture.