Removing Unconscious Barriers in the Presence of Hearing Loss: Part Two

Randi Friedman

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My company, The Open Captioners and I, have performed at Madison Square Garden, Jacob Javits Center, Town Hall, Radio City Music Hall, and other arenas; Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, and at many other venues.

Do I sing? No. I can't carry a tune. Do I play an instrument? I was almost outlawed from the orchestra in junior high for carving my initials on my school-owned violin, so that ended that career. Yes, my parents were horrified.

My love of language, though, led me to become a court reporter and subsequently a CART provider (communication access real-time translation) and open captioner to people who are deaf and hard of hearing. This love began the greatest education of my life about people with hearing loss and what their differing needs were. My attendance at these venues was as a CART provider or open captioner.

In my September 19 article, the first in this series of three, I described the differences in deafness. One main difference and the most common misunderstanding to communication accessibility is that our consumer population (the people who use our services) use captioning or CART, not sign language interpreters, and that captioners are not sign language interpreters.

Almost everyone knows someone with hearing loss who could use captioning to "fill in the blanks" in communication. Captioning can relieve stress and bring contentment within the family, at the workplace, at conferences, and in many other venues.

Captioners and CART providers should have a national certification, CRC, certified real-time captioner, which is achieved by successful completion of a skills test and written exam.

Continuing education is required to maintain professional standing. CART and captioners use steno machines, similar to a court reporter's machine, which sends the feed to their laptop, which in turn sends the feed out to others.

Captioners are often experts in English, grammar, syntax, language flow, and have a good grasp of their technology and how to sync it to a variety of technologies.

Captioners should have a fluency of understanding of the various forms of deafness and know how to discern what is needed for each individual in any setting. The graduating stenotype speed for a captioner is 225 words per minute with 95% accuracy.

Here are three forms of technology that are used for the population of people who use CART and captioning. Cutting-edge technology is a dream come true when it serves to connect us.

What Is CART for One or More People?

CART stands for Communication Access Real-time Translation. It may have evolved from the word "court" because many captioners began as court reporters. When we began using computers, we sent the feed to attorneys, and "CART" stood for Computer Aided Real Time.

Once the profession began providing communication accessibility for people who were deaf or hard of hearing, the acronym was changed to Communication Access Realtime Translation.

CART in the Northeast United States usually refers to the captioner or CART provider's feed to a laptop or tablet to a student in a classroom or a professional in a professional conference or smaller conference with colleagues.

What Is Broadcast Captioning?

According to the Federal Communications Commission (the FCC), "FCC rules for TV closed captioning ensure that viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing have full access to programming, address captioning quality, and guide video programming distributors and programmers.

The rules apply to all television programming with captions." The captioner syncs her feed with an encoder, and the captions are sent out with the broadcast.

According to the National Captioning Institute, "The FCC reserved line 21 for the transmission of closed captions in the United States in 1976."

It is called Closed Captioning (CC) because a remote control is needed to open the captions. Public venues that have TVs such as gyms and banks have migrated TV Closed Captioning to Universal Design where everyone can view the TV captioning by leaving the captioning open on TVs.

What Is Open Captioning?

Open Captioning (OC) is onsite captioning before a live audience. The captions can appear on a large portable screen, multiple screens, or a Jumbotron. Everyone benefits from Universal Design, including people for whom English is not their native language, children learning to read, and hearing people who are momentarily distracted.

My next article will address two more exciting types of technology available. Let's remember: Technology is great if we know how to use and it benefits others.

The Open Captioners educate business and government leaders, clergy, educators, and the general population on Removing Unconscious Barriers (RUB©) via workshops and seminars. Randi gives speaker training and Microphone Awareness Tips© to presenters in all venues.

As Randi sees it, "An evolved society seeks to include all its members. Inclusion benefits everyone."

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