Why Use CART Services for your Next Event?
Most people have never heard of Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), but it is a great way to make a live event more accessible. CART isn't as good for the deaf as ASL, but it is generally seen as sufficient accommodations. The Canadian Hearing Society has some very legitimate concerns about how CART is implemented and provides suggestions about how this should be regulated better.
In organizing A11yYOW last year, we made sure to include CART services into the event. Both main areas had live transcription of all of the presentations. Even for a small conference we found the rates were quite affordable and allowed us to provide accommodation for an important part of the disability community.
Accessibility improvements can help everyone
CART certainly helps the deaf, but it also is really important to the hard of hearing. There are a lot more people who have trouble hearing in groups than they do in one on one. Even if you have excellent hearing, if you are at the back of the room, the sound may not travel as well, Or maybe the sound system just really isn't sufficient for to amplify what the speaker is saying. However, with CART, anyone within line of sight can just read the screen knowing that someone in close proximity to the speaker is typing out everything that they are saying.
For Social Media folks who are live tweeting in an event, it can also be useful to have a transcription to refer to so that people can verify that they are tweeting an accurate quote. It may even be useful to take a photo with the text so that the photo can capture both. It's also a good way to catch up on what was said 5 seconds ago if you were momentarily distracted.
Some people will just absorb information better if they read it than if they hear it. The goal of any presentation is to help people understand your point, so why not help people who learn.
We're also ahead after the event if we have a copy of the digital transcript of the talks. If you missed it or wanted to review the presentation, there is a copy that can be shared, searched and stored for the future. It's really a great archive if you can't make it to all of the sessions.
Another obvious advantage is that if you have a CART transcript it is easier to provide the captions for video. Videos of presentations are becoming faster and easier for people to take and distribute. YouTube has done so much to make distributing videos easier, but services like Meercat are taking this even further. Maybe at some point it will be possible to synchronize the live broadcast with CART services too.
For your next event
Consider providing a CART service. Remember, it's not that you're trying to provide accommodation if a deaf person decides to attend but providing better accommodation for everyone that you know will be there and for things you are probably going to want to do anyway.
About The Author
Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.