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March 8, 2006

Technology helps deaf communicate easily

From: The Republican - Springfield,MA,USA - Mar 8, 2006

My husband is a very remarkable man, especially how he handles his hearing loss.

He wears a cochlear implant and works as an attorney. When in court, my husband uses several tools to help him follow what is going on, such as an FM system and a CART reporter.

My husband first experienced CART reporting at a cochlear implant association convention in 1997.

In my husband's opinion, CART reporting is an excellent backup to an FM system and is very helpful when questioning witnesses .

When a CART reporter is needed, my husband gives the court a 30-day notice to request a CART reporter from the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

CART stands for Communication Access Real-time Translation. It is done by a qualified court reporter who connects his or her stenotype machine to a laptop that has software to convert the spoken word into text which appears on the laptop screen and which can also be projected via an LCD projector if needed.

A CART reporter is a real-time court reporter with specialized training. To be qualified as a CART reporter, people must demonstrate proficiency in simultaneous translation and have a typing speed of at least 225 words per minute with 97 percent accuracy.

The commission for the deaf also works closely with the Massachusetts Court Reporters Association, providing training to those who wish to improve their skills.

After training is completed, candidates enter a mentoring program where they work with experienced CART reporters. Massachusetts was a leader in developing CART in 1989 and 1990 in conjunction with the commission for the deaf.

CART is frequently used in group settings such as conferences and workshops. CART can also be used in other settings such as in educational, legal and medical situations.

The CART reporting bridges the communication gap, bringing instantaneous comprehension by converting spoken English into readable text, allowing deaf and hard of hearing individuals to be actively involved in group discussions.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, CART reporting is considered a reasonable accommodation to ensure communication access.

So far I have seen CART reporting in action twice; at the hearing aid bill forum and a meeting of a cochlear implant association.

Both times I was intrigued by the technology used. The reporter would enlarge the font so I could see the screen much easier. I found that it helped me to stay focused on what was being discussed and not worrying about missing what was being said.

This is an excellent communication tool and allows everyone to be involved.

Carrie Barrepski, a native of Livonia, Mich., lives in Western Massachusetts. You can learn more about Carrie at her Web site, www.carriewrites. She can be reached at

©2006 The Republican