For those of you already familiar with CART and CART in Alaska, you probably already know what CART is and about NLRR’s commitment to providing vital access services to Alaska’s deaf and hard‑of‑hearing communities.  In fact, our president, Sandi Mierop, is even conversant in American Sign Language.

For those of you who are new to CART or perhaps have seen CART in action but want to understand a little bit more, just check out our “C.A.R.T.: Frequently Asked Questions” below.

And if you want to learn still more or even arrange for CART services, just call Sandi at 907‑337‑2221. 

C.A.R.T.:  Frequently Asked Questions

What is C.A.R.T?

CART stands for Communication Access Realtime Translation and is the instantaneous translation of spoken words into written text.  Now, when you take the term apart, you see that CART at its very essence is all about providing access.  The Communication part is whatever is going on and happens without CART, and the Realtime and Translation parts have to do with the skills of the machine stenographer and the technology.  So, what we are left with is Access, and that’s what’s really so special about CART.

In fact, the Americans with Disabilities Act specifically recognizes CART as an assistive technology that provides “effective communication access”.  So again, it’s all about access.

How does CART work?

A machine stenographer writes what is being said on his or her stenotype machine.  The stenotype machine is connected to a notebook computer that is running realtime software that instantaneously translates the stenographer’s shorthand into plain English and displays that written text most frequently either on the computer’s screen (for an individual consumer) or through a projector onto a large screen or wall (for groups).

Who uses CART?

In reality, CART is used by anyone who needs access to spoken information but who either cannot hear the words or cannot hear the words well enough to meet his or her access needs.

What are the benefits of CART?

The very exciting reality of the benefits of CART is that CART consumers and providers are discovering more and more uses and benefits every day.  However, the following are the three benefits most frequently mentioned by CART consumers: 

♦  Full access 

CART provides a word‑for‑word record of the spoken communication as well as capturing environmental sounds such as laughter, applause, or comments and questions from the audience. 

♦  Access for any situation 

CART consumers are using CART in one‑on‑one situations where they read the text from the CART provider’s computer screen, such as in classes or even in medical treatment situations.  CART consumers are also using CART in large group settings where the CART provider projects the written text onto a screen or wall so that everyone present can read it.

♦  A record of the event 

Because the CART provider is writing to a computer, the CART consumer can receive a computer diskette containing the text of the event immediately after it is completed.  Thus, in a college classroom situation for example, the CART consumer not only has full access during the class, but also has one great set of notes after the class. 

What to look for in a CART provider—certification, certification, certification. 

The sad truth in our world of modern technology is that any stenographer (or any other person for that matter) can hook a stenotype machine up to a computer running realtime software and get the computer to display characters, but not necessarily words and not necessarily all of the time.  However, in an effort to establish standards and serve the CART consumer, the National Court Reporters Association has established a national testing and certification programs for both realtime reporting and CART so that CART consumers can know that CART providers holding these certifications have met rigorous standards for the highest accuracy in writing speech that is instantaneously displayed as written text. 

Reporters who pass the NCRA’s realtime reporting and CART tests become certified as Certified Realtime Reporters (CRR) and Certified CART Providers (CCP), respectively, and must then meet continuing education requirements in order to keep their certifications.  Many of the captioning programs and captioning companies require a reporter to already be a Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) or a Certified CART Provider (CCP) and then to pass another realtime reporting test before the reporter can begin training or working as a captioner.  Finally, the CART consumer should always ask about a prospective CART provider’s experience and references, because quality CART providers are generally very experienced reporters and should be happy to provide references. 

Further information. 

For more information about CART or any related issues, please contact— 

Sandi Mierop, CRR, CCP, CSR

Northern Lights Realtime & Reporting, Inc.

3819 Hampton Drive

Anchorage, AK 99504


907-337-2231 fax



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