on the cheap and sleazy side (www.cheapandsleazy.net)

Words by Louise Becker, RMR, CRR, CCP, CBC; XHTML by G.D. Warner

How to get a Start in CART

A CART Provider Shows the Way


Meet Louise Becker.

Post_NCRA 2008 Speed Contest

Post_NCRA 2008 Speed Contest; clockwise from left: Dee Boenau, me (Louise Becker), Darlene Pickard, Barb Griffith, Jennifer Schuck.

Louise gave a rather humorous presentation at the WCRA's educational seminar, during which she mentioned that she was a CART provider.

And guess who has been searching for a CART provider to tell my readers about CART?

After a few hours of begging and pleading -- er, quick e-mails, I managed to convince Ms. Becker to write the article you are about to read ... and yes, I am the student she mentions in the first paragraph!

Her certifications include RMR, CRR, CCP, and CBC ... and if that's not enough, she was the 2007 NCRA Realtime Champion and came in first on the lit portion in the 2008 RT contest ... and (until recently) there was a blurb about how she used Eclipse to win that 2007 contest on the Eclipse home page.

Also, she is the owner of Regis Realtime Captioning, Inc. in Olympia, Washington. ... so yes, she knows what she's doing.



Recently, I received an email from a local court reporting student asking how to get started as a CART (that's Commuications Access Realtime Translation, in case you were wondering) provider, what equipment is needed, etc.

First off, when I started doing CART work back in 1993, there were very few paid CART providers around the country and even fewer jobs that existed.

I learned about CART work from an online forum for court reporters and frequently went there for advice when I was just starting out. I started out by providing volunteer CART services for the local chapter of Self-Help for Hard of Hearing people, or SHHH, which is now known as Hearing Loss Association of America. The volunteer work was a great experience and allowed me to fine-tune my skills and learn the equipment.

Back in those days, I had to haul my desktop computer to the meeting and hook up to the large-screen TV set using an Averkey. In 1994, I was able to scrape up enough money to purchase a laptop computer. Today, Averkeys sell for around $69 and allow you to hook up a notebook computer to a TV set. I have an S-Video port on my notebook computer just in case I forget to bring the Averkey with me to a meeting (it happened once). Projectors are also very affordable and many CART providers use those for meetings.

A number of the CART jobs today are one-on-one, where the CART provider is providing realtime for one, perhaps two students with hearing loss, at a local school. Sometimes another student who has a different type of disability receives a copy of the notes. There are also remote CART site jobs available and the opportunities continue to grow.

If CART work is of interest to you, in my opinion, the best way to successfully pursue this career would be to work towards finishing the court reporting program at your school and pass your 180 wpm lit, 200 wpm jury charge, and 225 wpm QA tests. A number of times, I've heard the question, "Why should I pass the 225 QA tests if I'm not going to be a court reporter?" Couple of reasons.

First off, it's good to have a back-up plan in case you don't like CART work or if there are not be a lot of available jobs in your area.

You'll want to pass your state's court reporter exam as well as the RPR as a minimum for certifications and that will make for a less difficult career transition.

Second, you'll still need all the speed you can muster to work as a CART provider.

Third, many clients that hire CART providers do look for certification, so even though it may not be required, it will likely lead to more opportunities.

Lastly, you may want to pursue advanced certifications like the Certified Realtime Reporter, Certified CART Provider, Certified Broadcast Captioner, and/or the Registered Merit Reporter. Those tests all require speed and accuracy in your writing. In order to increase the accuracy of your writing, you need to have a faster comfort speed (remember how easy those 160 wpm tests were after you were passing your 180 wpm test?).

School Days

While you're in school, concentrate on your realtime skills and working on your dictionary to improve your realtime translation. I usually recommend that students build their own dictionaries as well. Use a lot of root words, suffixes, and prefixes. Learn the features of your software and how it can help you with things like smart suffix endings and phonetic translation of untranslates. Remember, it's the quality of your dictionary, not the size. My dictionary has never exceeded 40,000 entries. Many captioners and/or CART providers have dictionaries with over 300,000 entries. To me, that seems like it would be hard to manage, but the end translation is what matters most.

When you start passing your 180-200 wpm tests, I would highly recommend sitting in with a professional CART provider. A few times a year, I have folks sit in with me. Prior to sitting in, ask what you'll be sitting in on and do your best to research the subject and show up prepared. Ask the CART provider what speaker identifications he/she uses and put them in a job dictionary (I use ">> Instructor:" for the teacher and ">>" for other students). If you're using the same software as the CART provider, ask if that person could email a copy of his/her settings files.

If you're sitting in on a college class, go to the college's website and research the class. Many college classes have the syllabus, homework assignments, and Power Point slides for the class lectures on the website.

Be sure to follow directions, show up on time, and set up and sit where that person asks you to. After sitting in, ask the CART provider if he/she has time to answer a few questions. Don't be shy about asking questions; this is your golden opportunity. Perhaps even offer to assist that person with some volunteer CART work. Make a good impression on that person and he/she might even refer a couple of paying jobs your way.


As far as the equipment necessary to work as a CART provider, you will need the following:

•   A reliable notebook computer with a good quality monitor

•   A CAT program that's able to change colors and fonts, handle phonetic translations, and export files using a variety of different formats

•   A writer

The writer doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, just reliable and able to do realtime -- I still use a Stentura 400, although I am looking at upgrading to a wireless writer.

If you're interested in providing CART for meetings or groups of people, then you would need some type of projection equipment.

Parting Advice

When you begin to work as a CART provider, do your best to stick with jobs that you're able to do competently. Although you may occasionally find yourself in over your head (I've had English classes that were far more difficult than some chemistry classes), use good judgment when accepting assignments. If you've only been working for a few months, it probably wouldn't be a good idea to accept an assignment where you would need to be writing a computer programming lecture for an entire day. It's best to work closely or maintain contact with a professional CART provider/mentor throughout your first year or two of working. That person could help answer questions about ethical issues, preparing for an assignment, technical problems, etc.

Follow this blueprint, continue to work on your skills, never, ever assume that your skills are good enough (always room for improvement), and you'll be a success before you know it!