The art of it: Providing mobile CART at the Art Institute of Chicago

Cathy Rajcan, RDR, CRR, CRC, understands the importance of access in all situations. One of her regular assignments is providing CART for lectures at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Art Institute recently offered a tour to a group interested in accessibility and asked Rajcan to provide CART for the group. Since tours do not stay still, neither could Rajcan. The JCR talked to Rajcan about how she handled this mobile CART assignment.

How did you get the assignment to CART an art museum tour? How often have you done an assignment like this?

I have been providing CART for lectures at the Art Institute of Chicago for a few years. The lectures are offered to members and the general public. This was the first time I have provided mobile CART at the Art Institute, and it was a lot of fun. The event was organized in conjunction with the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium, a nonprofit volunteer organization that has been facilitating various cultural venues in Chicago to create welcoming environments for people with disabilities. This particular event was focused on making visual art more accessible to people who are blind or have low vision, and participants were learning how to audio-describe the artwork they were observing. The Art Institute has WiFi throughout the building, which is very helpful in making communication access available to large groups.

Does the Art Institute offer CART regularly for tours and other events, or was this organized separately?

The Art Institute of Chicago has been providing ASL-interpreted tours for a couple years, and I have been discussing with their education department making the mobile CART available for the tours specifically for people who have hearing loss but do not use ASL. CART captioning has been made available particularly to mature audiences, who have a higher incidence of hearing loss.

Cathy Rajcan, on left, writes on her steno machine, which is strapped to her with a harness. At right, a tour guide talks about a piece of art for a museum guest.What is your setup for mobile CART?

For mobile CART, I loaded my CAT software onto my tablet and Bluetoothed my Diamonte to the tablet. From the tablet I sent my realtime stream to an Internet platform, and then provided the URL to the tour attendees so that additional people could view the CART stream from their handheld devices and smartphones. The setup with the mobile table is quite different ergonomically. I practiced on several occasions in advance prior to providing mobile CART to become comfortable writing while standing and getting my steno machine situated in the best way possible. I also told the docent in advance to please only speak while stopped rather than while walking, which would maintain a high degree of accuracy — I told them, “This is much more difficult than walking and chewing gum!” My steno machine was attached to the mobile table with a large commercial strength Velcro circle as well as a small stabilizing strap for extra peace of mind — it is, after all, a $5,000 piece of equipment!

What were some of the words and phrases you made sure you had in your dictionary for this assignment?

This was literally “thinking on my feet” as far as consciously recalling the unique dictionary entries I have created for art-related names and terms. I have approximately 200 specifically unique job dictionaries that I use according to the topic and setting. My Art Institute dictionary is approximately 400 entries; however, I always request in advance of a CART assignment prep materials for that particular day, and then I study those entries prior to the event. This tour was in the Modern Wing, which currently houses the Edlis/Neesen Contemporary Art collection, a gift from Stefan Edlis, a Chicago-based art collector and philanthropist, and his wife Gael Neesen. In addition to the donors’ names, I included in my dictionary the names of artists who created the pieces — e.g. Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Katharina Fritsch, and Jasper Johns — and the names of some of the pieces, such as Liz # 3, Target, and Woman with Dog (Frau mit Hund).

Was this assignment related to your personal interests at all?

I have a true appreciation for visual, musical, and performing arts. Other than my unique skill as a court reporter and captioner and some domestic textile talents, I am not gifted in the arts. Although several years ago a friend of mine who is a master violinist explained to me that we all have various talents, and those with skills in the performing arts and fine arts are grateful for those of us who appreciate their talents and are audience members and enthusiasts. Having provided realtime captioning at performing arts events, I have gained a great appreciation for the abilities of performers to memorize and perform the dialogue and lyrics in plays and musicals. They are truly amazing!

Cathy Rajcan, RDR, CRR, CRC, is a CART captioner in Wheaton, Ill. She can be reached at

Recognize innovative business strategies with the JCR Awards

JCR Awards - TheJCR comThe JCR Awards are a way to tell compelling stories that bring to life innovative and successful business strategies from the past year. Originally conceived as a way to recognize and highlight the exemplary professionalism, community service, and business practices of NCRA members, the JCR Awards seek nominations for several subcategories, such as best-in-class stories for: Marketing and customer service; Leadership, teambuilding, and mentoring; Use of technology; Community outreach; Service in a nonlegal setting; and Court Reporting & Captioning Week (2016) initiative. In addition, NCRA is looking for a firm and an individual who show excellence in more than one category for an overall “Best of the Year” award.

Any current NCRA member in good standing, with the exception of students, may be nominated for these awards. Court reporters, captioners, videographers, scopists, teachers and school administrators, and court reporting managers are all eligible for nomination. Nominate a noteworthy court reporter, captioner, videographer, scopist, teacher, school administrator, or court reporting manager or a group, such as firms, courthouses, or court reporting programs. Self-nominations are accepted. More information about specific criteria for each of the categories is available on the JCR Awards Entry Form.

To enter, submit a written entry to the JCR between 300 and 1,000 words explaining the strategies implemented and why they were successful. Ancillary materials, such as photos, may also be submitted with the nomination. Nominations will be considered based on the best fact-based story. Please be prepared to offer documentation, verifiable sources, or other assistance as needed to be considered for these awards. The stories of the finalists will be published as featured articles in the March JCR.

Nominations are due by Oct. 31Read more about the JCR Awards.

See last year’s winners. 

How TCRA and NCRA worked together to provide the CRC in Texas

By Cindy Hinds

This year, the Texas Court Reporters Association (TCRA) worked in conjunction with NCRA to bring the NCRA Certified Realtime Captioner Workshop to the Texas convention. In addition, the TCRA CART/Captioning Committee was able to bring the program to its members for only the cost of the convention. This article explains our joint venture and how we paid for it without passing all the costs to the CRC attendees.

The CART/Captioning Committee determined that we had taught our last “CART 101” class at a state convention. The basic “This is CART” course wasn’t really helping anyone. It didn’t tell court reporters how to get started in CART; it wasn’t helping our professional CART captioners become more knowledgeable in their field; and the few TCRA CART captioners on the Texas roster had grown weary of talking to themselves. (I say that with great affection, as I am one of those few Texas captioners.) The committee wanted to supply more value for the captioners’ convention dollar as well as reach out to the court reporters who were interested in CART. We wanted all members, and especially CART captioning members, to walk away with some benefit for the money paid and time spent at the convention. We also hoped that bringing something new to Texas might serve to bring more CART captioning members into TCRA, thus increasing our membership. We are never going to get past CART 101 if we do not grow our CART captioning membership.

After much discussion about different “canned” programs that we might invite, the committee determined that bringing the whole CRC program to Texas from NCRA would be a great value for our members. Just think: For the cost of the convention itself, a member could earn CEUs, complete one leg of the CRC certification, and gain all the intangible benefits of attending a convention. But how would we pay for a program such as the CRC and the expense that comes with it without overburdening the attendees? We found the answer in our history.

TCRA, as it turns out, has a long history of being proactive where CART is concerned. Almost 20 years ago, a small group who recognized the potential for CART formed the CART Foundation in order to pursue grants to train CART writers and to help pay for CART projects. The CART projects would serve as proof of the effectiveness of CART in the classroom. Over the six or so years that the foundation existed, they hired grant writers and petitioned the proper state agency — in Texas, that agency is the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (or DARS) — for grants in order to train CART providers and to fund CART projects. The foundation was also awarded some monetary gifts from interested private citizens.

Then the CART Foundation decided to dissolve because there simply were not enough people to carry the torch. The organization granted the money it raised back to DARS with the requirement that the money be used to train CART writers. There the money sat until TCRA came and asked for it again more than ten years later for the very same reason. DARS was happy to grant the money to TCRA to bring NCRA’s CRC program for the purposes of training CART captioners who would then offer a valuable service to the community that they serve. Our request was made by a simple letter from the Executive Director of TCRA and a contact person who simply called attention to our request.

While the CART Foundation found it necessary to hire a grant writer in the 1990s in order to get the grant from the government agency, we were able to obtain the funds this time with a simple letter. Would that have been possible if we hadn’t already exchanged this money in the past? Most likely not.

Before we secured the funds, we did a lot of back-and-forth discussion between NCRA and TCRA to negotiate the terms. This was new territory for both associations, so it did take a bit longer than we would have liked. We agreed to pay NCRA’s licensing fees for the program, which is a great program. The agreement also covered traveling expenses for the two instructors who would be representing the national association in Texas. After a bit of math, we ascertained that if we were able to get 28 people to the convention and pay for the program, it would bring us to the break-even point financially, meaning TCRA would incur no loss to offer the program for only the cost of the convention.

TCRA was responsible for the advertisement, and we accomplished this solely through electronic means and word of mouth. Our top priority was to supply the seminar to our members for no more than the cost of the convention. We also wanted to give people a choice of attending only the CRC program without the rest of the convention, so we offered the course as a standalone choice at an even cheaper cost than we charged for the full convention. We charged nonmembers more than members, yet still at a small discount to the price of NCRA’s online CRC seminar offering. NCRA earned a little money, and TCRA gained a few more interested members. The CRC workshop was very well rated in the survey given after the Texas convention, and both associations consider the venture a big success with only a few wrinkles to iron out.

Some things we will work on, should we decide to do this again in Texas, is paying attention to some details. In Texas, Certified Shorthand Reporters (CSRs) are to get a set number of ethics credits every two years to meet the CEU requirements for the CSR. When we presented the CRC program to our state governing body for CEU approval, we failed to get recognition for the ethics component in the CRC program itself. As a result, many attendees had to choose between staying at the CRC and completing that program or leaving and attending one of the ethics programs in the general convention, which were not offered at convenient times to allow the CRC attendees to attend. We also discovered the same problem in certification testing. It will be possible to avoid these conflicts in the future, but it will take careful planning.

While this joint venture with NCRA was revolutionary, we realize the funding story is a bit uninspiring since all we really did was trade money with the same state agency a few times. Since a group of Texas reporters managed to accomplish this in the 1990s, there is no real achievement there. However, I would point to the efforts of the CART Foundation members who did secure those funds from DARS in the first place. Their efforts to win those grants and train CART captioners when CART was in its infancy is quite inspiring. The real inspiration here is that, if it was possible in the 1990s when CART was something we had to sell as effective communication access, it should definitely be possible now with years of proof that CART is a valuable tool in helping the deaf community gain access to realtime communication in almost any setting.

So, CART captioners who are involved with your state agencies, get busy! Bringing NCRA’s CRC Workshop to your state convention could serve to benefit many different people. The CART writers get trained; the state organization stirs interest and builds membership; the members get something of real value to take with them from the convention; and the deaf consumer benefits from a more educated CART captioner. Also, I urge you to pursue grants from the agency that serves the deaf and hard of hearing in your state. You might find that you can gain all these benefits at no extra cost to your members.

Cindy Hinds of Mabank, Texas, is a broadcast captioner and a participating member of NCRA. She can be contacted at She extends her thanks to the TCRA CART/Captioning Committee, including Terry McGinty, RDR, CRR, CRC; Whitney Riley, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI; Tess Stephenson; Kathleen Ullrich; and Kristi Usery.

100 percent of Hulu’s full-length content to be closed captioned by Sept. 2017

Hulu announced that it has entered into a settlement agreement with the National Association of the Deaf to provide closed captioning for all of its full-length English and Spanish content by September 2017, according to an article posted Sept. 6 by Videoink.

Read more.

JCR Awards nominations open through Oct. 31

Nominate yourself or a noteworthy court reporter, captioner, videographer, scopist, teacher, school administrator, or court reporting manager for recognition through the JCR Awards. Conceived as a way to recognize and highlight the exemplary professionalism, community service, and business practices of NCRA members, the JCR Awards is a way to tell compelling stories that bring to life innovative and successful business strategies from the past year. In addition to nominations for several subcategories, NCRA is looking for a firm and an individual who show excellence in more than one category for an overall “Best of the Year” award.

Any current NCRA member in good standing, with the exception of students, may be nominated for these awards. Court reporters, captioners, videographers, scopists, teachers and school administrators, and court reporting managers are all eligible for nomination. Self-nominations are accepted. Firms, courthouses, or court reporting programs may be nominated as a group as long as they meet the criteria for membership for one of the definitions in the JCR Awards Entry Form.

To nominate yourself or someone else, submit a written entry to the JCR between 300 and 1,000 words explaining the strategies you implemented and why they were successful. Ancillary materials, such as photos, may also be submitted with the nomination. Nominations will be considered by the JCR editorial team based on the best fact-based story. Please be prepared to offer documentation, verifiable sources, or other assistance as needed to be considered for these awards. The stories of the finalists will be published as featured articles in the March JCR.

Nominations are due by Oct. 31. Read more about the JCR Awards.

NCRA joins in tour of NIH Research Center

The National Institute of Health offered a tour of its facilities to representatives of the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus. Matthew Barusch, Manager, State Government Affairs for NCRA, joined 25 congressional staffers and hearing health advocates on the tour of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) Porter Neuroscience Research Center in Bethesda, Md.

“NCRA has long supported the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus and appreciates the value of events such as this brings to the constituents and stakeholders of the many organizations that support it,” said Barusch. “Learning more about the latest research that can lead to positive impacts on the lives of the people who are deaf or hard of hearing is so important to bringing awareness to lawmakers and the public about the many issues that surround broadcast and CART captioning and, overall, hearing health.”

Read more.

University of Arizona adds captioning to its sporting events

On Aug. 22, the University of Arizona posted an update on its sports website, The post explained improvements the organization has made to its sports venues to help provide an equitable fan experience for everyone. Among the most notable improvements is captioning of all events.

Read more.

Florida to offer closed captioning for high school standard assessments

The Orlando Sentinel, Orlando, Fla., reported on Aug. 24 that Florida will soon offer closed captioning to students who are deaf or hard of hearing who need that service to complete a listening section of the state’s key language arts exam.

Read more.

CART CAPTIONING: Oh, the places we go! A day in the life of a CART captioner

Lisa Richardson captions a rodeo

Lisa Richardson captions a rodeo

By Lisa Richardson

I’ve captioned and CARTed a lot of events in my time: graduations, funerals, a wedding, meetings, a bar conversation, and many different classes, just to name a few. But never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d be captioning a rodeo. I mean, really? A rodeo?

How did this happen? Well, I have a client (we’ll call him R.T.) who loves the rodeo and, because of his hearing loss, going to see his friends participate was really frustrating for him, as I’m sure you can imagine. There’s so much going on, and he can’t hear a darn thing.

I’ll admit, though, when he first asked me if I’d do it, I was less than excited. I’m just not the biggest rodeo fan. I had never been to a rodeo in my life! Plus, what about all the dirt and dust? Where will I sit? How will R.T. be able to read the computer screen; will it be too bright outside? How will I hear? Controlled audio is one thing but sitting outside, listening to a general public address system, with lots of folks in the audience? Yikes!

Luckily, R.T. put me in touch with a good friend of his, S.G., who is very involved with this particular rodeo organization, and after a few conversations, we had a tentative plan in place that he felt would work, keeping me and my equipment as protected as possible.

Okay, we’ve got a plan, so my anxiety started to subside … Wait! What would I wear? Deciding on appropriate attire for some of these CART captioning jobs can be really challenging! You always want to fit in with the group, but it can be a real guessing game with some assignments. Like the time I showed up for a retreat in a business suit and everyone else was in sweats!

Anyway, I mentioned my dilemma to my neighbor, and she had the perfect answer: jeans and cowboy boots. Okay, I could’ve figured out the jeans, but I didn’t have any cowboy boots. Why would I have cowboy boots? I’m a city girl! My neighbor, being the dream she is, had cowboy boots! And they fit! Okay, this is all coming together. (And I knew R.T. would love seeing the boots.)

The day finally came, and I made my way to the rodeo. It had been incredibly hot the week before, so along with being nervous about the setup and what I was in for, I was also worried about the heat and hoped for a break from the hot sun, not only for me but for my equipment.

I met up with R.T., along with S.G. and another gentleman, J.G., who told me he was there to take care of me for the day. Wow, I wish I could have one of those at every job.

And take care of me they did. They’d arranged to have a canopy set up right by the arena railing so I could see and hear, and I would also be protected from the sun. Then they ran a long power cord to me, so I had electricity to run both computers all afternoon. And to top it all off, they had a fan, just for me! I felt like a real diva — a rodeo diva! Okay, I thought. Bring it on. I’m ready.

For the setup, I had a separate computer for R.T., so he could sit wherever he wanted. I ended up using a program that allowed me to really manipulate the screen colors and font size to allow for the best screen visibility, even in the sun! He was even able to sit in the bleachers, until he realized I had a better seat, and it was shaded.

It turned out to be a very fun day. Sometimes it was hard to understand the announcer on the public address system, but I was able to get enough so R.T. knew who was in the arena and what was going on. Sometimes people would stand around us, talking and yelling to friends, also making it hard to hear the announcer so I’d write what I could hear the people yelling. Equal access, right? The good and the bad! A lot of people also wanted to know what I was doing and why was I recording the rodeo. It turned into a really good opportunity to promote captioning and court reporting!

There were barrel races, bull riding, steer roping, a parade, and even a goat dressing contest! Yep, you read that one correctly. At a signal, two people would run to the goat and one would hold the goat while the other had to put underpants on the poor adorable goat. The teams were timed and whoever had the best time was the winner. It may sound easy, but it was amusingly difficult. It didn’t help that the goats were not at all happy with being on display in such a way.

And then, just like that, it was all over. The events were done, and it was time to leave. Boy, the time sure went fast. But I was also wiped out and ready to be home. Listening and performing all day is hard work.

Would I do it again? You bet. And next time, I won’t worry so much. For this job, I already know what to wear!

Lisa Richardson, RPR, CRR, CRC, of Robbinsdale, Minn., is a broadcast captioner. She can be reached at

Captioning the moment: UTRGV spring grads will see their names on the big screen

An article posted by the Valley Town Crier on May 12 about the spring commencement ceremonies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley showcases how CART providers will make the experience more fulfilling for visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing by ensuring each graduate’s name appears on the big screens during the event.

Read more.