Disability on campus: ‘Deafness creates certain preconceived (and rather shallow) notions even to this day’

JCR logoOn May 17, Times Higher Education published its first of a series of stories about life on campus with a disability. Author Brenda Jo Brueggemann, professor and Aetna chair of writing at the University of Connecticut, addresses hearing loss and discusses her use of a realtime captioner.

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NCRA member earns award for service to the disability community

Karla Martin poses with Mayor Mark Mitchell after receiving her award

Karla Martin poses with Mayor Mark Mitchell after receiving her award

On April 25, Karla Martin, RPR, was presented with the Business Leadership Award at the 29th Annual Mayor’s Disability Awards in Tempe, Ariz. She was recognized for her work in CART captioning, including covering deaf and hard-of-hearing events and for her volunteer work with the emergency responder interpreter credentialing pilot program. Martin answered a few questions for the JCR Weekly about her background in CART captioning and what the award means to her.

Tell me about what kind of work you do and who some of your clients are.

I provide CART captioning services for several state agencies in Arizona, and I have provided services on-site and remotely for Arizona State University (ASU) and most of the community colleges in the Phoenix metro area. I also work with the Arizona Superior Court providing CART captioning for parties in civil and criminal cases. One of my most fun gigs is captioning live theater on cruise ships. I know it sounds so fun, but it can be challenging showing up and not knowing exactly what the setup and demands of the job will be.

Even though my focus is on CART captioning, I still take medical malpractice depositions that comprise possibly 10 to 20 percent of my total business. It’s true that real life can be so much more interesting than fiction, and I love what I learn every day on the job. I think it’s ironic that I have learned so much about working in court as a CART captioner. I worked as a freelance reporter taking depositions prior to transitioning to CART captioning.

How were you nominated for the Business Leadership Award?

I was nominated for the Community Service Award by Michele Michaels, who is the hard-of-hearing specialist for the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. I have been providing CART services for several of the local Hearing Loss Association of America groups for a number of years, and I believe that is one of the reasons Michele nominated me. When the decision was made, I was awarded the Business Leadership Award. I feel like I do fit in both categories.

The mission statement of the awards event is: “Since 1988 Tempe has proudly presented the Mayor’s Disability Awards honoring excellence in individuals with disabilities, employers, and others who have shown dedication to the equality, inclusion, and commitment to improving the quality of life for all Tempe residents. The goal of this annual event is to encourage everyone to work towards a fully inclusive and accessible Tempe.”

I live in Tempe, and I have played flute and piccolo in Tempe Symphony since 1990. This is a community symphony, and all of the players are volunteers. My first CART work was at ASU, also located in Tempe. I am also an advocate for animals, and I have served on boards of animal welfare organizations.

What does it mean to have been recognized for your work within the community?

I’m honored to be recognized by the City of Tempe. I’ve been committed to providing services for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community for over 20 years. I took four semesters of American Sign Language so I could better communicate with clients and colleagues who were Deaf. One of my favorite things about CART work is the appreciation expressed by clients. It’s so rewarding when someone randomly thanks you for the service they received.

Did you have any idea you were being considered?

Yes, I knew that I was being nominated. Michele requested information from me to assist her in the nomination process. I had attended the event a few times in the past, and I had secretly hoped one day I would receive an award.

Why is providing CART to those with hearing loss so important to you?

There are many reasons providing CART is important. It’s an accommodation for a protected class of individuals under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Our services provide communication access for our consumers’ safety, health, education, training, legal matters, and entertainment. Some days the importance is to raise the awareness of our services to administrators and disability resource managers of high schools, colleges, and hospitals. Other days it’s demonstrating to consumers what is possible with CART captioning technology to enhance their lives by receiving equal access to communication at their workplace.

How long have you been a CART captioner? Were you a freelancer or official court reporter prior? How long have you provided CART services?

I started providing CART for ASU in 1995. At the time I was working as a freelance deposition reporter. I started with some evening classes because I didn’t want to turn down depo work. After that it was a transition process. In 2005, I took a part-time staff position at ASU for a few years.

How did you enter the profession? How long have you been in the profession?

My first job as a reporter was at a freelance agency in Rochester, N.Y., in January of 1979. At that time I had been out of school for four months and passed part of my Illinois CSR. I was working as a legal secretary in Decatur, Ill. I moved to New York for the opportunity to work immediately since they didn’t require certification. It was a really busy firm, and I started taking medical malpractice depos six months after starting work as a freelancer. I had a great mentor reporter there. The firm was one of the first to embrace computer-assisted translation, as it was called then. After two years, I moved to Arizona for warmer weather.

Where did you go to school?

I decided to pick up court reporting as a “minor” while I was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in applied music at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. Between the flute and my machine, I spent the majority of my last two years of college in a practice room. I didn’t know what court reporting was until I had two roommates at college one summer who were finishing their internship and told me when they got out of school, they were going to “make a lot of money.”

What has been the most rewarding part of your career?

It’s rewarding for me when I work with someone who is going to school, and then later after they graduate and are working in their chosen field, we end up working together or see each other at disability-related events. It’s always rewarding when clients graduate from their programs of study, especially when I attend or work their graduation ceremonies. I like to believe I contributed to their success.

Please add any additional information you feel would be helpful to include.

Several government agencies in Arizona partnered in 2016 to create the Arizona Emergency Response Interpreter Training for ASL interpreters and CART captioners. The agencies are the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing, Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, Department of Forestry and Fire Management, and Maricopa County. I am one of three CART captioners in Arizona who were selected, trained, and received the emergency response interpreter credential. The program is a pilot, and the sponsoring agencies are hopeful other states will follow Arizona’s lead and create emergency response training programs for interpreters and CART captioners in their states.

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 efficiencyrptg@cs.com.

Letter to editor states need for disabilities act for Canadians

jcr-publications_high-resThe Huffington Post Canada posted a blog on Jan. 27 that recounts the experience of a citizen who is deaf who attended a town-hall meeting featuring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The meeting did not have CART access. The author uses the blog to explain why Canadians need a disabilities act.

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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 lisarichardson@paradigmreporting.com.