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CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation)

Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is the process of converting speech to text in real-time, it is not only useful to the deaf and hard of hearing, it can also help those whose first language is different to the one being used. CART is used in law courts, theatre, presentations and many other places to display a speaker’s words on a screen; it is also used to provide closed captions for live television programs.

TV programs captioned using CART appear in the same way as those whose captions were created before the broadcast, typically with the text at the bottom of the screen. Whereas the pre-made captions will match the spoken words verbatim and appear in sync, CART captions may be a second or so after the spoken word and may contain some errors.

How CART is performed

Obviously the text produced with CART needs to be shown as quickly as possible so that the reader can keep up with the proceedings, but an accurate representation of the spoken words is also needed for reader comprehension. Individuals and companies who offer CART services will use a stenography machine (also known as stenotype or shorthand machine) to convert the spoken words into a shorthand notation that is then converted into readable text for display. The shorthand notation that is produced will have one letter or symbol representing one of more words, making it much quicker to type than the full English representation.

Becoming a certified CART provider is no mean feat and can take years of practice, certified providers can convert around 260 words per minute with a 98% accuracy.