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Make Meetings Accessible for Deaf Team Members with Live Captions and CART Captions

In the dynamic landscape of today’s workplaces, ensuring accessibility for all employees is of paramount importance. One area where accessibility plays a crucial role is in meetings. This article explores the wonders of live captions or CART captioning, also known as real-time captions, and how they revolutionize communication access for individuals who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing.

cart captioning

What are Live Captions? 

Live captions are a real-time, text-based representation of spoken words that appear on the screen during meetings or video conferences. Just like subtitles in a movie, live captions provide a visual aid that allows individuals to follow along with the conversation effortlessly. They can be enhanced by assistive listening devices. 

For those who rely on lip-reading or face challenges in understanding spoken language, live captions are a vital lifeline. They can help people to participate more fully in conversations, to access information and education, and to feel more included in society.

Benefits of Live Captions

Live captions are advantageous, fostering a more inclusive and engaging environment for Deaf employees and their colleagues:

  • Inclusivity: Live captions break down barriers and create a sense of belonging for Deaf team members. By enabling their active participation in meetings, live captions promote collaboration and ensure equal communication access. 
  • Comprehension: With the power of visual aids and real time captioning, comprehension levels improve. They offer support to individuals who rely on lip-reading or who may struggle with following spoken language, ensuring that important information is fully accessible. Live captions leave no room for misinterpretation or missed details.
  • Multilingual Support: Live captions are a suitable tool for diverse and multicultural workplaces. By offering the option for translation of several different languages, seamless communication becomes possible and language barriers are of no concern, facilitating effective collaboration and unity.

How to Enable Live Captions

Enabling live captions on popular video conferencing platforms is easier than ever. Here’s a step-by-step guide for enabling live captions on some popular platforms:

For Zoom Accessibility:

  1. Sign in to your Zoom account.
  2. Go to the “Settings” tab.
  3. Scroll down to the “In Meeting (Advanced)” section and enable the “Closed Captioning” option.
  4. Start or join a meeting.
  5. Click the “Closed Caption” button at the bottom of the screen.
  6. Choose either “Enable Auto-Transcription” for automatic captions or assign a participant to type captions manually.

For Microsoft Teams Accessibility:

  1. Open Microsoft Teams and join a meeting.
  2. Click on the three-dot menu icon (More actions) in the meeting controls.
  3. Select “Turn on live captions” from the dropdown menu.

For Google Meet Accessibility:

  1. Start or join a Google Meet session.
  2. Click on the three-dot menu icon in the bottom right corner.
  3. Select “Captions” from the dropdown menu.
  4. Choose the desired language for captions.

By following these simple steps, you can unlock the power of live captions and create a more inclusive and accessible meeting environment for all participants.

CART Captioning: Unlocking Accurate and Customizable Captions

In the realm of accessibility, CART captioning is a particularly valuable tool that doesn’t just benefit Deaf and hard-of-hearing people, but can be beneficial for others without disabilities too.  CART captioning solutions can be customized to meet the specific needs of the user, and offers superior accuracy compared to live captions. Let’s explore the wonders of communication access this type of captioning provides, how it’s different from live captions, and how you can seamlessly implement it into your meetings.

What is CART Captioning?

CART, short for Communication Access Realtime Translation, refers to the process of transcribing and translating spoken text and sound into words. Also called open captioning or realtime stenography, CART captions are generated by a certified stenographer. The stenographer listens to audio and then transcribes it using a special phonetic keyboard, after which it is displayed as captions either on a screen, laptop, or another device. 

Why CART Captioning Surpasses Live Captions

CART captioning surpasses live captions in various aspects, presenting notable advantages:

  1. Accuracy: Because CART captioners are trained professionals who are experts in transcribing speech, they are more in tune with the nuances of the spoken language and are able to accurately capture the speaker’s intent. Unlike automated live captions, CART captions are able to transcribe industry-specific terminology, jargon, and participant names, and more with higher accuracy. 
  1. Speed: Using a stenotype machine, stenographers can type much faster than they could on a standard keyboard, enabling them to keep up with the speaker even in fast-paced conversations. While CART captions are generated in real time, live captions are typically delayed by a few seconds or minutes.
  1. More Focused: CART captioning is not affected by background noise or other distractions which allows the captioner to focus on the speaker’s voice and ignore other sounds. 
  1. Readability: Since CART captions are generated by a human, they are typically more readable than live captions. CART captions enable a stenographer to take into account the speaker’s tone, emphasis, and other nuances that live captioning cannot process.
  1. Customization: CART services offer flexibility that automated live captions don’t. The stenographer can communicate using industry-specific terms, acronyms, or any unique vocabulary relevant to the conversation. This level of customization enhances comprehension and also ensures that the captions align perfectly with the context.
  1. Confidentiality: When sensitive topics are on the agenda, confidentiality becomes paramount. CART providers adhere to strict confidentiality agreements, making them a reliable choice for meetings where privacy is of utmost importance.

All these factors combined, make CART captioning the most accurate type of live captioning available.

How to Implement CART Captioning

Integrating CART captioning into your meetings is a straightforward process. Follow these steps:

  1. Find a CART Services Provider: Begin by searching online for a CART provider or reaching out to your local stenographer association for recommendations. Compare rates, services, and client testimonials to select a provider that aligns with your requirements.
  2. Coordinate with the CART Provider: Once you’ve chosen a suitable CART provider, coordinate with them to schedule CART captioning for your meetings. Clear communication ensures a seamless and successful implementation.

CART Captions In Teams: Step-by-Step

If you’re using Microsoft Teams for your meetings, here’s how CART captioning can be integrated:

  1. Invite the CART Captioner: Extend an invitation to the CART captioner to join your Microsoft Teams meeting.
  2. Captioning Platform: The captioner will utilize a third-party captioning platform to transcribe the meeting in real time.
  3. Caption Viewing Options: Participants can view the captions either in a separate browser window or have them integrated directly into the Teams platform, depending on the capabilities of the chosen provider.

ADA Compliance and Meeting Planning Accessibility

ADA Meeting Requirements

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has set clear guidelines for employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, including those who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing. In the context of meetings, it is crucial to ensure effective communication through accommodations such as live captions or CART captioning. Let’s explore how to make meetings more accessible and inclusive while complying with ADA requirements.

Zoom Protocols for Meetings

Zoom, a popular video conferencing platform, offers several features that can improve accessibility for Deaf employees:

  1. Pin or Spotlight Interpreter: If there is an interpreter present, pinning or spotlighting their video makes it easier for Deaf participants to follow along with their signing.
  2. Mute All: Utilize the “Mute All” feature to minimize background noise, allowing CART captioners or interpreters to accurately transcribe the conversation without distractions.
  3. Virtual Backgrounds: Encourage participants to use simple virtual backgrounds to reduce visual distractions, ensuring focus on the content being discussed.

Annual ADA Symposium

The ADA Symposium is an annual event that focuses on accessibility and inclusion for individuals with disabilities. It provides an opportunity for attendees to learn about best practices, innovative solutions, and legal updates related to the ADA. Incorporating the knowledge gained at such events can help organizations improve accessibility for all disabled employees.

Promoting the Use of Live Captions and CART Captioning To Make Meetings More Accessible

To foster a culture of inclusivity, here are some tips on how to promote live captioning and CART captioning amongst employees:

Educate Many employees may not be aware of the benefits of these services, so it’s important to educate them about how live captioning and CART captioning can help them to be more productive and engaged in meetings, training sessions, and other work-related activities.

Make Live Captioning and CART Captioning Available to All Employees This will help ensure that all employees have the opportunity to participate fully in work-related activities.

Provide Training If you are providing live captioning or CART captioning services to your employees, provide training on how to use these services. This way, employees will be able to get the most out of these services.

Encourage employees to use live captioning and CART captioning when necessary. Convey the benefits of these services, and emphasize how using them can improve accessibility for everyone. 

Prepare In Advance Sharing meeting agendas, slides, and types of visual print display with all participants before a meeting allows Deaf team members to familiarize themselves with the content. This proactive approach ensures their preparedness and active engagement during discussions.

Transcripts CART captioners can also provide transcripts of meetings and events, which can be helpful for people who want to review the information later or who need to provide a written record of the event.

Ensuring Clear Communication Access during Meetings

To facilitate clear communication, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Speak Clearly: Encourage all participants to articulate their words clearly and at a moderate pace.
  2. Use Visual Cues: Supplement verbal communication with visual aids, such as slides or whiteboards, to enhance understanding.
  3. Take Turns Speaking: Emphasize the importance of participants taking turns while speaking to avoid overlapping voices, which can make it challenging for Deaf employees to follow the conversation.

Ensuring the accessibility and inclusivity of meetings for Deaf team members is essential in today’s diverse workplaces. By implementing live captions and CART captioning, organizations can provide effective communication tools for Deaf employees, fostering collaboration and a sense of belonging. Companies need to prioritize accessibility and inclusivity for all team members, regardless of their hearing ability.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much does CART captioning cost?

A: The cost of CART services varies depending on factors such as the provider’s rates, the length of the meeting, and the complexity of the content. When selecting a CART captioning service, it’s important to compare different providers and consider the specific needs of your organization. 

Q: How can I make my meetings more accessible for Deaf employees?

A: To make meetings more accessible for Deaf employees, consider implementing live captions or CART captioning, sharing meeting materials in advance, ensuring clear communication during meetings, and promoting a culture of inclusivity.

Q: What is the best live caption app?

A: The best live caption app depends on the specific needs of your organization and the video conferencing platform you use. Popular platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet have built-in live captioning features, which may be sufficient for many users.

Q: Are closed caption telephones helpful for Deaf employees?

A: Closed caption telephones, also known as captioned telephones or CapTel, can be helpful for Deaf employees in one-on-one phone conversations. They display real-time captions of conversations, allowing the Deaf employee to read the other person’s words. However, they may not be suitable for group meetings or video conferences, where live captions or CART captioning are more appropriate.

Q: Can I customize the appearance of CART captions?

A: Yes, CART captions can often be customized in terms of font size, color, and background, depending on the captioning platform used. This allows participants to adjust the appearance of the captions to suit their preferences and improve readability.

Q: How do I encourage my team to use live captions and CART captioning?

A: To encourage your team to use live captions and CART captioning, promote a culture of inclusivity, and emphasize the benefits of these accessibility features. Provide training and resources on how to enable and use live captions and CART services in your organization’s preferred video conferencing platform.

Q: What are some examples of meeting planning accessibility?

A: Examples of meeting planning accessibility include ensuring that meeting locations are physically accessible, providing American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters or CART captioning for Deaf employees, offering materials in alternative formats (such as large print or braille), and using video conferencing platforms with built-in accessibility features like live captions.

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