Accessibility CART (live captioning) Hearing Loss Hearing Technology Personal advocacy

Accommodations: Behind the Scenes

What happens behind the scenes when we request accommodations? A lot more than we generally know. We love seeing people request accommodations, such as CART/live captioning. However, there are a few more steps we can take to ensure better outcomes and that’s what we’ll discuss this month.

In December 2021, we sat down for a podcast titled “Hearing Loss LIVE! Talks Live Theater Captions with Vicki Turner” (captioned video here, or look for our audio version on our buzzsprout channel, or your preferred streaming platform). Vicki does the captions for Broadway Across America plays and more. In the podcast, she tells us how many hours she puts into each play and what needs to happen before show night. (Check out Turner Reporting & Captioning Services.) Taking a page from Vicki, there are some things we can do to make sure we have better experiences when we request an accommodation.

Vicki coming out of an elevator with a dolly with her equipment that's almost taller than her. Vicki has shoulder length blond hair and is wearing a black jacket.
Vicki Turner with her theater captioning equipment.
Better Outcomes for Accessibility

Julia: Once you’ve requested CART (communication access real-time translation), it’s my job to work with the vendor to make your dreams come true. If the vendor, or venue, is open to working with me, it truly is your dream come true. I want to share what happens behind the scenes of CART so that you have the option to assist with questions when you request it.  

The biggest thing you need to know as the consumer is that every event will take different types of prep work. I wish I could outline every event in this blog but you all would be bug eyed. Instead, I will share a couple of regular captioning assignments I have. Take a look at the process based on some of my upcoming events.


Let it be known I love attending sporting events! Watching it on TV…not so much. I was excited when asked to cover sporting events onsite at one of our local universities. I will give a nod to the University of Utah for their work on inclusion by incorporating captions at their sports events where they can.

Just to be clear, I am not a broadcast captioner, someone who captions television shows. My job at the university is to caption the stadium announcer to the Jumbotron. There is a difference.

Most of the hard work happens in the days prior to a game. Did you know there are over a 100 football players on a roster? Most of these players will not see even a minute of play time while I caption. Even though they might not play, my dictionary must be ready just in case. I transfer every player’s name to a word document as I create a memorable shorthand note for that name in my stenography program. Then, I organize each team for captioning with starting lineup possibilities.

For game days, I arrive early so we can run a caption test. By this time we have what is called the run of show and I can review who the starting line ups are. It tells me if the Star Spangled banner will be sung by a person or if it’s instrumental, and what the halftime entertainment will be. Halftime can be anything from a silly costume race around the stadium or arena, a youth mini sports tournament, retiring of a former player’s jersey or recognition of an important local figure.

How CART happens behind the scenes. Julia gives us a snapshot of how she works her accommodation. The football roster, to a document to stenography keyboard.
Julia gives us a peak into how she sets up her dictionary for live captioning.

This is my behind the scenes process for captioning sporting events. How’s your area for captioning college sports? Have you asked for captions? While it’s a process it’s not that hard, especially with cooperation from the venues. It’s amazing what a group of students or alumni can accomplish. I’m happy to give advice as needed.

College Course

How much prep is needed is going to depend on class material. We build a dictionary specific to the classes, foreign language will be a completely different dictionary than chemistry. In previous blogs and podcasts, I have talked about how I design my captioning around each student’s needs.  

Most classes I have access to the course material through Canvas (Canvas is used as an online student portal in most educational institutions). This allows me to read through the lecture slides prior to class. When possible, the Student Resource Center gives me access to the text books.

Most professors are very helpful with getting me access to course material. As a consumer, you can help me with the one professor who might be leery of an outsider wanting access to a class. Let the professor know this helps you to have a better experience, because I will have the correct terms in my dictionary. This helps you better understand what he’s teaching and helps you with class participation.

Conventions, Business Meetings and more…

I hope you can attend our Let’s Talk Tuesday next week for more of what happens behind the scenes on captioning. We added a list of companion blogs and podcasts at the bottom which relate this topic, including a request for CART. Each post/podcast will give you some insight on what to expect when you want to request live captions/CART.

Behind the Scenes for Assistive Listening

Chelle:  Over the last few months, I’ve discovered that while venues have the best of intentions, they don’t understand assistive listening. They will buy devices without taking the time to learn how they work best. I understand assistive listening enough that I can let them know, “That’s not going to work and here’s why…” Yet they don’t believe me because their technology department bought it and they should know. Unfortunately, they did not know what they bought.

Assistive Listening, Before You Buy…

So what needs to happen behind the scenes for assistive listening? I talked with Listen Technologies, who manufactures assistive listening systems. Here are some of their suggestions. Here’s what they had to say.

“We recently created a System Recommendation Tool that lives on our website for this very purpose. It goes through a series of questions to determine what system is right for the venue, it’s kinda fun to go through…here is the link.

What to Consider When Buying a System?

What are some things that should be considered before a venue buys an assistive listening, I asked Listen Technologies? Here are their suggestions.

  • Do you need a stationary or portable system?
  • What application are you using it for:Assistive Listening & Compliance, interpretation, tours or training?
  • Where are you located? (California laws are slightly different than the standard ADA guidelines.)
  • What is the room capacity? From there the tool will ‘recommend’ the number of receivers/neck loops and give you options for what type of technology will work.
  • Other considerations:
    • Do you need a secure audio signal (IR cannot travel through walls)?  
    • It’s also important to understand the goals of the venue. If a venue wants to provide assistive listening to a broader audience, then an IR (infrared), RF (radio frequency), or Wi-Fi system is recommended. 
    • If the intent is to primarily work with hearing aids, then a hearing loop will work. Loops can be expensive to install, especially in an existing space. It requires some renovation. Loops work without hearing aids, by using receivers or other devices that have a telecoil.  (Hearing Loss LIVE! wrote a post on hearing loops for more information.)
It’s all about options. 

Here’s something else that Listen Technologies does; they hold live webinars every month or so geared towards people in the professional AV industry. The webinar covers the basics of listening systems and ADA law. Anybody is welcome to sign up. They also have a recorded version that can be accessed at leisure, it’s on the training page of our website. Just click on view webinar and sign up to receive the link.

Include the HoH Community

I’d like to add, make sure you’re working with the Hard of Hearing (HoH) community too. There is valuable input within the community. Bring us to the table so we can share our insight as well. Get true representation from the community, in fact make it several people.  You might find an HLAA chapter nearby or you can contact the state Deaf and Hard of Hearing agency. Working behind the scenes together will create happier outcomes.

Would you like to learn more?

See our companion podcast on YouTube, or pick it up on your favorite podcast streaming platform. We also have a transcript available on BuzzSprout. We have a video presentation and workbook package available on this topic as well, get it HERE.

Here are some other posts on advocacy, CART and assistive listening:

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