Michele: Requesting CART is something that the Hard of Hearing (HoH) do NOT do routinely. Partly due to a large percentage of HoH having no idea that CART exists as a reasonable accommodation, as outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Most of us learned about CART by chance research, through our hearing loss peers, or from attending a live event where it was provided. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we got this valuable communication access information at the time we are diagnosed with hearing loss?
My first visit to my state’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services agency in 2006 didn’t include any information about CART. Some state agencies fail to focus on CART to the same degree as ASL Interpretation for communication access. That helps perpetuate the myth that all people with hearing loss know sign language. In reality, over 95% of people with disabling hearing loss need captioning in their spoken language, and that is CART for live events.
When you request CART, make it known that sign language will not meet your needs; it saves time. I learned this after specifically requesting CART several times and being offered ASL Interpretation instead. That’s not all bad, as an offer of ASL is an indication they are aware of ADA compliance. Offering what they are used to providing seems to be the norm, so it becomes necessary to educate about CART.
You can find a CART Request Template on our website in the Glossary. Personalize it with your info and if you need help getting started, reach out to Hearing Loss LIVE!
In a perfect world a HoH or deaf person should be able to make a CART request and just show up. Only one time has that happened in my experience. It was for a college lecture where the university had its own Interpreting & Captioning Unit (ICU).
It is going to take more HoH and deaf people requesting CART before we can expect it to be as routinely recognized as ASL Interpretation. I am open to suggestions as to how we can get more HoH and deaf people to request CART.
A few things to remember when requesting CART.
- CART for the HoH is exactly the same as ASL interpretation for the Deaf.
- Plan ahead, making your CART request with at least 3 weeks lead time; however, the sooner you make your request, the better. If you don’t have that much time, put in the request anyway, as sometimes late requests can be accommodated.
- The more you request CART, the better you get at advocating for it.
- Be prepared to educate about CART, and to provide resource links for finding a provider.
- 95% of people with hearing loss communicate in spoken language and need CART.
- CART is comparable in cost to sign language interpretation.
- You don’t have to accept “No” for an answer, nor do you have to accept a lesser accommodation. ASR (automatic speech recognition) is often not sufficiently accurate to provide communication access for the HoH and deaf. DO insist on CART when and where appropriate.
Chelle: I made my first CART request several years ago for a workshop I wanted to attend. I had attended a workshop there previously and found it extremely challenging to hear in their environment. This place had cement floors, cement walls that stopped 2 feet from the ceiling allowing bleed over noise from other rooms. An open ventilation system that roared on often. (This is when I learned acoustics wreck hearing devices.)
My hearing aids weren’t working and my FM system didn’t help. I requested an outline to follow along and that didn’t help when the presenter turned his back to write on the whiteboard, which was much of the time. I tried everything and nothing worked. I could only snag words here and there. I paid for the workshop and was so disappointed.
They had an upcoming workshop I wanted to take so I requested CART. They didn’t understand it—businesses rarely do at first—so they denied me. I knew they were wrong since they were affiliated with the community college, which has a disability center that provides CART for its students. I did not accept the “no”. I persisted and made the request again, this time outlining the section in the ADA where they had to honor my request. I stated I tried everything else and nothing worked. I suggested they get in contact with the school disability center, giving them a contact.
I knew I deserved equal access to communication. If I had been Deaf and requested an ASL interpreter, there probably wouldn’t have been any questions asked. I didn’t know ASL so CART was my access to the workshop. A few days later the request was granted.
Julia wound up doing the CART which was great for me. It’s reassuring to have a CART provider you know. This was the first time I got FULL participation at their events. I understood everything said by the presenter. For the first time in a long time, I also understood the participation from the others in the group. CART gave me inclusion.
Julia: I am a steno writer and own a business for CART Services. One of the services I have provided for many years is consulting for businesses that have had an employee request CART, but the business doesn’t understand what CART is. I bring my steno machine and computer equipment and demo for them. I then discuss pros and cons for CART, especially in meeting/conference/training settings. I also bring or supply a list of CART providers that I have worked with over the years. If you chose me for your conference, great. But if you chose someone else I am still just as ecstatic. Because guess what? That business gets it!
If you requested CART and your employer tells no because you lipread well enough, they are wrong. If they suggest you learn ASL as a second language, they may be violating your rights under the ADA Title I. It is within your rights to request live CART for meetings, especially those required trainings in which you have to understand the information or risk termination. If they offer you an alternative accommodation because they don’t understand, explain why it won’t work or benefit you. Use the above information to educate them.
Communication is a two way street. If this is information you MUST know and understand, then you need the correct accommodation. Equal access is a due process as you do not want to be fired for misunderstanding. That would not be fair to you and they would lose a good employee through a misunderstanding.
Employers, isn’t keeping an employee long term your goal? If you are telling employees CART costs too much, please reach out to me and see if I can help you understand it better. Before you tell an employee there wasn’t enough time to arrange CART, reach out to me as I can help with last minute requests.
When you dismiss an employee’s need for a specific accommodation that allows inclusion, that employee begins to rethink their place within the business and wonder what their employment is worth to the business. Odds are they will move on when presented with an opportunity elsewhere. Weigh the financial benefits that come from investing in your employees.
I invite you to open up a dialog with me anytime. Let’s see if we can find a solution together before telling an employee they must settle for a lesser accommodation.