CART Providers in the Courtroom Setting

One out of every nine Texans is deaf or hard of hearing, and the majority of persons with hearing loss do not know sign language.  Many people with hearing loss find Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) to be the most effective method of communication in a variety of settings, including the courtroom.  The Americans with Disabilities Act lists assistive technology, which includes CART, in its definition of auxiliary aids for persons with hearing loss. 

Who is qualified to be a CART provider?

Communication Services for State Agencies defines a CART provider as an individual who holds a current CART Certification Level 1 through Level V certificate of competency issued by the Texas Court Reporters Association or a current Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR), Certified CART Provider (CCP), or Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC) certificate of competency issued by the National Court Reporter Association.

What is the role of the CART provider?

Much like a sign or foreign language interpreter, the CART provider is present to provide communication access for persons with hearing loss.  In addition to displaying the spoken word, the CART provider will also include environmental sounds and nuances of speech, i.e., [LAUGHTER], [BELL RINGING], enabling the consumer to experience everything that is happening just as a hearing individual would.  If a question is asked of the CART consumer, the CART consumer can read the question on the screen and then reply in their own voice, allowing for full participation.

Why can’t the official court reporter act as the CART provider?

It is a common misperception that the official court reporter and the CART provider are performing the same duties.  This is not the case.  The official reporter is there to make the official verbatim record, mark exhibits, write bench and in-chamber conferences, provide readback and transcript references and produce an official transcript of the proceedings for cases on appeal.

The CART provider in the courtroom setting is present to provide communication access for the person with hearing loss.  For instance, if the consumer is a party and representing themselves in the courtroom, the CART provider will only write what the Judge and other parties say and will not write what the consumer says as he speaks for himself.  Therefore, it is not a complete record of the proceedings.  No transcript is provided to anyone and must be ordered from the official reporter pursuant to Chapter 52.047 of the Government Code.  If the consumer is a party to the proceeding and has an attorney, or if the consumer is a juror, the CART provider acts just as a sign or foreign language interpreter and provides communication access during attorney-client communications or jury deliberations.  The official reporter is not allowed to participate in such communications or deliberations. 

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