Overview of CART Services


What is CART?

CART stands for Communication Access Realtime Translation. It is also referred to as human-powered live captioning to further distinguish it from automatic speech recognition (ASR), which is commonly used on some media and social channels as well as in videoconferencing apps, smartphones, tablets, and computers as an accessibility aid.

Why use CART?

CART is a service provided by an onsite or remote human provider, not a software feature such as ASR is. CART provides much more control over the provision of the service, as well as more accurate and consistent captioning, and greater flexibility in the range of scenarios in which it can be used. ASR tends to work best in very close distances or when everyone is using their own microphone; CART is equally at home in these situations as it is in those when people are onsite at a location but at some distance from any microphone - or there is no microphone present. In both scenarios, ASR does not work well, if at all.

If ASR stops working or is working inconsistently, there is nothing a user can do. With CART, it is usually possible to troubleshoot and fix any connectivity, transcription and display issues, and CART providers often have redundant connectivity options available.

Who uses CART services?

CART is generally the best and most complete option for persons whose speech discrimination - even with hearing aids or cochlear implants – is such that they cannot consistently understand everything that is being said and require additional assistance in the form of captioning. Because CART is one-way transliteration, it is not generally used by Deaf individuals who express themselves exclusively in ASL, as a CART provider would be unable to voice a Deaf individual’s responses to what is being said as an ASL interpreter would.

CART users must be comfortable voicing for themselves if CART is the only communication option requested. Some Deaf individuals prefer to use CART for highly technical content but may also request an ASL interpreter so they can respond to what is being said.

Is a CART Provider a kind of "interpreter?"

An "interpreter" translates one language into another, for example, English into American Sign Language. CART providers convert spoken English into visual English, there is no translation component. Unfortunately, at this point, CART is predominantly available in English, although we are working hard to create a more diverse and inclusive pool of available CART providers.

When can I use CART Service?

CART Service can be used in any situation. CART is often used in group meetings - legislative hearings, town meetings, workshops, support groups, classroom settings, on-the-job training, advisory council or board meetings, court proceedings, and so on. CART should also be used in situations where verbatim communication access is crucial, such as job interviews, supervisor-employee meetings, doctor appointments, meetings with lawyers and other service persons where the gaps in accuracy present with ASR can create potentially misleading or dangerous misunderstandings and lack of access.

CART can be displayed on any smartphone, tablet, laptop, wall-mount monitor or projector. Generally, the bigger the audience, the bigger the screen size or projection surface should be.

What is remote CART?

Remote CART is CART provided from a distance. The CART provider can be literally anywhere in the world; as long as they can hear everything that is being said in the event they are providing services for, all they need is an internet connection. The CART provider writes their output into a streaming service to which the customer has been sent the link to. All the customer must do is click on this link and they will seeIf the CART text. Depending on the streaming service the CART provider uses, the customer may be able to change font size, font type and color as well as background color, text speed and line spacing.

Remote CART can also be used onsite if the customer for some reason does not wish the CART provider to be sitting next to them. If streaming has been requested in advance, and internet is available and accessible to both the provider and customer, there is no reason why this cannot be done.

Besides having to be able to hear everyone who is speaking, the remote CART provider must also be able to attribute speech to the correct speaker. Since in a remote setting a CART provider may not always see who is speaking, the speakers should preface any comments with their names.

Remote CART is ideal for videoconference meetings such as Skype, Zoom, WebEx, Teams, and others; the captions can usually be written directly into the service or opened in a separate streaming link in a discrete window or screen.

Please note that if using a remote CART provider, you should look for someone who is familiar with local place names and pronunciations. If you are using terminology that is highly specific to your meeting, and not commonly found in everyday conversation, you should also send prepartation materials to the provider in advance of the event so they can add these to their custom dictionaries.

Who pays for CART services?

According to several state and federal laws, state and federal agencies, the courts, consultants, doctors, lawyers, therapists, hospitals, museums, libraries, police departments, fire departments, colleges, universities, events of a town, employers, and many other entities are required to provide effective communication for deaf, late deafened and hard of hearing people. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lists CART Service as one type of auxiliary aid which may be needed to enable effective communication to take place.

How much does it cost to hire a CART Provider?

As do other professionals who contract for their services, CART providers charge fees based on qualifications, experience, and type of job assignment. CART providers engaged through our CART referral services will charge the state rate, this is approximately $ 280 for the first two hours.

Private sector CART providers not contracted through MCDHH may charge significantly more.

Travel and Parking Reimbursement

If a CART provider is required to travel to and from an assignment, and such travel in either direction exceeds 25 miles, travel costs shall be reimbursed at the current mileage rate. This rate for mileage reimbursement covers the cost of tolls. CART providers may submit an original parking receipt to MCDHH for reimbursement.

Travel time will be reimbursed at the # miles divided by 50 times 1/2 the hourly rate.

Exact fees per job, cancellation policy, travel, and mileage are negotiated by the paying consumer and the freelance CART Provider.

Other important considerations:


CART is for communication access; it is not intended to be used for notetaking or record-keeping. While transcripts may be requested for an extra charge, this must be announced prior to the event in question and in a manner accessible to participants so they can determine whether and to what extent they want to participate knowing what they say is being recorded.

It is never acceptable to request a transcript after the meeting has begun, or after the meeting has ended.

For those situations where a participant with hearing loss wishes to receive the transcript, this needs to be announced prior to the meeting, and the transcript should only be used as the basis for notetaking and destroyed/discarded securely immediately afterwards.


CART providers, like any other freelance professionals, depend on being paid in a timely manner. Delayed payments may lead to CART providers not being willing to work for a particular entity in the future; there have also been cases when CART providers have walked out in the middle of an ongoing series of engagements if they have not been paid for the first several instances.

Conversely, CART providers are eager to work with entities who are conscientious with their payments – this is also true of ASL interpreters and all freelance contractors.

Where do I request a CART Provider or ask for more information?

The MCDHH Communication Access Division handles requests for CART providers. When you call MCDHH, ask for the CART referral specialist in the Department for Interpreter Services. You can also request CART online by clicking here.

You may access a list for our CART Captioners by clicking here.

Can I give feedback about the CART Provider?

Yes. You can share feedback, both compliments and complaints, with the Director of the Communication Access Division. This information will be shared but your name will not be used without your permission.

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