Court reporting services for the hearing impaired

Providing real-time access to live television broadcasts for deaf and hearing-impaired viewers can offer added avenues of entertainment for these individuals. Professional court reporting specialists who specialize in this field can transcribe spoken words quickly and accurately to ensure that hearing-impaired people have access to information regarding the programs they are viewing. Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) professionals are in demand throughout the television industry and provide a valuable service for community organizations, conferences, academic settings, and many other venues.

Demanding requirements for CART professionals

Court reporters must meet high standards for accuracy and speed to maintain positions in the legal arena. For CART captioners, however, the requirements are even more stringent. CART technicians must generally perform their duties in real time. This means that they cannot edit their work as they go. Instead, an extreme degree of accuracy is required on the part of CART specialists to ensure that their captions are correct and understood. Speed is also critical to ensure that the images on the screen correspond with the information provided in the real-time captions.

Vocabulary and spelling

While some modern captioning machines provide auto-correct options for spelling, CART specialists must have strong vocabulary and spelling skills to ensure the most accurate captions for their viewers. This includes general knowledge of the terminology used in the particular field:

  • CART technicians who specialize in sports programming must have an understanding of the events they cover and a broad grasp of the various positions, plays, and rules governing the sports in question.
  • Medical, dental, and scientific conferences may require an in-depth knowledge of terms and terminology relevant in these fields.

CART specialists must also possess a reliable sense of context to ensure that they select the right words and spellings in each situation.

Legal requirements for CART services

Agencies and academic institutions that receive federal funding must comply with a variety of laws and regulations designed to provide equal access to those with disabilities. Some of the most important pieces of legislation guaranteeing equal access to information and services for hearing-impaired individuals include the following:

  • The 1997 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was enacted in an effort to promote the mainstreaming of children with disabilities and to end the practice of separating these students from others in the academic environment.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is one of the most far-reaching legislative initiatives and requires that accommodation plans be put in place to ensure equal access to public services and areas for those with disabilities. Schools, public transportation systems, and medical facilities are all required to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.
  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 includes a section specifically outlining the requirements for federally funded schools and agencies to provide assistance to those with disabilities. The act was amended in 1998 to include language guaranteeing equal access to the electronic and digital information technology made available to the public by federal agencies.

CART services may be required for full compliance with these federal regulations.

Court reporters who specialize in CART services can enjoy a wide range of employment opportunities. By taking on the challenges of this fast-paced field, captioning experts can improve the quality of life for hearing-impaired individuals while putting their skills to the test in this challenging segment of the court reporting industry.

 

Budgeting error could shut down Illinois courts

Court reporters play a critical role in the American legal system. However, an oversight on the part of the State of Illinois may leave many court reporters out of work and many courts unable to hear cases until added funds are found to pay these legal professionals. A change in the way group insurance premiums and pensions are funded has left local courts without the funds necessary to hire the needed court reporters for upcoming cases and hearings. This could seriously hamper the ability of Illinois courts to dispense justice and hear cases in upcoming months. While no solution has yet been identified, state and county authorities are exploring options to deal with this major budget shortfall.

Flawed spending plan for Illinois

In an effort to cut costs across the board, Illinois lawmakers shifted the burden of paying for pensions and group insurance for court reporters to the local courts. By transferring the other costs of court reporting services from the General Revenue Fund to the Personal Property Replacement Tax Fund, Illinois hoped to reduce the overall costs of court operations at the state level. Unfortunately, local courts simply do not have the available funds to make up the shortfall, which is expected to amount to $14.3 million statewide by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Mandated court reporting

Under Illinois law, felony cases and those involving juveniles are required to have live court reporters on duty. Other types of cases could potentially be covered by less effective electronic recording devices; however, even these options would still require transcription and review by qualified court reporters to ensure accuracy and to satisfy legal requirements for note taking and monitoring. Failing to meet these requirements for live court reporting could close down some Illinois courts as soon as the end of the month of March.

Limited options

While lawmakers scramble to find new funding sources for the state court system, Illinois counties are looking at a number of options to try to maintain operations through the end of the fiscal year. Some ideas that have been floated include closing down some felony courtrooms altogether, reducing salaries, and delaying cases until after funding becomes available again. At the state level, lawmakers are considering implementing a supplemental appropriations measure or authorizing the governor to reallocate funding from other areas to cover the expenses associated with court reporting services throughout the state. In the worst case scenario, however, courtrooms may be closed down temporarily. This could create a significant backlog of cases for Illinois courts after June 30 of this year.

The threatened shutdown of court services in Illinois highlights the importance of the court reporter in the modern legal system. Court reporters provide accurate records of the proceedings in criminal and civil trials and assist in depositions of witnesses to acquire evidence and testimony. These legal professionals are vital to the smooth operation of courtroom proceedings and deliver reliable, responsive services to ensure fair treatment for all parties. The dilemma faced by Illinois courts should serve as a wake-up call for other states regarding the value of court reporting in the legal arena.