StenoKnight CART Services: Realtime Captioning
		for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
This interview took place on October 27th, 2010, on That Keith Wann Show.
Download the audio here.

Keith Wann ASL Radio - Mirabai Knight - Cart Provider Interview from Keith Wann on Vimeo.

That Keith Wann Show - October 27, 2010

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>> Yes, indeed, ladies and gentlemen, it's on! It's on like the one and only Keith Wann!

>> Y'all wave your hands. Look who's on. It's the CODA Man Keith, and he's Number Wann!

>> Now, you might think Wann's youth was sad, because he had a Deaf dear mummy and dad. But that ain't the case. It wasn't his fate. No, the Wanns never struggled to communicate! Wann don't trip, man. Never had a choice. So he transformed hands right into great voice. Deaf Brother Wann make many peeps laugh. Now the kids want to get Wann hot autograph!

>> Y'all wave your hands. Look who's on! It's the CODA Man Keith, and he's Number Wann!

>> Welcome to That Keith Wann Show! Like the song says, Keith's parents were Deaf, but that hasn't slowed him down one bit. He's a comedian, writer, ASL expert, and he is the CODA Man. From YouTube to the movies, Keith Wann is on. And now it's time for That Keith Wann Show on Keith is all about building cultural bridges that enhance understanding and establish trust between communities. Guests will include ASL performing artists, interpreters, teachers, and other ASL community members. Listen with an open mind and willingness to learn, and help with a cultural bridge. It's That Keith Wann Show on And now here's your host, Keith Wann!

>> Number, Number Wann. Keith's Number Wann.

KEITH: Good evening. I'm calling you from beautiful New York City. You know, I would not be who I am if it was not for my support system. For me to be here right now, this is totally crazy. I was supposed to be on an airplane at JFK. They cancelled the flight. They have us sleeping in the airport until tomorrow. This is total, total pandemonium, total chaos, but of course, you know, I love it, I love it. So my support system -- I have Windell. Windell is co-hosting with me tonight. And we're going to be interviewing Mirabai, which I had an absolutely awesome time with today. We sat down. We had lunch. Because there's just so much I want to learn about CART and so much I want to learn about her that our hour-long breakfast this morning was not long enough. And I know the show tonight's not gonna be long enough either. In advance, I do want to apologize if I do go off the air, because I am taking a taxi, taking a subway, taking a train. Whatever I need to do tonight. If I go off the air, I've got Windell taking over. Windell, are you there?

WINDELL: Yes, I am. I think we just barely made it this time.

KEITH: We did, Windell. We're gonna have some stories to tell our grandkids, or the ones that we adopt, or whatever, whatever. So yeah, absolutely. Again, Windell, thank you for being here tonight. I heard you did a great job two weeks ago. Last week we had to -- we replayed a show. We replayed the interview I did with Allen Champion. Because the reason why I'm in New York is I'm actually interpreting Broadway. I'm doing West Side Story with my wife and Allen and Lynnette, a wonderful, wonderful team. Now, Windell, you'll be actually taking over the show, the next two weeks. Can you tell us who your guests will be?

WINDELL: Yeah. Next week we're going to have Andrea Smith from CEUs On the Go. And that's going to be a fun little interview there. The interview that we have the week after that... I can't remember. Do you?

KEITH: We were talking about maybe doing the ADA or something about --

WINDELL: Oh, yeah.

KEITH: I know that's something you specialize in.

WINDELL: Absolutely. Absolutely. Now I know who my guest will be. My guest will be Stephanie Nichols from Sign Language Resource Services, who is actually my boss at the moment. So I hope she's not listening right now.

KEITH: Awesome. Awesome. You know what? Let's get to tonight's guest, and I know she's one of the hardest working people I've met. She's full of energy. She's full of wonderful ideas. And she's the person who captions our show every week. So right now the people in the chat room might be a little confused. If I'm going to be interviewing her, how is she gonna be typing that fast? And I know she has Cory helping her tonight, so she can talk to us. Mirabai, are you there?

MIRABAI: I am here. How are you doing?

KEITH: I'm -- it's total chaos. But, you know, this is New York. I love it. I love it. I love it.

MIRABAI: I love it too. I love living here.

KEITH: It builds character. You know what? Let's get -- I know we have a list of questions. I'm going to ask you some off the top of my head. As you know, I love to get to know my guests. So I wanna know: Who are you? We know StenoKnight. We know that you're the person that captions our show every week, but who are you? Where do you come from?

MIRABAI: Well, I'm from Montana. But I've lived here in New York City for about six years. And mostly I work in colleges and universities for Deaf, deafened, hard of hearing students, taking down college classes, which I love, because it's a free education and I also make a living at it.

KEITH: And I'm laughing right now. I have a big smile on my face. Because I can tell you are very... You are controlling your speaking pattern. Because when we met today, I saw the real you. You're a fast speaker. But I know you said you were going to be aware of your speaking style tonight. Because you want to be user-friendly to the captioner.

MIRABAI: He told me if I talked too fast he'd kick me. He's sitting right here next to me about two feet away.

WINDELL: Will she kick you if we talk too fast?

MIRABAI: I'll have to kick you through the internet, which is pretty tricky.

KEITH: That's doable with technology. I think there's an application for that.

WINDELL: Yeah, when it works.

KEITH: You are -- I love what you do with our show. You provide -- I love providing access. Windell and I are so much into access. Because we grew up with Deaf parents. There was a lot of frustration, a lot of things that we saw that just really upset us. So everything we do, everything we're involved in, we want to provide access. You are helping me to give that much more access to a population I never even thought about. Do you want to explain how you even -- how did you and I meet? How did you get on the show? Why don't you give a little background?

MIRABAI: Okay. Well, I've been a fan of yours for, like, three, four years now. I think I found you randomly on YouTube. And I looked at all of the comedy routines that you had online, and I loved them. And then you came here to New York City about two years ago, and I saw your show live. And it was great. But then -- you know, I'm not exactly sure. I think, like, I found you on Twitter or something. And I just said, "Hey, don't you want captions? I mean, you know, if you want full access. Sure, you've got the ASL for Deaf people, you've got the voice interpreters for Hearing people. But what about hard of hearing people or late deafened people who don't know Sign but who want to enjoy the comedy?" And we tried to sort of work that out, and it didn't really work out technically -- mainly because you travel all over the country all the time, and I basically just stay here. But then when you started up the radio show, we realized we could do it over the internet, and it just came together.

KEITH: Absolutely. And for you people out there, if you ever want to -- if you're a new business, you're a young business, you're starting out, you definitely have to put yourself out there. And that's what I believe in. That's how I met Windell. That's how I met Mirabai. People like that, who do reach out and say, "Hey, this is how I see myself being involved with you. This is what I offer." You definitely can't be sitting on the couch expecting life just to hand something over to you. You definitely have to work for it. So you mentioned Twitter, and I follow your Twitter, and just -- you're all over the place. So what else do you -- you said you work in colleges and universities, and you caption my show. Before we get into more of your work, there's a project that you're involved with too. Could you talk about that?

MIRABAI: Which one?

KEITH: I believe you're going to go on the internet and do free captioning for the whole month of November.

MIRABAI: Yeah. I'm calling it NatVidCapMo. [I meant to say NatCapVidMo, not that it makes much difference.]

KEITH: Is that easy to type for your captionist right now?

MIRABAI: Don't worry. I told him in advance. He's got it. He's got it in there. But there's this National Novel Writing Month, which -- you know, thousands of people all over the world decide to just sit down and write a novel. 50,000 words in 30 days. And I've done it and written two pretty terrible novels, but it was a blast doing it. And I wanted to do it again this year, and realized there just wasn't going to be time. So I was like, "What could I do that sort of got in the November marathon spirit of doing a little bit of something every day?" And I realized there's so many videos out there that aren't captioned. And obviously just doing 30 for a month isn't going to make too much of a dent in the thousands and thousands of uncaptioned videos, but I thought it would be fun, and I would be able to sort of pick some of my favorite videos and put them out there and just -- I don't know. We'll see how it works. I might be up until 3:00 in the morning sometimes, doing it, but I'm going to do my best.

KEITH: Are you... And I want to get your web site out there. Because I always wait 'til the end of the show and realize I never have enough time. So will information be on Will there be more information about this project?

MIRABAI: Yeah, if you go there and then click on the blog, it's all right there.

KEITH: Awesome, awesome. And, you know, because have the captioning all week, and even Windell -- I'm all over the place. I don't really have an orderly way of doing things. I just kind of just ask questions, and whatever pops in my head, I ask away. So I'm gonna start off with something... For me this is interesting, to interview a person like you, because for the longest time -- and it was a silly thought -- I had this feeling that our jobs were adversarial. In a way that... I felt threatened by you and other captioners. Not you personally. Yeah, I felt threatened by you today at lunch, when you gave me that dirty look.

MIRABAI: I am pretty intimidating.

KEITH: You are. (giggling) For interpreters, especially from the West Coast, we're not used to too many captionists. And unfortunately, we hear terms like, "Oh, we don't need interpreters, because we're going to have somebody caption it." And oftentimes people like my mom will say I don't want that. I need an ASL interpreter. So I never understood, I never realized that we can -- we need to work together, because both of us were reaching a larger audience. And when I was telling you that today, I said I love the fact I'm talking with you, I love the fact that we got to know each other, we're becoming friends, because I never thought that I had any interest in what you do. And then you told me you actually felt the same way, but the opposite direction. That there's people -- there's Deaf people that don't know sign language. So somebody says, "Here you go. Here's an interpreter." And they say, "No, I need a captionist. English is my main language."

MIRABAI: No, it's totally true. The real problem that we both have to work to fight is lack of access. I think as long as the person who needs access is given the choice -- either interpreters, captioners, or both, ideally, if they really want to have the exact English and they want sort of -- they want it translated into their language, and they want the expressiveness and everything that an interpreter can do -- that's really the ideal case. So that the people we have to be adversarial about are the people who are trying to deny the ADA rights of Deaf people, basically. But together we can do all sorts of stuff. I mean, I've worked a bunch of great public presentations with interpreters where there are like two big screens with the captioning and then there's --

KEITH: I think we're getting the break music. We'll talk to you when we come back.

MIRABAI: Sounds good. Okay.

KEITH: This is Keith. I'm stuck in the airport.

>> This is That Keith Wann Show! Opening doors, shining the light, building bridges, educating us all. It's the CODA Man, Keith Wann, and we'll back with more, right after these!

>> Number, number Wann! Keith's Number Wann! Everybody clap, 'cause the CODA Man's on. Number, number Wann! Keith's Number Wann! Everybody clap, 'cause the CODA Man's on.

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>> Windell Smith, CEO of Project N.A.D.I.N.E.

>> Project N.A.D.I.N.E. is actually an acronym for the National Advocates on Deafness to Inform, Network, and Enrich. We're a non-profit organization that began in 2008. We've set a goal of providing comprehensive and collaborative resources for parents with Deaf children, and fostering leadership and advocacy within the Deaf community, and educating the general public about the beauty and value of Deaf Culture, and its natural language, which is American Sign Language. For more information, please go to

>> Windell, thanks for being with us.

>> Thank you for having me.

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>> Y'all wave your hands. Look who's on! It's the CODA Man Keith, and he's Number Wann!

>> Welcome back to That Keith Wann Show. He's here to help us with a cultural bridge between the Hearing and the Deaf, with guests from the American Sign Language community and others who are here to share, encourage, and to teach. Now let's get back to the show. It's That Keith Wann Show on Toginet. And here again is your host, Keith Wann.

WINDELL: Hello, everybody. And we're back. This is Windell, or Wink. It's interesting how technology works. I have two computers here, and I tried to log into our system for the Toginet Radio, and both of my computers don't work. So then I whipped out my iPad, that I recently purchased about last Friday. And the investment is pretty much worth it. Because I am now able to have the chats with the producer, to be able to run the show a little bit more efficiently. And so yeah. Technology is a bummer. So that's another question that I would like to get to. But first I think that you were going to finish a thought about your work, with -- how there's a need for it in the community that we as interpreters can't really fulfill but captioners can.

MIRABAI: Well, more the way that the two sort of communities can work together. Because the culturally Deaf people, people who use ASL, have this amazing -- not just a very close-knit community, but this really intense and passionate advocacy. And they were really on the front lines of getting the ADA passed, of making sure that interpreters were available, and they've been able, sort of disproportionately to their relatively small numbers, to make a huge amount of difference in the world, to all sorts of people with whatever disabilities or communication differences there are. And, on the other hand, there are huge number of people with hearing loss who don't necessarily understand access. They don't know what they can do to help themselves if they want access. They have to rely on captions, because they don't speak sign. But they're sort of lost. And they just try to bluff their way through, or they don't know how to ask for what they need. And so I'm really interested in getting those two communities together, so that ASL speakers can show people who maybe just lost their hearing in the middle of their life and have no idea what to do -- they can show them how to negotiate the world, to get the access they need, and to also lobby collectively to make sure that the access is available. You know?

WINDELL: Absolutely. Absolutely. And, you see, that's the thing about the American Disabilities Act, is -- the titles, the three titles that basically cover Deaf and hard of hearing individuals, and I think title four covers captioning, I believe. I can't remember. But the point of the law is to provide auxiliary aid, not just interpreters. And if an individual needs to have closed captioned or -- I'm sorry -- CART, the company will have to provide that access for them. Because they may not know sign language, or there may not be an interpreter in the area. There's auxiliary aids available. So, speaking about that, how often do you work with interpreters?

MIRABAI: Mainly for, like, public events, in terms of when I'm actually working alongside interpreters. Like, I did a great event for the New York Public Library, that I was starting to describe when we went to break. Because there were two big screens that had the CART display, and two big screens that had close-up video on the two interpreters on stage. And it was so fantastic, because it was really universal access. You got Deaf people there, who mostly watch the interpreters, and are able to get all the expressiveness and everything. But maybe sometimes they would look over at the captions. Even sometimes the interpreters look over at the captions, if they need to fingerspell something.

WINDELL: Absolutely.

MIRABAI: Then you also have people who maybe have hearing loss that doesn't affect one-on-one conversations, but when they get in a big room, and they're 20 feet away from the speaker, they can't make it anymore. And then they have the captions. And people who lose their hearing suddenly can see the ASL interpreters and think to themselves, "Wait a second. Sure, the captioning is what I need right now, but I should learn ASL. I should have as many possibilities to communication as I can." And so I really like working with interpreters, because it means that we're able to meld the two worlds, and to combine the two forms of access. And everyone can really enjoy all of the different ways that we do it.

KEITH: So, Mirabai, I guess -- let's back up, and let's explain. What is captioning? What do you do? So when you go to a Broadway play, what are you setting up? Is it a typewriter? What does it look like?

MIRABAI: Well, the Broadway play thing is actually kind of a different process, because obviously it's a play. It's got a script. So it's pre-scripted. So there I go and see the play beforehand, and if there are any changes from the script, I make those. And then when I caption the script, I basically just sort of choose between either what was said when I previewed or what was in the script originally. So that's not really live captioning. But when I'm, say, for instance, working in the colleges that I work at, or doing one of these public events, like at the Library, I use what's called a steno machine, which lets me kind of play words like they were chords on a piano. So I play the first consonants with my left hand, the last consonants with my right hand, and the vowels with my thumbs. It's pretty fun, and it lets me write about 200 words a minute.

WINDELL: Wow. Wow. That's pretty interesting. So... Now, I just have to ask: Do you do CART in Braille? No, I'm joking.

MIRABAI: No. You know what? That's not actually a bad question. Because there's a whole population that people don't talk about, which is the deaf-blind. And I have not personally done CART for a deaf-blind person who uses Braille, but I know it's been done. And I would really like to do it, where you basically output to a refreshable Braille display for someone who doesn't use a tactile interpreter. But I have done CART for people with other forms of vision loss, in addition to their hearing loss. And there's a lot of different things you can play around with, in terms of making the text really big, or making it within a certain narrow part of their visual field. So we've got to think about people with multiple disabilities.

KEITH: Yeah, absolutely. I didn't think even about that. That's a whole another topic, I'm sure. So we have a listener, and they're saying, "I want to be a captionist. What do I need to do?" To be an interpreter, we have ITP programs. We have an intern program, and agencies, and then we get certified. For you, what's the process?

MIRABAI: I wish... There are so many things in CART that I wish worked more the way interpreting works, and I'm trying to make it that way, but it's an uphill battle. Basically, if you want to become a CART provider, you have to go to school to become a court reporter. Which makes no sense, because the jobs are totally different. But they do use the same machine. And there are a couple of schools in the country that offer captioning programs, as opposed to court reporting programs. But mainly, you've got to learn the machine, and then you've got to take it upon yourself to educate yourself about Deaf culture, about disability advocacy, about all of the different things that court reporters don't deal with, but that CART providers work with every day.

KEITH: And sorry, Windell. I'm gonna jump in too. So this is going to be a loaded question, because I was fascinated with the answer. So you talked about live and Broadway. Why, when I watch TV, is the captioning so messed up? Don't they get the script? What's going on there? And I know this is tied into accessibility and the ADA, which Windell was talking about. Can you answer that?

MIRABAI: Yeah. Well, there's a couple of things going on there. There is actually that distinction in TV between live and scripted programs. And generally, the live programs will have worse captioning, because whoever is doing it is doing it off the top of their head. If scripted TV programs have bad captioning, that's basically just sloppiness, because I worked for a company that did scripted TV captioning for pre-recorded shows, and there's no excuse for that. But that leads me into the second part of things, which is that the FCC mandates captioning for all television programs, but they don't have any quality standards. Which means that if a TV station doesn't put any captions, they get a big fine. But if they put really lousy captions on there, there's nothing really that's going to happen to them. So captioning used to be a very challenging, difficult, and well-paid profession about 10, 15 years ago. And as the radio stations [I meant television stations, obviously; slip of the tongue there] realized what they could get away with, the rates have been coming down, the quality has been coming down, and the captioners that are hired these days are generally not as good as they should be, in my opinion. So that's something that we need to fight for, is better standards. Mandating standards in captions.

WINDELL: Kind of riding on those coattails, the thing that's interesting here in Oklahoma is that we get a lot of severe weather. And I'm sure, Keith, you in Florida -- you have a lot of severe weather, as far as thunderstorms and all that jazz. Here in Oklahoma, I think there's only, like, one or two news station that will actually put live captions when they are covering these storms. Most of the times they don't. And time after time, I hear the rebuttal of -- well, we don't really have to provide live captions, because all the information is scrolling at the bottom. Which is bogus. That's not the case. So what can an individual do to be able to, like you said, come up and fight for higher standards and for information that they need?

MIRABAI: That's a really good question.

WINDELL: Well, thank you.

MIRABAI: It's tough. There are a couple of advocacy groups out there. The one that's coming to mind is called COAT. It's their acronym. And they're known as COAT. And they really work for getting things like that, like getting emergency captioning mandated -- full captioning. Not just the blurbs, just the gist of -- "Hey, there's a tornado coming over here." Like, "Coming over where?" You know, tell me the details. Right?

WINDELL: Absolutely. Absolutely.

MIRABAI: It's a really big problem. And it's something that -- you know, the thing that can be really frustrating is that the people who pay for these things are not the people who use them. That's the main problem. And whenever you've got that divide, the people paying for it will try to get away with the lowest possible service, and you just have to keep them honest. People have to write in complaints. They have to keep advocating and making sure their legislators know that they'll vote.

KEITH: It's almost something -- I don't know if you can hear me. It's almost something that we -

WINDELL: Keith, I just want to break in for a moment. We're gonna have to go to a break. But I do want to throw out this number real quick. It's 877-864-4869. And that's the number that you the listeners can call in and ask your own questions, and we'll be able to go to a break here pretty soon, and when we come back, we'll talk more with StenoKnight. Enjoy the commercial.

>> This is That Keith Wann Show! Opening doors, shining the light, building bridges, educating us all. It's the CODA Man, Keith Wann, and we'll be back with more, right after these!

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>> Welcome back to That Keith Wann Show. He's here to help us with a cultural bridge between the Hearing and the Deaf, with guests from the American Sign Language community and others who are here to share, encourage, and to teach. Now let's get back to the show. It's That Keith Wann Show on Toginet. And here again is your host, Keith Wann.

WINDELL: Hello, everybody. This is Wink again. Keith and I are basically taking turns to talk with Mirabai, because she's just so fascinating and interesting to talk to. She just has amazing ideas, and her work -- you're so well-versed in your work. Normally when you talk to other people about their profession, they might kind of just beat around the bush, or maybe not really even give a lot of answers, but you -- you're just, like, right on the ball in just answering these questions. It's just amazing.

MIRABAI: Basically, I'm a giant nerd, is the thing. And so this is the perfect job for me, because I get to go around to all different classes and learn all this useless stuff, and I don't have to take the tests, and it's -- it's so great, man. I could talk about this for, like, weeks. So stop me.

WINDELL: It is fun. I mean, interpreting is kind of in the same genre, as far as -- we get to go, and we get to learn little things about everything. And it's always interesting that we know where to get from Point B to Point C, but we don't know where Point A is, or what that's about. But we know what Point B and Point C is. So talking about that, what is your normal workday like?

MIRABAI: Well, this semester, I'm working at three different colleges, with four different students. So I usually get up at 7:00, and sometimes I come home around 9:30 or 10:00. But, you know, I have... It's a college student schedule, so I sort of overlap the schedules of four different students, and then I'm running around from the Bronx to Brooklyn to Manhattan. It's fun. It's a lot of fun. This semester I've got an architecture student, a student doing Latin, which is awesome, because I love Latin. I took it in high school. And an industrial design student and a fine arts student. So it's really great. I get to learn all sorts of stuff.

WINDELL: Interesting. So as an interpreter, we're always kind of taught... Whenever you get certified, go out and find a staff job. Find something with a little bit of security, that has consistent hours and such. What's, like, a simple job for a captionist or someone who is doing CART?

MIRABAI: Sorry. Can you just ask that one more time? We're having a couple of technical difficulties with the captions.

WINDELL: Oh, sure. Absolutely. So an interpreter, whenever they become one, and they're finally working in the field, normally they want to find something that's a little bit more stable, instead of freelance work, where they're just taking jobs here and there. Pretty much it is a full-time job, but normally most would like to have a full-time staff, consistent-hour work. What about you? What about CART individuals and captioners? And please correct me if I just used the incorrect terminology there.

MIRABAI: It's interchangeable.

WINDELL: Oh, okay. So what's the pinnacle job for them? What could be a job that they normally strive for?

MIRABAI: Well, there aren't really any full-time jobs, is the thing. You kind of have to be an independent contractor. I've heard that sometimes CART providers who work with elementary and middle school students will work a regular 8:00 to 5:00, but that's pretty uncommon. Mostly we're doing college work, we're doing per diem work. You know, conferences or public events. Stuff like that. So you kind of have to make your own way. There are also just so few of us that we don't have the infrastructure that I think sometimes there exists in the ASL world. Like, for instance, if you want to have sort of a steady job, as an interpreter, you can do the VRS work, whereas CART providers -- and this is kind of a big problem -- can't work captioning telephone calls, because there's an inequity there. The captioned telephone system is done with voice writers, who make a lot less money, and are not as rigorously trained. So I have not used the CapTel service myself, but I've heard from a number of people that it's not as accurate as they need, and it's not as quick as they need. So people who use VRS services get full communication access, whereas people who use captioned telephone generally don't. So there isn't an equivalent for a CART provider to just get a staff job, and just caption phone calls all day, unfortunately.

KEITH: And you might have said this earlier. Maybe I missed it, when you were talking about the court interpreters. So as a certified interpreter, we have CEUs. We need to get 8.0 -- 80 hours in a four-year period. And if you're saying there's really no organization for you, who -- is there a Code of Ethics? Who monitors the captionists?

MIRABAI: We're under the auspices of the National Court Reporters Association. So there are CART certifications, and we do have to do CEUs, but it's more sort of free and easy, and not as well organized, unfortunately, as it is for interpreters. I'm hoping that that will change as more people come into CART and captioning, and we get more of a known presence. I mean, right now, people ask me what I do. If I tell them I'm a CART provider, they're like, "What? You sell them to people who sell hot dogs on the corner?" You know? So I have to basically give them my elevator pitch. Like, "Well, I provide captioning for Deaf and hard of hearing college students." But it's not known. It's not a profession that's actually got any kind of visibility. And I'm hoping that will change.

KEITH: Another thing I like about your profession -- I worked with Katherine today, somebody -- as I was interpreting West Side Story, there was captioning there, and I mentioned your name, and they just lit up, and said, "Oh, I love her. I love working with her." You guys have a very supportive community, but I guess also -- everyone that does it really loves it. There's a screening process there. Windell and I, one of these nights, when we had the radio show, we were talking about -- there really is no screening process for interpreters, and if anyone wants to learn Sign Language, they automatically get to become an interpreter, and so there are times where Windell and I might get together and say, "Okay, that person shouldn't be an interpreter. They're doing more damage to the Deaf community." Do you really find that in the CART community? I mean, I guess there's no way, because if the person can't type good, they wouldn't have the job. You guys seem to be a very supportive community.

MIRABAI: Well, on the one hand, that's true. I think the CART providers out there definitely do support each other, and it's such a small world. We all know each other, and we all help each other out. On the other hand, I'm afraid it's not true that there are no unqualified CART people out there, because there's no legal certification for CART. So, you know, you have sometimes... Like, students, steno students, who say, "Well, I'm not good enough to do court reporting, so I'll just go do CART." Which makes me wince, because CART is so much harder than court reporting, because it's live. It's all up there. You don't have any time to edit it. You know? It's really tough. So I hope in the future there will be more rigorous certification, and there won't be as many unqualified people out there, hanging up their shingle and saying they can do CART, when they really can't. It can be sometimes similar to the problem you talked about with interpreters.

WINDELL: So kind of going a little further on that, what do you think is going to happen to the field of -- your field in the future? Where do you see this profession going?

MIRABAI: Well, I feel like it's kind of at a crossroads, because a lot of captioners and CART providers are middle-aged and approaching retirement age, and not that many young people are coming into it. On the other hand, on the other hand, I think that the main reason for that is because the hardware and software is so expensive that people with other options, intelligent people who could do any number of things, they think it's a bad gamble to go into something like CART, because the training is very difficult and it takes a long time, and they have to spend all this money, and if you don't know that you're gonna be good at it, why would you spend $10,000 before you even get going, right? So I'm actually starting -- I've been working for about a year on a solution to that, which is: Free steno software, instead of $4,000 steno software, that works with $45 hardware, instead of $4,000 hardware, and a free online teach-yourself-steno program that I've been doing in installments, on my website, and hoping that more and more people will just pick it up for fun, as a hobby. And start playing with it, and eventually become CART providers or captioners, so we'll see what happens there.

WINDELL: Very nice. And what is that website again?

MIRABAI: Oh, if you go to, you can read all about it.

WINDELL: Interesting. Very nice. Very nice.

KEITH: Is it possible, or would it be even -- would it work... Say... And I know you're learning Sign Language. Actually, you dropped the class to come and join my show and provide services. I felt guilty there. But I'm glad to hear that you're taking up Sign Language again. Do you think, if you learned sign language, and say you became an interpreter, could you technically do my live show? Could you voice and caption it at the same time?

MIRABAI: I don't think I could voice and caption it at the same time, but one thing that I am interested in, if I did eventually get good enough at Sign, would be -- instead of voicing, just making it a silent show. And so watching your ASL, turning it in my head into English and captioning it, and so -- you know, obviously there's advantages with voicing, because you can put in a lot more expression, and you can do the funny voices and everything. But I think there would be something interesting about that, that the Deaf people and the hard of hearing people and people with hearing loss who don't know sign would get equal access, whereas the hearing people would have to sort of go into that world. They wouldn't just be able to rely on their ears for such a visual ASL show as yours.


MIRABAI: I don't know. We can see what happens. What I'm really interested in is sort of building connections between the Deaf worlds and the non-ASL-speaking worlds of people with various degrees of hearing loss.

KEITH: It's funny you say that, because a fellow Deaf performer, ASL comedy performer, he actually has a story -- that he was on stage performing and... Oh, it's Peter Cook. And he actually -- I think he shared this story a couple of weeks ago, when I interviewed him. He was on stage doing his comedy, doing his stuff. On the side, there was captioning. So every once in a while, he would glance over there to see -- okay. What kind of English words is his voice interpreter using? And I think the example he gave was: He was doing a story of a four-year-old, and he signed "fart", and the interpreter voiced "flatulence".

MIRABAI: I remember that.

KEITH: Yeah. And he pretty much stopped and said, "That's not what I said. I said fart." So I guess that would be the fine line that you would have, with no voice interpreter. There you are watching Peter, and now you're gonna put it into English. It would be interesting to see the reaction from a performer saying, "That's not what I meant." Of course, they wouldn't do that, but -- yeah, that whole side.

WINDELL: Yeah. We're going to go to a quick break, and you guys enjoy the commercials, and we'll be back.

>> This is That Keith Wann Show! Opening doors, shining the light, building bridges, educating us all. It's the CODA Man, Keith Wann, and we'll back with more, right after these!

>> Number, number Wann! Keith's Number Wann! Everybody clap, 'cause the CODA Man's on. Number, number Wann! Keith's Number Wann! Everybody clap, 'cause the CODA Man's on.

>> We want to welcome Windell Smith, supporter and volunteer of CODA365. Hello, Windell.

>> Hello.

>> Well, tell us the mission of CODA365.

>> Well, the mission of CODA365 is that we are the children of Deaf adults, and we want to promote pride in that, in our cultural identity, and to encourage other CODAs who are children of Deaf adults to use the native language of their parents. And that's American Sign Language. American Sign Language is a beautiful language. And it should be adopted into the family's communication, regardless if the child can hear or if the child is Deaf. CODA365 is a network. We want to support all CODAs, regardless of age, to promote education, awareness, and respect for American Sign Language and the unique culture that's a major part of our identity. We do that with shows, workshops -- just an endless amount of resources that we're building up right now, to provide the support that's needed. For more information, you can go to

>> is an exciting opportunity for students and working interpreters to earn CEUs while on a fabulous vacation with friends and family. Join us in July, 2012, for an exciting 7-day voyage from Seattle to breathtaking Alaska. Imagine whale watching, dog sledding, and exploring gigantic icy glaciers. Learn skills that will last a lifetime, while enjoying a cruise you'll never forget. Visit for more information. We'll see you in Alaska!

>> Hi, I'm with Emilia Lorenti, with the Sign Language Access, Inc. Emilia, how are you today?

>> I'm doing wonderful. Thank you for asking.

>> Sure. We were talking recently, and I wanted to share with your listeners who the ADA is, or what the ADA is.

>> The Americans with Disabilities Act is an act that was passed 20 years ago, which -- actually, we're celebrating the anniversary this year, and it provides Deaf people with the right to have a Sign Language interpreter, basically anywhere, at any time.

>> All right. So there's a special law passing, from what I understand, or a special anniversary of the law that's passing. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

>> It is. Right now this year is the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and everybody's celebrating right now, because it's 20 years since Deaf people have the right to have interpreters and access to the world.

>> All right, so the law is already passed. I guess I'm being corrected there. I didn't realize that. So that's a pretty exciting thing. Not being a Deaf person, and not understanding or knowing anything about this in the past, that's a pretty big deal right now.

>> Oh, yes. Absolutely.

>> 20 years! That's an amazing thing. All right. Who actually needs an interpreter?

>> I would say everybody does. Anywhere from a hospital to anyone who's going to hire a Deaf person. So basically every business does need a Sign Language interpreter for their Deaf constituents.

>> And how do people find out about it? Surely there's a way on the internet to access that information.

>> Yeah, they can visit our site, which is at, and that'll bring them to our business, and we provide video remote interpreting, and we provide live community interpreters.

>> Fantastic, Emilia. Thanks for joining us today. We really appreciate it.

>> Y'all wave your hands. Look who's on! It's the CODA Man Keith, and he's Number Wann!

>> Welcome back to That Keith Wann Show. He's here to help us with a cultural bridge between the Hearing and the Deaf, with guests from the American Sign Language community and others who are here to share, encourage, and to teach. Now let's get back to the show. It's That Keith Wann Show on Toginet. And here again is your host, Keith Wann.

KEITH: And Windell Smith. Hey, everybody. Before we go off the air, I just want to remind everybody to go to Windell and I will be performing November 13th in Las Vegas. We would love to have you come out and have some support. Maybe we can get Mirabai out there too. Let's see what else I want to promote. No, it's Is that correct?

WINDELL: Absolutely.

KEITH: To learn more about the man they call Wink. Also, you can go to my page, and I've got some new projects coming out. We've got
the new ASL Comedy Tour DVD coming out. We got the nonprofit shirts we just got for the, that Windell and I are both also involved in. So going back to Mirabai, our awesome guest of the hour -- and thank you for that wonderful, wonderful breakfast you suggested. The cardboard and eggs this morning. [Keith tried matzo brei for the first time because I ordered it in the diner that morning.]

MIRABAI: (laughing) Listen, you didn't have to order it, you know. I just said I was eating it. You had to jump on the bandwagon.

KEITH: I ate it with a smile. I ate it with a smile. So... Say we have some listeners here tonight -- do you only do live events? Or could they go to and say, "Hey, we're doing a Democratic Convention in Sacramento, California." Can you provide services in other locations?

MIRABAI: Yeah, absolutely. I do a fair amount of remote captioning, and it's really fun. And I think there's going to be a lot more of that in the future, as more events get wired and they start wanting to offer services to people all over the country. You know, virtual conference and stuff like that. I do telephone conferences. All sorts of stuff. Yeah, the internet is great for captioners and CART providers.

KEITH: I almost don't want to ask this next question, because I don't want you to get mugged. So just wear a disguise for the next couple days. You had a backpack today. You plopped it on the ground, and it thudded. The thing was huge. The thing was heavy. And you just kind of threw a comment like -- oh yeah, I have $10,000 worth of equipment in there. And I know earlier Windell was talking about the iPad and equipment. I don't know if you already answered this. Besides the -- I believe it's the steno, right? That's the equipment? What else do you have in there? Do you have an easel? What do you carry, that you're able just to go to a job and provide services?

MIRABAI: Well, my bag -- my backpack is about 26 pounds. And in there I've got a laptop computer, a little wireless tablet computer, which runs Windows XP, but it's handheld and it's really cool. I have my steno machine. I have my tripod for my steno machine, and my tripod for my laptop, and, like, a bazillion cords and cables, and all sorts of stuff. So yeah, it's a lot to lug around, but it builds strong shoulders.

KEITH: Definitely. Do you ever -- as an interpreter, especially Broadway, after the show -- "You really helped make this show. I loved watching you." Do you also get those kind of -- and the people mean it with good intentions. But we take them as... "Okay. You don't know sign language, but you're giving me a compliment. Thank you." Do you ever get things like that? Like -- I guess I would tell you, "You made Phantom Of the Opera clear to me." I didn't understand the show. There was no sign language interpreter. I kept looking over at the board, and I understood the show better. Do you get things like that after the event, saying thank you so much? Even though they're not the targeted audience? They're not Deaf or hard of hearing. Do they thank you?

MIRABAI: Yeah, actually, the show that I captioned last Saturday, The Pitmen Painters, is all about these miners from Northumbria [I meant Northumberland] in England, in the '30s. And they've got this really thick Northern English accent. So yeah, a bunch of people, both the people in the actual Deaf and hard of hearing section, and just random people from the rest of the place, were like, "Thank you! I never would have understood that dialect without the captions." So that felt good. Yeah. Sometimes people complain. Sometimes people say, "Why don't they have the interpreter? ASL is so much more beautiful than captions. I don't want to look at this big lit-up sign." And I'm like, "Do you even speak ASL?" They're like, "No, but I like watching them." I'm like, "You know what? Captions are useful too."

KEITH: So speaking of accents, though, there's times where Windell and I are kind of like... "I can't understand them." Do you ever have to type: "You know what? Sorry, don't understand 'em, comma, comma, comma."?

WINDELL: Frowny face?

MIRABAI: I do my best to fill in the gaps as best I can, but sometimes it's not easy. Yeah.

KEITH: So I've got to make this neutral. Last year I was at a Broadway play that involved Spanish. One captionist had "(Spanish)". And I might have been there a week later, because I love the show so much. The next captionist had the Spanish word. Is there -- what's the standard practice?

MIRABAI: I would say the standard practice is to be as specific as you can. So if you have any way of accessing the actual Spanish, put it up there. I guess there's a possibility that they were given a script without the Spanish, and they weren't able to find it anywhere else. So then -- last resort, you just write, you know, "(speaking Spanish)". But I would say best practice is definitely to put as much information up there as you can, and let people who can read it, read it. And people who can't, just enjoy the view.

KEITH: So you're going to be doing Windell's show next week. What advice do you want to give to speakers, besides slow down? What makes your job easier?

MIRABAI: Well, I actually... I mean, I like an easy job. But more than that, I like an interesting job. So I kind of like it when they use these big four-dollar words, they're 10 syllables, and I either have to think, "Do I have this in my steno dictionary?" or try and write it out letter by letter. Maybe I'm masochistic that way. I don't know. But I kind of like it when people just go all over the place, and I have to fight to keep up. But slowly. That's the thing. If they go a mile a minute, there's not much I can do. But if they say really interesting, complex stuff with great big juicy words, that's my favorite thing to caption. I love, like, the medical stuff, the technical stuff, the graduate school stuff. That's my favorite thing to caption.

WINDELL: So you're basically going to hate next week's show. Well, Andrea Smith is pretty eloquent. Very profound. I will be there as basically a fifth-grader level vocabulary.

MIRABAI: Whatever. Don't even front, Windell.

KEITH: Mirabai, you're talking to Wink and I. We're CODAs. English is, like, our fourth language. First we signed Sign Language... And a couple of others. I'm excited when I can use a word of five letters long.

WINDELL: Absolutely.

KEITH: That's seven right there. I should learn how to count. Oh, dear lord.

MIRABAI: I like all sorts of stuff. I like the variety. That's really my favorite thing about the job, is being able to just go to a college class and then go to a show and then go to a lecture, and have everything all mixed up together. It's the best. I love my job.

KEITH: Sounds like you have a little more freedom. Because, in the world of Sign Language, you will encounter interpreters who say, "I don't cuss. I don't sign bad words." And they'll actually filter the message.

MIRABAI: Seriously?

KEITH: Seriously. Seriously. I think you need to come to our conferences. I think you need to understand what we do. (feedback squealing) What's that? I heard a sound. Are we okay?

WINDELL: I guess the FCC was censoring you, Keith.

MIRABAI: Yeah. You got bleeped.

KEITH: Frik and frak. Frak. That's from Battlestar Galactica. So I don't know how much time we have, so I want to make sure I get this question. Yeah, so do you guys censor? I guess you guys have the freedom to... "I'll say this and that, and mother-father Deaf, and whatever I want to say."

MIRABAI: Man, no. Especially in college classrooms, there's all sorts of salty language in there. So yeah. I have all the dirty words in my dictionary. Now, the funny thing is: For TV captioners, they have to put in all sorts of fake words, so in case they accidentally type a bad word, it comes out as "truck", or it comes out as "sock". CART providers don't have to worry about that, because the FCC, they aren't going to fine us. So if a professor swears during class, I just put it right down. In fact, I was at... Okay. I was captioning a show at MoMA, and the artist was this Scottish performance artist, and the last exhibition of his lecture was basically a song that he wrote, that consisted of the F word 40 times. And so I wrote it 40 times. It was the easiest thing in the world, because on the steno machine, basically, you just -- you type one chord, and it all comes out. It's not even four letters. It's one stroke. So I'm not sure if it was art, but I got it down.

KEITH: I don't think you can say "stroke" on the radio. Windell, can we check on that?

WINDELL: Yeah, I was going to try and say something like, "The F word and stroke probably shouldn't be used in the same context," but you know...

MIRABAI: Sorry about that. I wasn't thinking.

KEITH: We can say whatever we want.

WINDELL: Exactly. Nobody is listening.

KEITH: Hey, hey, hey there. Calm down, kid. I don't know how much time we have left.

WINDELL: We have about a minute left.

KEITH: Mirabai, promote yourself. Promote yourself.

MIRABAI: If you need CART or remote CART or captioning, New York City, anywhere -- just give me a call or text me or email me. You name it. And if I can't cover the work, I'll pass you on to a captioner who can.

KEITH: Awesome. Windell, do you want to wrap it down?

WINDELL: Absolutely. There's something else I kind of want to say that's a little bit off the point, but there's a special little announcement that I would like to make about the ASL Community Cruise that CODA365 is sponsoring and hosting. We're going to be offering CEUs for interpreters. Maybe we can talk to talk to you, our guest, about getting CEUs for CART providers. No, but... We're going to be providing CEUs for our interpreters that are going to be going on to this cruise, and we would love to have everyone come. It's And we have about 15 seconds left, and I think that you should probably close out the show, maybe.

KEITH: Frik, frak. Frak, frik. Frik, frak. Thank you, everybody, for listening tonight. Again, we have Windell as our host next week. I want to thank Mirabai Knight from You rock. You keep your fingers flying. You provide access for my parents. Thank you.

MIRABAI: Thank you.

WINDELL: Thank you.

>> Y'all wave your hands. Look who's on! It's the CODA Man Keith, and he's Number Wann!

>> Now, you might think Wann's youth was sad, because he had a Deaf dear mummy and dad. But that ain't the case. It wasn't his fate. No, the Wanns never struggled to communicate! Wann don't trip, man. Never had a choice. So he transformed hands right into great voice. Deaf Brother Wann make many peeps laugh. Now the kids want to get Wann hot autograph!

>> Y'all wave your hands. Look who's on! It's the CODA Man Keith, and he's Number Wann!

>> Thank you for being a part of That Keith Wann Show on Join us every Wednesday evening at 8/7 Central for more from that CODA Man, Keith Wann. Keith is all about building Cultural Bridges that enhance understanding and establish trust between communities. Keith will have guests on each week, sharing their experiences, expertise, opinions, and personal lives with all of us to help us understand others. The topics and guests will come from the American Sign Language community or outsider guests who can share information bringing more awareness that will benefit us all. Guests will include ASL performing artists, interpreters, teachers, and other ASL community members. For more information on Keith and the show, go to his website, Then join us here again next week and listen with an open mind and willingness to learn, and help with that cultural bridge. It's That Keith Wann Show. Wednesday nights at 8/7 central on