How does CART work, and what does it look like? There are three basic elements to every CART setup: The CART provider, the steno machine, and the
output device. The first two variables tend to stay the same, but the third can change depending on the preferences of the CART user.
7-inch Samsung Q1 tablet PC and 12-inch Lenovo SL400 laptop, with Revolution
Grand steno machine.
Here's my most common configuration: My steno machine (and/or optional tablet PC) on its tripod next to my laptop, which can rest either
on its own tripod or on a table. Both the CART provider and the CART user read from the same screen, so they usually sit relatively
close to each other. The steno machine connects to the laptop wirelessly via Bluetooth, and there are many different font options to choose from.
Here's a video of CART in action. I recorded this in one take, without editing. This is essentially what a CART client will see in the
classroom when viewing on the laptop. The tablet display is similar, but the viewing area is smaller, so the client can choose either a smaller
font size or to have fewer lines on the screen at a time.
For the story behind why I'm smirking in this picture, visit my blog.
The second display option is my tablet computer, a Samsung Q1. It's smaller and can be useful in situations where a big laptop is too bulky or
conspicuous. The CART user can stand it up on a table or carry it around the room. Again, the steno machine connects wirelessly, so as long as
the CART provider can hear the speaker, the CART user can read the output anywhere they like, within a range of about 40 feet. For people who
don't always want to sit next to the CART provider, this can be a good option.
The walkaround rig is available on request, but needs to be arranged ahead of time. Photo on left by Brian Kim of 501 Tech Club NYC.
The wireless tablet can also be mounted on my steno machine, and I can travel from place to place using a Connect-A-Desk. This is a great option
for ambulatory events, such as networking mixers, open houses, or museum tours. I stand next to whoever the CART user is speaking to, and they
can read off the display by just glancing over discreetly.
Alternatively, they can hold the wireless display in their hand and I can stand a short distance away, allowing for a conversation
that feels freer and more unmediated. For the ultimate in portable CART, I can run the display
through StreamText, a third-party internet server,
and the user can connect to the live streaming site using the web browser on their smartphone. The font size is smaller than on the tablet,
but it's the most unobtrusive and lightweight option.
A screenshot from the StreamText display of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Click through for an animated demo.
StreamText is also the service I use to provide remote CART via the internet to people all over the country. Because it's streamed over the internet, remote CART has a bit more of a lag than onsite CART, and audio quality is of
paramount importance in ensuring accuracy. Finding the right microphone and putting it where it can pick up multiple speakers can be surprisingly
tricky, so all new remote CART jobs need at least one dry run before the class or event takes place.
The last option is projected CART, with or without simultaneous streaming to the internet. When an event needs to be made inclusive, projecting
the CART display for the benefit of the entire room can be the best way to provide universal access for Deaf, late deafened, and hard of hearing
people, as well as people who might have some degree of hearing loss but who don't self-identify as hard of hearing or deaf. CART is also useful
for English language learners and people with
dyslexia, auditory processing
disorder, or ADHD. When the CART display
is available to every audience member, no one has to feel singled out or as if they're demanding special privileges. Everyone benefits.
Another shot of the NYPL event. This photo also by Peter Foley.