Quality Real Time Captioning in the Court

March 21, 2014 § 1 Comment

A new article or blog of interest to many – following up our meeting the Silent Grapevine project:

Chuck Ray is one of the only trial judges in the world that is Deaf. He was an attorney in Anchorage, Alaska when he lost his hearing in 2007. His hearing loss had been gradual but he didn’t quite consider the changes he might have to make when he lost his hearing completely.  A newly deaf person at 50 years old often faces obstacles that they don’t expect but Judge Ray took them into stride and decided against retirement. Instead, he decided that he would try to continue to practice law. This decision was not without some concerns.

How would he be able to interact with others in the court room? Would clients and/or other attorneys have issues with him and would there be any possible accommodations for him to help make it possible to continue. Fortunately for him, he learned how to lipread and while learning that skill, Judge Ray discovered something called Real Time Captioning.

Usually Real Time Captioning is used for sworn oath but for Judge Ray he gets a word for word play by of everything that is going on in his court room. When a new seat had opened on the Bethel bench in 2012, he decided to submit his application. Out of four submitted applications that had been forwarded to the Governor, Sean Parnell, his was highlighted by the Judical Council as one of the best submissions.

His deafness didn’t stop him from getting this job and the Governor has said that spending money on his accommodations is worth it for the right person. The initial set up for Real Time Captioning was $456,800 and 365,000 for each year afterwards. This hefty price tag covers $90-140 an hour for real time captionists in the court room, their transportation, lodging, and food. Often these captionists are coming from either California or Nevada and come out on two week rotations.

In order for a person to become a highly qualified captionist, they must obtain a certification. To obtain that certification, they must be able to type 200 wpm with 96% accuracy. This enables the Judge to get information in real time rather than waiting. Many lawyers and individuals that have seen the inside of Judge Ray’s Court room have been amazed at how they forget he’s deaf and his ability to keep up with what’s going on without any trouble. The biggest reason other than the Real Time Captioning is also because Judge Ray is still able to communicate verbally with his attorneys in the courtroom. 

Sources are: KTUU ,Current Alaska Judges  Photo from Court Records of Alaska

CCAC here: Many reading may know that “Courts/Justice” is one of the ten CCAC “Categories of Life” – you will see it listed on the CCAC membership form when you join us. Please do join the CCAC now if you have not yet done so! Every member has access to the CCAC members’ forum and a lot of good “first” information too.

Go to HTTP://CCACAPTIONING.ORG -the website for the organization (you are reading the CCAC blog here, not the website) – and find the tab to become a member. We’ll welcome you!

(Readers – we are checking with the author now about the set up costs. It would be helpful to many to know more, in a general way, of the items adding up to that figure (mics, monitors, and other items). We know that some other qualified and experienced professionals (e.g. physician specialists) also travel to Alaska to provide services, and expertise is costly. We’ll update the information here as it is received. Update: the figures are in the news story here – http://www.ktuu.com/news/news/deaf-justice-in-rural-alaska/25045558. Now we understand better too – it’s essentially the annual cost plus equipment (we are guessing) for the first year. As the State says, expertise is worth it!)

The article above has been republished from The Silent Grapevine (TSG) with permission. Mary Pat Withem is the lead reporter and you can contact her at mpwithem@gmail.com for further information or clarification on any of the information, sources, or for links to her work.

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§ One Response to Quality Real Time Captioning in the Court

  • brockettk says:

    Thanks for the article. I have posted a web link to it on Oregon Communication Access Project (OR-CAP) FaceBook page.

    Regards, Karen B Tail wags from hearing dog Cherelle

    Sent from KB’s iPad

    >

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