Yes We Can! A Day in the Life of…A Live Captioning Provider

November 9, 2014 Comments Off on Yes We Can! A Day in the Life of…A Live Captioning Provider

Here’s another great report from the field – real, live, and lively. Thanks to the author for her work, on behalf of millions of us, not only the doctoral student she was invaluable for on this fine day. Enjoy reading (CART in Education). Reprinted with permission of the author (from Total Recall Captioning page on Facebook): 
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I was given the opportunity to provide services for a doctoral candidate yesterday. Yet another new, but wonderful experience! Fortunately it was at a school site I had been to before. Unfortunately, it was a part of the University I had never been to. I looked over the campus map, saw the building, and thought that’s not too bad. We were asked to arrive a half hour to set up, as we needed to provide a laptop for the panel so they could ensure their questions were correctly translating to the candidate. Not a problem.
My goal: Arrive an hour early to ensure I’m there in more than enough time to find parking and the building. Reality: Remote job runs ten minutes over, and I’ve got to get gas in my car. I’m still going to be there 45 minutes early. I arrive on campus, and the information kiosk is four deep with cars. I need to check to see if they have a pass waiting for me. No luck. So ten minutes of wasted time, but at least he told me the best place to park and pay for an all-day pass.
Now 35 minutes to start time, I park in one of those pay-by-space spots that the attendant told me about. I go to the permit stand, and I can’t read the screen. I’m just pushing in various numbers, and finally I can see the options. 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and one hour. What? Well, it’s got to work, and I’ll just have to trek down and pay again later. But I’ve used nearly ten minutes trying to buy this pass that will only last a mere hour.
Meanwhile, I get a text from my teammate, saying she’s just arrived and has to find parking. I’ve got the extra laptop, so I’ve got to book it to get everything set up. In case you didn’t know, campus maps can be very deceiving as far as distance goes, especially while carrying extra equipment. I ask someone for the quickest way to get to the building. “Oh, through that path, down that other path, cross the road, and it’s somewhere up there,” she replies in a very sweet voice. I look back down at the map. I head in the direction she pointed.
Ten minutes later I’m in front of the building, with three different wings, of course. I take a gamble and head into one. Not the right numbers. At this point I feel kind of like Goldilocks trying to find the perfect building. Third wing it is. I take the elevator up to the third floor, and as I get off the elevator a woman comes up to me, “Are you the Captionist?” Yay, I’ve found the right place.
Five minutes to spare, I feverishly start setting everything up and texting my teammate. She’s looking for the room, but I’m no help, as I barely found it myself. I have to set up all the computers with the temporary wi-fi passwords. The proctor helps me with my extra laptop as I’m setting up my machine and laptop. No need to stress, you’ve just got six of the smartest people on earth sitting in a room waiting on you to set up.
In walks my teammate. She gets the Streamtext event started for me while I get my software going. Thank goodness for great coworkers!
Now for the actual job. We were provided with a word list for this. Seven words. None of which I had even seen before. Oh, boy! There are five people on the panel, all of which are PhD professors at various colleges, and the leaders in their field. And our client with his two master’s degrees in evolutionary biology is presenting his doctorate work to the panel, and he has three hours to answer all of their questions, which my teammate and I are to take down while they scrutinize our screens to ensure we’re getting the correct information to the candidate.
Amazingly, the actual taking down of the questions was the “easy” part. Every word translated correctly, except lo si, which I now know is loci. I stayed in the room while the panel deliberated and the candidate went outside. When they brought him back in and announced he was approved, and congratulations went around the room, I was in awe. He was so grateful, and I felt that I should have been the one thanking him, because it was such an amazing process to watch.
As I was packing up, the panelists came over and thanked me for my time. They were commenting how impressed they were with our skill. Imagine that! I didn’t even know half of what was coming out of their mouths, but by some miracle, I was able to make it look like I was an expert.
I’m by no means an expert, and I am by no means perfect. I think the panel gave credence to the fact that they knew every word had to be understood perfectly by the candidate, and probably spoke slower for our benefit. Either way, I am so proud to be doing the work I am doing. I intentionally take the “tougher” jobs because I like to push myself, but also because I kind of don’t like doing 101 classes over and over again.
I encourage people to step out of their comfort zone. Whether it’s taking that first step to transition from court/depos to CART, to get into CART fresh out of school, or even to push yourself further as a CART/Captionist in general.

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Are you a student? A teacher? Do you know someone with hearing loss? Do they know about live captioning?

CCACaptioning.org – join us, support our efforts to raise awareness and the CCAC mission – Inclusion of Quality Captioning Universally. Look forward to talking with you.

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