Case Study 1 – Braille CART Supports Student´s Pursuit of Doctorate

CART & Captioning Case Study I
“Braille CART Supports Student´s Pursuit of Doctorate”

In May 2007, Lisa Richardson RPR, CRR, CBC, CCP, received a call from a local university looking for Braille CART, whether on site or remote, for a student beginning her doctoral studies. As president of CART/Captioning at Paradigm Reporting & Captioning, Lisa had personally never heard of Braille CART but was intrigued. New applications for CART are exciting for the veteran court reporter who has worked with many people in the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing communities.

Lisa spoke with the disability coordinator at the university to schedule a meeting and begin a challenging exploration of screen readers, streaming text and compatibility.

“The best part of that first meeting was Theresa,” says Lisa of the student who had requested services. “We clicked instantly. She was an absolute delight – one of those wonderful people who make you remember and really appreciate why you got into this CART/Captioning world.”

The rest of the meeting was an exercise in frustration. Nothing they tried worked – the screen reader Theresa used did not like the CART or the remote CART software Lisa used. They needed a screen reader to work so that it would “translate” the text to the Braille display. There are several different kinds of Braille displays, which are portable keyboards that produce refreshable Braille that is then read by the consumer.

Lisa contacted State Services for the Blind and scheduled another meeting. To her pleasant surprise, SSB had a couple of knowledgeable technicians who were very familiar with screen reading software, particularly JAWS, which is what Theresa preferred. Through that meeting, Lisa discovered that for JAWS to read a document, a plain text document is required, which is not what Lisa´s software was delivering.

What Lisa didn´t realize at the time was that her CART software has an output setting that creates an instantaneous text or Word document. After several phone calls to several software vendors, she got the information she needed to reconfigure it.

Pursuing A Solution
With those pieces of the puzzle, Lisa started experimenting by obtaining a trial version of JAWS and trying different things to see what would work. Suddenly she heard that lovely albeit mechanical voice reading what she was writing. The next test was to make it work with a Braille display. They were coming down to the wire before Theresa´s classes started, so this was the last shot.

Lisa got together with Theresa again and set up the equipment, holding her breath. It took a couple of tries as Lisa questioned things like the best time to turn on JAWS. What settings did they need within JAWS that the Braille display would like? It turns out that even the document font size is critical for JAWS to enable the Braille display to work properly.

Excitement mounted when suddenly Theresa started reading exactly what Lisa had written. It worked! For the next hour, Lisa and Theresa “played with” the equipment to ensure that everything was truly working properly.

Just three days later, Theresa was in her first class for her doctorate, reading the lectures as they happened. Her professors – one from Switzerland and one from South Africa – were amazed by the technology and promised to take what they learned about CART and the new “Braille CART” back to their respective countries.

Lisa has since spoken with other universities about Braille CART applications and is researching the potential for remote services. She has also set up demos for other DeafBlind organizations.

“It was absolutely amazing to see it all come together,” Lisa says. “This is by far the coolest thing I´ve had the pleasure of doing, and I´ve been in CART and captioning for almost 20 years. Opening windows of communication, that´s what we do at Paradigm.”