Captioning Basics

Also called CART, realtime captioning is human-generated simultaneous transcription of spoken English (or other languages) into readable text.

Captioners (also referred to as writers or stenographers) use a machine that many people normally associate with a court reporter. They key multiple sounds at once, making their entries go much faster than a computer keyboard.

A woman stands at a lectern and reads an address from a laptop. She is light-skinned with long white hair wearing a white jacket and a red beaded necklace. To her left is Kyle Duarte, a medium-skinned man with short dark hair. Kyle is wearing a brown suit jacket and a dark turtleneck. Kyle is interpreting the woman's remarks in American Sign Language. Behind the two of them is a projection screen that shows a video feed of them, with captions provided in yellow font at the top of the screen. 
Kyle Duarte interprets a plenary address into American Sign Language. Behind him, captions of the remarks are projected above a camera feed of Kyle and the presenter. 

Who can benefit from captions.

Several groups can benefit from captioning services.

  • Deaf and hard of hearing people.
  • People whose first language is not English.
  • People with cognitive or motor disabilities.
  • People with other communication disabilities.

Captioning also has the additional benefit of providing an event host with a searchable transcript of what occurred during an event. This is especially helpful if you are archiving a webinar online and want search engines to be able to index your material.

How to display captions.

Onsite display.

For onsite events, we generally use captioners who are working remotely. Here are the requirements for this type of setup.

  • Your A/V team will need to connect their sound board to a Zoom room. We’ll share the link with the captioner so they have a good audio signal. We’re happy to consult with your A/V team to get this set up.
  • The captioner will captions to a web-based service called StreamText. You can view a demo here. Your A/V team can display this via onsite video screens, and you can also share the link with your audience to view on their own devices.

Free Download: Slide Deck Template with Caption Block

Remote display.

Many virtual meeting platforms, most notably Zoom (I’ve written an instruction guide, available here), will allow you to integrate captions directly into their interface. This way, your viewers can show the captions and adjust the size, contrast, etc. to their liking.

For platforms where captioning integration is not possible, we can setup StreamText, a web-based caption viewing platform, for the event. You can view a demo here. We’ll provide you with a link that you can share with your viewers.