Working with Real-Time Captioners

Captioner Roles and Responsibilities

  • Real-time captioners facilitate communication in class. With real-time captioning, a trained captioner (similar to a court reporter) transcribes the spoken word in real time, and it is transmitted to the student’s laptop screen. The captioner provides this service either in the classroom or from a remote location. Real-time captioning services are also referred to as CART (Communication Access Real-Time Transcription)
  • Captioners are also expected to follow the Code of Professional Conduct described by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). This Code requires adherence to strict standards of confidentiality, neutrality, professionalism, and respect for consumers (including students, professors, TAs, staff, and other captioners or interpreters).
  • Real-time captioners also follow National Court Reporter Code of Professional Ethics, specifically those designated for CART providers.
  • At UCSC, we typically use remote captioners.  Remote captioners listen to what’s happening in the class and transcribe it. They work remotely and send the transcript in real time to the student’s laptop. Because captioners are remote, instructors rarely have any interaction with them.
  • In certain situations, on-site captioners may be used. In this case, the captioner will be in the room, seated near the student and with sufficient space to set up their steno equipment.  Please remember the following when a captioner is in class:
    • Captioners have an ethical responsibility to remain neutral. They cannot answer personal questions about the student, interject personal opinions, or assist a student with schoolwork. They are there strictly to transcribe what is being said. Address questions or comments regarding the Deaf student directly to the student.
    • Captioners should not be expected to hand out papers, take notes, participate in discussions, or attend class when the student is absent.
  • Situations may occur when it may be necessary for real-time captioners to share classroom information with other members of the DRC. However, any notes and transcripts are held to the same confidentiality policy as other disability-related accommodations.

Ensuring Successful Classroom Communication – Captioners

  • In order for captioning to work, you will need to wear a microphone in your classroom
    • Large lecture halls at UCSC have a “caption computer” installed in the classroom that allows the captioner to call in via Skype and listen to the class.  In these classrooms, you just need to wear the microphone at the podium.
  • In lecture halls, when not in use, microphones are stored in either the top right drawer at the podium or, in rooms with media cabinets, in the accessory drawer, along with various remote control units, test media, and a battery charger.
  • At the end of class, please take the batteries out of the microphone transmitter and put them back in the charger, put the transmitter and mic in the drawer and close it, then shut down the media system at the touch panel, which then automatically locks the drawer for security purposes.
    • In smaller classrooms, the student may ask you wear a small lapel mic that transmits your voice to a USB receiver in his/her laptop. This mic will not amplify your voice, but it does allow the captioner to hear you.
    • If the class is discussion-oriented, the student may want to place a special mic in the center of class to better pick up the discussion. The Learning Technologies and the DRC can assist with this.
  • If possible, do not start the lecture until the student is clearly connected to his/her computer and has access.  Sometimes this may not be possible if the student is late or for other reasons, but awareness of this need is good practice.
  • Keep in mind that the student must try and watch you as well as look down at the captions. This is not always an easy task.  Lecturing from the front of the room rather than walking around the room can help, as can ensuring that you face the class as much as possible and speak at a moderate pace.
  • There is a slight lag time between the spoken word and the captions appearing on the screen. Consequently, you may need to allow the student time to respond to questions during group discussions or when called upon.
  • If field trips are planned, let the DRC know ahead of time. It may be necessary for the student to bring a digital recorder along and have the recording transcribed later.

QUESTIONS? If appropriate, clarify disability-related needs with the student directly. Otherwise, contact the DRC at or 459-2089.