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Remote captioning for events

What is Remote Captioning or Remote CART

Remote captioning or remote CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation) is the process of taking spoken word communications and transcribing it into text. Similar to closed captioning on a video; CART is done live in real-time where a CART writer listens remotely over the internet (via Skype for example) or phone, and delivers the reproduced text instantaneously on a projected screen, TV or a user’s mobile device.

Why Remote CART?

  • Make events, meetings and presentations accessible.
  • Word-for-word transcription can benefit everyone!
  • It is not just for people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Transcribed text can be accessed after the event for reference.
  • If the event is being filmed, the transcription can be used for closed captioning.

Costs of Remote Captioning

Accessibility should be considered part of normal business budgeting, just as food, gifts, room rental or speaker fees. Set aside some funds early in the planning stage in case there is a request for remote captioning, or better yet, provide captioning whether requested in advance or not, to make your event more accessible to everyone.

  • Remote captioning services range from vendor to vendor and usually have a one-hour minimum charge, and billed in either 15 or 30 minute increments after the first hour.
  • Average prices range from $110 to $300 per hour for live captions and transcripts.
  • Edited transcripts and closed captioning costs are usually extra.
  • In case the event goes over time, set aside funds for at least an additional 15 or 30 minutes of service.

Pre-Event Planning

Ordering Remote Captioning for a Toronto Metropolitan University Event

If this event is being hosted at Toronto Metropolitan University and you intend to use Media Services ( for the technical setup of your event; requests for remote captioning support should be made at the same time or within the same order. Media Services will coordinate the technical arrangements, however it is still the responsibility of the event organizer to order CART services through the vendor.

  • Media Service requests require a minimum of 48 hours notice and requests outside of regular office hours require a minimum of 2 weeks notice.
  • When arranging remote CART services through a vendor, requests should be made at least 1 to 2 weeks in advance of your event. Some remote captioning vendors might charge extra fees for short notice service requests. Ensure you have the proper equipment outlined below in the Technical Requirements section.
  • If establishing an account with a remote captioning vendor, ensure to inquire about educational pricing.
  • Contact to learn more about live captioning or Remote CART vendors.

Setting up a Room for Remote Captioning

  • Provide vendor as much information as possible about the event such as speaker names, topics, as well as any documentation available.
  • Ensure you have the proper equipment outlined below in the Technical Requirements section
  • Ensure all equipment is functioning at least 15 to 30 minutes in advance.
  • Call or email the CART writer a few minutes before the event starts to ensure the audio stream is working.
  • For captioning where the captioner will be physically present in the room, ensure you have appropriate chair and table for them to use.

Things to Consider

  • Advise the vendor to use Canadian/British spelling.
  • Know whether there is a minimum time requirement, e.g. some captioning services have a 2 or even 4 hour minimum, as this could impact your choice of vendor.
  • Important: Events can sometimes go a few minutes over the requested CART service time. Decide in advance whether or not you want to provide captioning beyond the prearranged time and inquire about the cost implications.
    • Before the event starts, inform the vendor to continue providing captioning services until the very end, regardless if it goes beyond the scheduled time, otherwise captioning may be cut off before the event actually ends.
  • If the event is being filmed and you intend to have the video captioned afterwards, determine if the vendor can include post-event captioning in the service.
    • Otherwise inform the vendor you require a “clean text” version for closed captioning purposes.
  • If you want the transcripts as well, ensure this is arranged as part of the service request with the vendor.

Technical Requirements

No proprietary or special equipment is required. The basic requirements for a good remote captioning session include a strong internet connection, microphone, communication method and a display.

  • Internet: It’s recommended that the device hosting the audio stream is hardwired, although a wifi connection will suffice.
  • Audio: Establish an audio connection with the vendor either through Skype, landline, mobile phone, conference call or another VoIP system that’s supported by the vendor.
  • Microphone: The most optimal solution is to use a high quality wireless microphone. Microphones can be passed around from speaker-to-speaker ensuring that all communications are captured in the CART stream. A built-in microphone on a laptop or tablet will not work well.
  • Display: Display the captioning feed on a separate large TV or projector. If captions can be accessed from personal devices (such as cellphones and tablets), include a link to the captioning feed or instructions on how to access.

Troubleshooting and Technical Difficulties

  • Broken Internet Connection: If the internet or wifi is not working, a mobile phone’s (3G or LTE) data plan might be powerful enough to deliver a basic audio stream.
    • If the vendor is situated locally, call via landline or cellphone.
  • Microphone Difficulties: In the event that a microphone doesn’t work, you could try using basic earbuds equipped with a microphone.