ASL Interpreting and Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART)

ASL Interpreting Services

ASL stands for American Sign Language. An ASL interpreter is a trained professional who acts as a neutral, impartial mediator between individuals who use signed English and spoken English. ASL interpreters generally work with d/Deaf or hard of hearing (HOH) individuals to connect them with the hearing community. ASL interpreting services can be provided either in-person or remotely depending on the format of the event. 

*Video Remote Interpretation (VRI) is an alternative solution to on-site ASL interpreting when (1) there is a lack of available qualified interpreters, such as at a rural location; and (2) when there is no available interpreter to present on-site. If you have exhausted the resources of looking for an onsite interpreter and have not been able to identify the provider, you may want to consider VRI, which can be implemented in your event platform.

CART Services

CART stands for Communication Access Real-Time Translation. CART involves a captioner listening to the event and providing live captions to the audience.  The CART provider (aka captioner) types the words they hear into their computer and the captions are either integrated into the Zoom or viewed by participants via a separate link on their personal devices. Generally, CART providers can listen to and caption the event either in-person or remotely. 

If your event falls into any of the following categories, please arrange CART/live captions service:

  • University-hosted events, regardless of how many organizations are involved in the planning process or paying for the event. 
  • School-wide or other larger events that are advertised and expected to have substantial audiences.
  • Events that are live streamed on a GW website, even when a third-party platform is embedded.
  • Requests received through the event registration.
Request ASL/CART Services for a GW Event

All GW-affiliated offices and programs are responsible for the logistical and financial arrangements necessary to make their events accessible.

Agency Contact Information

GW has contracts with four agencies that can assist with scheduling ASL interpreters and live captioners for your event. Please reach out to [email protected] for agency contact info. If you are seeking an interpreter who is highly proficient and well-versed in a technical, scientific, or other specific field, please include this information in your request.

Tips for Scheduling Services

If you decide to send a provider request to one of the agencies Disability Support Services partners with, it is recommended that you provide the session name, date, time, location (or link if online), a description of the assignment, an on-site contact for the event, and the number of interpreters needed. You may also ask any questions about billing if you have any. If the agency is able to confirm a provider for the event, they will pass along the provider’s name and contact information.

The industry standard for interpreting services is that any event longer than 30 minutes generally requires a team of two ASL interpreters. If you have any questions about how many interpreters are needed for your event, the agency schedulers should be able to assist. Only one CART provider is necessary for an event.

As ASL interpreters and captioners can book out weeks in advance, it is recommended that you submit your request as far in advance as possible.

Working with ASL/CART Providers
  • Confirm the appointment with the following info:
    • Event Coordinator (GW) Contact
    • Onsite staff contact 
    • Event date/time/location/Zoom link if remote.
  • Ensure there is space for one to two ASL interpreters and/or CART captioners in the front of the room and near the presenters.   
  • Provide access to seating and a music stand or lectern to hold copies of event materials (they cannot hold materials while interpreting as they need to use both hands).  
  • Provide agenda, handouts, transcripts, PowerPoints, or other materials at least three business days in advance.  
  • When applicable, provide online meeting event details (e.g., Zoom meeting ID) at least three business days in advance.  
  • For captioners, they need to know:
    • If the captions will be delivered to one person or multiple people
    • If the captions will be displayed on a large screen or a designated link
  • For ASL interpreters, please check:
    • A visual background that is non-distracting to the participants
    • The availability of interpreters to view consumers and their comments
    • Elimination of traffic between interpreters and participants
Presenter Support for Captioners
  • Talk at a moderate pace, enunciate, and pause between phrases and sentences. 
  • Pause briefly between questions to allow individuals to read the captions and respond. 
  • For groups with multiple speakers, enforce turn-taking. Individuals should state their name before speaking. 
  • If the information contains important terminology or names (such as medications) spell the words to ensure the captions are spelled correctly. 
  • If the captioner cannot hear a speaker, they will indicate that in the captions. For example, they may type [Indiscernible], or [Speaker too far from mic to be heard.]

Source: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division, Department of Human Services, Minnesota Government

Auto-Captioning (AI-Generated Captions)

Auto-captioning could benefit many users but is not accurate enough to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires 99% accuracy (correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.). However, enabling auto-captioning within your event platform does provide a minimum access to captions, and it should be disclosed that auto-caption will be used. 

Captioning in Popular Platforms
Post-Event Captioning

If a video recording of a live event is posted to a public-facing GW website, the video must be posted with accurate captions as required by the Web and Digital Content Accessibility Policy.

Before posting a video, you need to review the captions to ensure that punctuation, speaker names, and the identification of sounds are correct. You may update the captions yourself or hire a vendor to provide accurate post-production captions. GW works with the following agencies on closed captioning production:

The rate varies per agency depending on the pricing package used; it is recommended to confirm costs with the agency before submitting work to be captioned.