What is the difference between a court reporter and a CART provider?

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CART providers (Communication Access Realtime Transcription or Computer-Assisted Real-Time) and court reporters both use the same equipment and software, but CART providers always work in realtime for a primarily deaf and hard of hearing clientele, whereas court reporters work for attorneys or judges in courts of law or deposition rooms. They sometimes employ realtime, but their primary responsibility is to take down a full and complete record to be edited, printed, and sold to clients. They are paid a fee per appearance and a somewhat higher fee if they offer realtime feeds, but most of their income comes from transcript sales.

CART providers, on the other hand, work primarily to provide a realtime feed that is as complete and readable as possible, so they charge a higher hourly fee than court reporters, but far less for transcripts, if they choose to provide them. For them, transcripts are a by-product of their work, and their transcripts, unlike those produced by court reporters, are not certified verbatim. Often CART providers will offer complimentary or low-cost transcripts to the students whose classes they transcribe, with the understanding that the student will use the transcripts only to study from, and will not distribute them to anyone else. For reasons of liability, CART providers for large events will generally not offer transcripts; if a transcript is required, it's usually advisable to hire a court reporter in addition to a CART provider.

In an ideal situation, a CART provider's transcript will be 100% verbatim, just like a court reporter's transcript, and both realtime feeds will be identical. When push comes to shove, though, the court reporter will let their realtime feed fill up with sloppy or untranslated steno code to clean up later, rather than risk missing a word in the final transcript. The CART provider will make sure that the realtime feed stays legible, even if that means paraphrasing slightly or omitting redundant words. They're both working toward the same goal, but the court reporter always gives deference to the final edited transcript, and the CART provider to the immediate realtime feed. The National Court Reporters Association offers membership and certification to CART providers and captioners as well as court reporters, and many NCRA members provide both captioning/CART and court reporting services.

Reference: StenoKnight

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