Speech-To-Text Services and Interpreters 

There are a wide variety of considerations when thinking about accessible communication. Much of the content within Accessible UNH is focused on how to create the types of resources and supports that support effective communication. Another key area of consideration is ensuring real time access to communication, presentations, courses, or other similar content. 

 Two frequently used ways (though there are others) that real time access can be provided: Speech-To-Text Services and Interpreters. There are many factors to consider when making communication accessible for all. These factors include:  

  • Modality (in-person, online, hybrid) 
  • Context/location 
  • Supports available  
  • Type of programing  
  • Anticipated activities  

It is important to think critically about what effective access looks like for all participants, and when a request has been made, being respectful of the mode of communication for the individual. 

Speech-To-Text Services 

Speaker stands on stage

Speech-To-Text services (STTS) can take a few different forms, but most commonly this includes CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) services. A CART provider is someone who sits in the physical space and creates a verbatim transcript for either a specific person or in a format that can be displayed for all participants. Generally, a real-time transcript can be provided to any participant as many people can benefit from this type of support.  

It should be noted that CART is also commonly provided remotely. Since a remote CART provider is not in the physical space there are different considerations for how to ensure the provider can effectively provide this service. For example, there needs to be: 

  • Interpreter access 
  • Clear audio-visuals  
  • High quality internet access (there will be video streaming and it needs to be consistent and reliable) 
  • Access to presented materials  
  • Means of facilitating participation in groups  
  • Means of supporting question and answer sessions  

There are a wide range of other considerations based on the design of the event/course.  


Interpreters are individuals who are hired to assist with communication access between deaf and hearing people. The job is a complex one and requires an interpreter who speaks multiple languages and can quickly translate across multiple contexts. The most common request is for an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, but other types of interpreters can be requested as well. Only qualified interpreters should be hired.  

There are also remote interpreting options available, but generally an in-person interpreter is preferred. If an in-person interpreter is not available, then remote interpreting can be a viable option to ensure access. As with remote CART, there are additional considerations around   issues like access for the interpreter, audio-visual quality, and internet access that need to be discussed.  

Suggestions for Facilitating Access for Providers

  • Ensure providers are familiar with parking, the venue, schedules, and their role for the day 
  • Provide providers with any materials, relevant terms, relevant person names in advance of the event  
  • Discuss any expectations proactively 
  • Ensure providers have appropriate spaces (access to communications, but non-intrusive)  
  • Clear sight lines to and from providers  
  • Always have presenters face providers 
  • Provide captions on videos 
  • Space reserved for providers