Today, I had the opportunity to do a realtime on-site CART job for the United Nations’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities event. This is an annual event held by the Region of Peel to celebrate a year’s worth of service and gains made in the accessibility services to accommodate for those individuals who require it and to reflect on what we need to continue doing to provide a high quality of life to these individuals. There was a panel of members speaking and three speakers who were able to recount their experiences and stories of how accessibility has improved their quality of life. They shared life stories and personal accounts of what their everyday life is like and how vital accessibility improvements are. This is the 9th year that this event has been celebrated in the Region of Peel and promoting awareness and addressing these needs to the public and community at large. I was very grateful to be a part of it and to be able to provide a realtime transcript for those who needed it. It was also a learning moment for myself and another stepping stone for my steno career.
I’ve never done a realtime CART job on-site and I was nervous to say the least! I slept very little last night — tossing and turning because my heart was racing and I was too nervous/excited to sleep. I had packed all of my equipment into my trusty new wheelie bag and was ready to start the day. Thankfully, the skies were clear and I drove to the Peel Centre in Brampton without too much difficulty… although I didn’t expect so much traffic in the morning.. But really, I should have known better. I arrived and met Jullian for the first time who provided me with a schedule of the events and some speaking notes for the event. This was great and super helpful. I quickly set up and tried to do a quick run-through of the terms and names that I needed in my dictionary. I only had about half an hour to add entries from the notes before we would be kicked out of the room (the councillors had planned a last-minute meeting in the Council Chambers where the event would be held). There was not much else that I could do since I didn’t get the list of names and terms earlier to do more prep.
Jullian and I chatted a bit in the cafeteria on the first floor and before long, it was 15 minutes to ten. The event was starting momentarily! Back to my set-up where my laptop was connected to the projector and my text would be streaming on to the 100″ projector screen in front of me. Everyone was ready to go and I appreciated that one of the ladies made sure that I was ready before they started talking. The start was a bit rough, and actually, most of the time it was rough, but I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. My fingers were still working but I did have trouble writing down everything that was said. I would be lying if I said I did everything perfectly since I am still such a newb at this! I remember that my legs started shaking every so often during the event and it was because I was getting nervous — my legs were moving up and I had to keep them down on the ground to stop the shaking. It was rough. (I’m just glad that it weren’t my fingers that were shaking…)
During the entire event, if I had to describe what I felt like, it would be this face: >.< “I don’t know if I can do this but I’m on the spot and I’ve got to deliver and keep on writing.” I pushed through and there were times where my fingers just didn’t go fast enough. I found it difficult to catch up when there was a change in speakers. As Jullian said, it’s more difficult since you have to get used to the cadence of the speaker since everyone’s is different. The odd names and unfamiliar words also got to me.
Although there were words that I wasn’t able to write at times, I was thankful that I was had the time that I did get to add certain words to my dictionary since I used quite a few of them. The ones that came in handy were “accessibility” (which was used a lot for obvious reasons), the panel speakers’ names, and “International Day of Persons with Disabilities” which I was able to output in one stroke (small YAY there). Same thing with “AAC”, “Canadian National Insitute for the Blind”, “CNIB”, and “Accessibility Advisory Committee”. I even had to finger spell a few items on the spot because I didn’t have it in my dictionary. Oh, the stress of realtiming….
Despite everything though, this was a great learning experience for me. Would I do it again in a heartbeat? No, because I still need to work on my skills and become a better realtimer, but I’d like to do it again in the future. It’s fulfilling to be able to provide this service for individuals who need it and it’s also enriching for myself to learn something new and being able to share the speakers’ stories through written text.
After the event was over, there were red velvet cake, Christmas cookies, and snacks in the hallway, and mingling with the different panel members and guests. We got some good feedback from my work. The lady who was kind enough to make sure that I was ready before they started the event actually came by immediately afterwards and said something to the effect of “very good, very good” and someone else said that they were surprised at how fast I could “type”. In any case, I can’t keep myself happy with these compliments because I know in my mind that there’s so much more I need to do to get better. Another feedback all across the board was that the font on the projector screen needed to be bigger. Next time we’ll be able to configure something that will work — I actually realized how to fix this once I left the event… D’oh! >.< in any case, here are some pictures from the event. :^)
Thanks for reading! Happy International Day of Persons with Disabilities!