Contact us by email at or via phone at 1-800-951-5020 for a free estimate on our ASL and CART services.

Grand Rapids, MI CART & ASL Services You can Trust

American Language Services has been helping businesses and other entities reach the deaf and hard of hearing community for more than 35 years. While in-person interpreting, at one time, was the only option, recent technological advances opened the door to other options. Since we offer full-service Video Remote Interpreting (VRI), this article will be comparing Virtual American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting with Communication Access Real-Time Translation (AKA- Closed Captioning & Real Time Subtitling) known as CART.

 Please note that according to the American Disability Act (ADA) that deaf and hard of hearing community have the legal right to receive full access through the use of ASL and or CART services. The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities and providing ASL interpreters for deaf individuals complies with federal law and promotes equal accessibility.

Some interesting Facts About the City of Grand Rapids

  • The Grand Rapids LipDub was the first-ever city-wide lip dub video. With over 5 million views, their PRNewswire “Earnie Award” was well warranted.
  • Janet Jackson eloped to Grand Rapids with her first husband, James DeBarge.
  • Campau Square in downtown Grand Rapids once had a less-respectable name. Originally, it was known as “Grab Corners” for the poker rooms and basement bars in the area. The term was coined by Lt. Bob Wilson, a returning veteran from the Civil War.
  • Herpolsheimer’s, an old department store in Grand Rapids, is shown twice in the film “Polar Express.” Given that Chris Van Allsburg, the author, grew up in East Grand Rapids, it’s not that surprising.
  • Grand Rapids was home to a professional women’s baseball team, the Grand Rapids Chicks. Though they originated in Milwaukee, the team was moved to Grand Rapids in 1945. They won two championships, one in 1947 and one in 1953. A number of the women on the team were interviewed for the movie “A League of Their Own.”
  • Grand Rapids was named the top U.S. travel destination for 2014 by Lonely Planet, which is one of the world’s most successful travel publishers.
  • Meliville R. Bissell invented the carpet sweeper in 1876 to help clean his crockery shop. In the late 1890s the sweepers had become so successful that even Queen Victoria demanded her palace be “Bisselled” weekly.
  • From 1926 to 1935 Grand Rapids had the premiere Street Car System in all of the U.S. They became infamous for the personalization of their electric coach streetcars, which was part of a massive, and one of the first of its kind, advertising campaign.
  • The Grand Rapids metro area has more LEED-certified buildings (per capita) than any other U.S. city. They now boast the world’s first newly-built Leed-certified art museum.
  • The Grand River Times was first published by George Pattison in 1837, a year before the Village of Grand Rapids was incorporated by the new state legislature.
  • In Grand Rapids you are never more than a few miles from a body of water.
  • America’s largest 25K road race, the Fifth Third Riverbank Run, takes place in Grand Rapids. This race features participants from all around the globe.
  • Grand Rapids was the first city in the United States to add fluoride to its drinking water way back in 1945.
  • The first-ever community-wide festival of laughter, Gilda’s LaughFest, started in Grand Rapids. Since 2011, they have been bringing the laughs and inspiring other cities to hold similar festivals as well.
  • ArtPrize is the world’s most radically open art competition. Known for both the unusually large amount given to the winners as well as the jurying by the public, ArtPrize isn’t your typical art competition.
  • Touch typing (typing without looking at the keyboard) is credited to court stenographer Frank Edward McGurrin. While working as a clerk for the lawyer D. E. Corbitt, McGurrin and Corbitt wagered who could type the fastest. McGurrin won and went on to win higher profile competitions. His method gained popularity and eventually became the main way we type today.
  • The Frederik Meijer Gardens have one of two 24’ sculptures based on drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci. “The American Horse” is one of the largest equestrian bronze sculptures in the Western Hemisphere and was sculpted by Nina Akamu. The other sculpture, “Il Gavallo”, is located in Milan, Italy.
  • In 1904 Citizen’s Telephone Company introduced automatic telephones, making Grand Rapids the first city to have the service.
  • Grand Rapids had the country’s first “megaplex.” Studio 28 opened in 1965 as a one-screen movie theatre. By 1988, the theater grew to 20 screens and was the largest movie theater for nearly a decade.
  • President Gerald R. Ford grew up in Grand Rapids.
  • Heritage Hill is one of the largest urban historic districts in the country. Given there are 1,300 homes that date from 1849 and more than 60 architectural styles, this neighborhood is definitely properly named.
  • The Grand Rapids Ballet company is one of the largest ballet companies in the United States.
  • William J. Hardy became the first African American man to be elected to public office in Michigan. He was elected Gaines Township supervisor in 1872.
  • In 1883, a log jam of gigantic proportions roared through the city. This log jam was so great it gained the national headlines of the time and was called the greatest log jam in the nation’s history.
  • Helen J. Claytor was the first black woman to be elected president of the local YWCA in 1949. She became the president of the national organization in 1967 and led the organization until 1973.
  • Grand Rapids has a history of brewing beer. The first local brewer can be traced all the way back to 1836. John Pannell built a single-barrel brewery at the bottom of Prospect Hill (now the Waters Building at Pearl St and Ottawa Ave NW). In those days, beer was seen as a healthier alternative to water and marketed as a family drink.
  • During the Great Depression, Grand Rapids city manager, George Welsh, developed a revolutionary plan to help alleviate the hardships faced. He paid his residents with paper scrip money that the citizens could redeem at city-run stores for food, clothing and other necessities. His plan preceded the New Deal of President Franklin.
  • Grand Rapids is also known as “Furniture City.” During the second half of the 19th century, the city was a major lumbering center and in turn, the premier furniture manufacturing city of the U.S. Now, Grand Rapids is considered the world leader in office furniture production.
  • Before Grand Rapids was a furniture city, gypsum was its main industry. By 1850, 60 tons of gypsum were produced daily. Initially it was used for fertilizer by farmers, but as population increased and demands shifted it became used for plaster and stucco.
  • Grand Rapids has long supported the arts. It was one of the first cities to install public art with “La Grande Vitesse” by Alexander Calder.
  • Eugene Davis, owner of a greenhouse on Kalamazoo Ave., propagated the seed for the variety of lettuce that became standard throughout the nation’s markets. In the early 1900s growing lettuce was a large market, with one estimate suggesting that the city shipped more than five hundred thousand pounds of head lettuce grown under glass.
  • Grand Rapids is a center of Christian publishing. Home to Zondervan, Baker Books, Eerdmans Publishing, and Kregel Publications, as well as Family Christian Stores.
  • The rapids were leveled in the late 1800s to help with shipping logs and ships along the river. The city recreated the rapids in the ‘20s and 30’s.
  • Grand Rapids was initially founded as a trading post in 1826 by Louis Campau. Though the first settler arrived in 1825, Campau is considered the most important. He bought what is known today as Downtown Grand Rapids for $90.

Reference Sources: Movoto

Grand Rapids ASL & CART Language Interpreters

American Language Services is known for our high-quality, In-person and Virtual interpreters, as well as the outstanding client services we provide. We work in 200+ languages including Legal and Medical Certified and Qualified.  ASL and CART are the fastest growing languages in Grand Rapids today a language interpreter can be a very underestimated professional in the world today. There are over 100 languages spoken in the Grand Rapids Metro area alone. Many of us know one language, and we specialize in one field of study. Our Grand Rapids Interpreters are fluent in English and at least one other language, and they are knowledgeable in a wide range of specialized fields including legal, medical, technical, manufacturing, and engineering.

A brief history of ASL Interpreting in Grand Rapids

Most people know that ASL stands for American Sign Language. But not everyone knows that it is a distinct language—not simply an offshoot of American English. Though its beginnings are murky, many believe that ASL originated from a merger of French Sign Language (SLF) and local U.S. sign languages. While ASL and SLF are distinct languages, there are still some similarities between their signs.

What actually is ASL?   ASL a complete, natural language that has the same linguistic properties as spoken languages with grammar however that differs from English. ASL is expressed by movements of the hands and face.  ASL is a language completely separate and distinct from English. It contains all the fundamental features of language, with its own rules for pronunciation, word formation, and word order.  Because of the physical nature of ASL, a two-person team of ASL interpreters is required for assignments longer than 1 hour in duration.

The National Center for Health Statistics claims that 28 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, though only between two and eight percent of them are natural ASL speakers.  Helping these select individuals translate the audible into the understandable is the job of an ASL interpreter.  If you have ever been to a play, a concert or watched a government briefing, you have probably seen an ASL interpreter signing just out of view.  An interesting side note is that Statista estimates that there are currently around 60,000 active ASL interpreters in the USA.

The Benefits of ASL Interpreting in Grand Rapids

When it comes to communicating with hard-of-hearing or deaf audiences, there are a few reasons you might want to opt for a Grand Rapids ASL interpreter over CART services. These include:

  • A More Personal Connection: A real person has several advantages over a computer screen. First, human interpreters have an easier time conveying emotion. Second, they are better equipped to point out speakers and assist with pronunciation issues. Finally, an interpreter gives a deaf or hard of hearing person a chance to bond with another person.
  • Enhanced Speed: Skilled interpreters can hold pace with even the fastest speakers. Lack of delay makes it easier for deaf and hard of hearing individuals to keep up with the conversation.
  • Cost Effective:  While costs range by the type of ASL you need (Legal, medical, business, etc.) and when the assignment is scheduled, the cost off ASL, across the board, is less money than CART.

What Is CART?

While the majority of people know what American Sign Language is, the same cannot be said for Communication Access Real-Time Translation. Often referred to as CART, this communication method for the deaf and hard of hearing is best described as subtitling for live discussions. Unlike ASL, which relies on a professional interpreter, CART services are provided by a well-trained stenographer or transcriptionist. They transcribe anything said and then broadcast the resulting text to a phone, computer, or TV screen.

CART is often seen as a cost-effective and efficient way to ensure everybody can follow along. While often used to help deaf students in the classroom, CART captioning benefits anyone that can read.  Much like ASL interpreting, it can be done both onsite with a physical transcriptionist or remotely with an offsite one.

Why You Should Consider CART for the Grand Rapids Market

Communication Access Real-Time Translation is growing in popularity due to the following characteristics:

  • It Serves a Wider Array of Deaf People: If you do a little math, you will realize that 65 percent of hard-of-hearing people in the USA do not speak ASL fluently. CART makes it so these people can join in on the conversation as well.
  • CART Makes It Scalable: While people in the front rows can easily make out what an interpreter is signing, it gets harder as the distance increases. Since captions can be beamed to multiple screens simultaneously, they do not have to factor speaker distance into the equation.
  • The Text Provides a Written Record: Having a transcript of everything your professor said would be a godsend come finals. Having a record of a meeting can also provide clarity to all those involved as well. The physical nature of CART recording makes that possible. This ability is one reason so many college students opt for CART over traditional ASL interpreting. 

About American Language Services

Founded in 1985, American Language Services was there to help pioneer the rise in remote ASL interpreting options. Our dedication to quality and client satisfaction in interpreting allowed us to shift from a one-woman agency into one of the most successful language agencies in the world. Our language experts provide ASL & CART interpreting services to people all around the world. Because of our 24/7 availability, you’ll never have to worry about us not being available, on off times, for an assignment.

AML-Global has some of the most impressive linguistic talents in the world. These highly skilled language professionals are recruited, screened, and tested to ensure high-quality work.

Contact us by email at or via phone at 1-800-951-5020 for a free estimate on our ASL and CART services.

ASL Interpreting or CART in Grand Rapids: Which One Better Suits Your Needs?


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