The volume deals with several aspects of audio description for the blind
and sight impaired which came to the surface during the AD session
of the conference Emerging topics in translation and interpreting held at
the Department of Language, Translation and Interpreting Studies of
the University of Trieste, 16-18 June 2010. The topics dealt with in the
volume range from the more established (linguistic analysis of ADs in
various languages, strategies to overcome possible obstacles while audio
describing) to the very pioneering (need to depart from guidelines, textto-
speech audio description, reception research in AD, environmental
description). The contributions by well-known authors (Saveria Arma,
Bernd Benecke, Agnieszka Chmiel, Anna Jankowska, Riitta Lahtinen,
Nathalie Mälzer-Semlinger, Iwona Mazur, Pilar Orero, Russ Palmer,
Agnieszka Szarkowska) offer palatable food-for-thought to anyone
interested in media accessibility.
Il volume approfondisce svariati aspetti dell’audio descrizione per ciechi
e ipovedenti che sono emersi durante il convegno Nuovi percorsi in
traduzione e interpretazione tenutosi al Dipartimento di Scienze
del linguaggio, dell’interpretazione e della traduzione dell’Università di
Trieste, 16-18 giugno 2010. I temi trattati spaziano da quelli più consueti
(analisi linguistiche dell’AD in diverse lingue, strategie per la risoluzione
di problemi pratici che si pongono all’audio descrittore) a quelli più
attuali (necessità di staccarsi da linee guida talvolta troppo rigide, audio
descrizioni prodotte da sistemi di sintesi vocale, studi orientati alla
ricezione dell’audio descrizione, descrizione ambientale). I contributi
sono riconducibili ad autori noti del settore (Saveria Arma, Bernd
Benecke, Agnieszka Chmiel, Anna Jankowska, Riitta Lahtinen, Nathalie
Mälzer-Semlinger, Iwona Mazur, Pilar Orero, Russ Palmer, Agnieszka
Szarkowska) e si pongono come spunti appetibili per tutti coloro che
sono interessati ad approfondire il tema dell’accessibilità dei media.
Il presente progetto è finanziato con il sostegno della Commissione europea.
L'autore è il solo responsabile di questa pubblicazione e la
Commissione declina ogni responsabilità sull'uso che potrà essere fatto delle
informazioni in essa contenute.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the
Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the
information contained therein.
Elisa Perego is a tenured research fellow in English Language
and Linguistics at the University of Trieste, where she started
to work in 2006. Prior to coming to Trieste, she studied at the
University of Pavia where she graduated with merit in Foreign
Languages (English and Hungarian) and was awarded a PhD
in Linguistics (2004). Her recent research interests and publications
lie mainly in the field of audiovisual translation, in particular
on subtitle usability and the cognitive processing
of translated and non-translated audiovisual material.
Environmental description is the description of general, physical, personal and social
space and action, where visual, auditory and other sensory information is shared with
the receiver in spoken, written or sign language, either vocally, i.e. producing sounds
or in another form (pointing, touching, drawing). It can be divided into the expression
of basic characteristics, basic description, precise and extended description, and it can
be carried out physically on the spot (close description) or far away from the target
(distant description). Description can be carried out spontaneously in real time, in joint
action systematically i.e. pre-prepared description or it can be recorded beforehand as
a text format, or as consecutive i.e. a postponed description after the event. The target
group may be one person or a group. In addition to verbal description, environmental
description can be produced with various sounds, such as vocalization without words or
other sources of sounds e.g. musical instruments. Interaction in a situation between the
describer and the receiver may be a one-way description or a dialogue. It can further be
divided into functional dialogue, reciprocal description supporting sensory perceptions,
telling and pointing in front of the target, reciprocal description by drawing or through
movements and the exploration of objects. In detailed descriptions the main subjects are
followed by details. Description can be classified according to the size of the space that is
extensive, large, in a room or nearby.
In many European countries foreign films are not dubbed but subtitled. An audio describer
has to include all the written subtitles in his script and try to make the description fit in
between. Dubbing countries like Spain, Italy and Germany are also used to combining
audio description and audio subtitling – for different reasons. This presentation shows
how audio subtitling affects the work of describers in a dubbing country like Germany. It
will present examples from daily work to show how many different ways are used to deal
with the subtitles.
Given that the production (esp. recording) of AD is quite costly, there are not very many
audio described films available on the Polish market. Moreover, there is practically
no audio description to foreign films in Poland since it has been assumed that blind
and partially sighted audiences will not manage to assimilate multiple soundtracks
(original soundtrack in foreign language, voiceover and audio description). In order
to overcome the cost hurdle, we propose text-to-speech audio description (TTS AD) as a
cheaper alternative to traditionally produced AD. We will demonstrate how TTS AD can
be combined with voice-over to produce AD to foreign films on the example of Volver by
Pedro Almodovar. We will also present the results of a survey conducted among a group of
blind and partially sighted audience after a screening of voiced-over Volver with TTS AD.
The results of the survey demonstrate that the participants are quite open to the idea of
TTS AD both as an interim solution – until there are more audio described films available
– and as a permanent solution.
AD reception research, or collection of feedback from the blind and partially sighted
as the target audience of audio described films, seems to be one of the best sources of
information to be applied when creating both AD standards and audio descriptions
proper. This paper presents experiences gained by the authors when conducting two
reception studies. The first one involved a questionnaire distributed to 18 viewers with
vision dysfunctions immediately after two screenings of audio described films. The other
one is a larger-scale work-in-progress, whose results will be applied in the development
of Polish AD standards reflecting the preferences of the blind and visually impaired
viewers in Poland, where the participants are being interviewed and presented with
AD samples. The authors discuss various methodological issues, including problems
with obtaining a sufficient number of participants, reflecting feedback from visuallyimpaired
AD consultants in the surveys and discovering user preferences. It is suggested
that responses concerning objectivity or subjectivity of descriptions should be elicited
indirectly (implicitly) rather than directly (explicitly) and that research results are more
meaningful if interviews involve comprehension questions and AD samples.