Audiodescription and subtitles for the hearing impaired

Audiodescription and subtitles for the hearing impaired

Audiodescription and subtitles for the hearing impaired

Our main concern is to promote accessibility of different types of content for all. We are interested here in audiodescription. As you may have noticed, today audiodescription is increasingly being offered on television. Whether it is for movies or TV shows. But what does this system consist of exactly? What is the difference with subtitles for the hearing impaired? How to continue to promote digital accessibility? We answer to your questions here.

Audiodescription: origin and expertise

First, we will introduce you to audiodescription. In fact, audiodescription is a set of techniques that make films but also other audiovisual works such as shows or exhibitions accessible to the visually impaired people, through voice-over text. The voice-over is a recorded comment for people with visual impairments. This commentary describes the scenes of a film, a show, a TV show. Born in the United States in 1975, audiodescription is a technique that promotes the accessibility of audiovisual and cultural works to the visually impaired and the hard of hearing. Indeed, to understand and indulge in an audiovisual work for example a film the visually impaired and hearing impaired need material supports. With a voiceover but also a multitude of details given by the audiodescription and subtitles.

Audiodescription: evolution of the technique

According to the New York Times, Gregory T.Frazier, a professor at the University of San Francisco, had the intuition of audiodescription by watching « the train whistle three times » with a blind friend, who asked him for some details Frazier provides him it between two dialogues. It was not until 1988 that Frazier managed to make his first audiodecrite work with the film « Tucker ». In 1989, members of the Valentin Haüy’s association are trained in the original « audiovision » and bring it back to France. It is thus concretely, by the use of carefully chosen words especially for the significant noises to activate the imagination of the spectator, whatever his handicap so that he « recreates » the film internally.

In accordance with the writer and blind actress Claire Bartoli, the process of audiodescription has not finished evolving. I was asked to rewrite three audiographed films twenty years ago because we did not respect the soundtrack in the same way. We made beautiful literary sentences, we overloaded information We also have today more technical constraints with a more precise and accelerated work « . Regarding the implementation of audiodescription, the television channel Arte was pioneering. In Germany, then in France since the 2000s. Thereafter, the technical evolutions and the jurisdiction made it possible to extend this innovation to other channels.

Subtitles VS audiodescription for the hearing impaired

Let’s get now into the heart of subtitling. With the hearing impaired subtitles. In order to understand the difference between the two, let’s concretely present the subtitle technique for the hearing impaired. In fact, subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing is a specific technique for displaying text at the bottom of the screen. This makes audiovisual productions accessible to people with hearing loss.

Closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing is to transcribe the soundtrack of a television program, a movie. It differs from a conventional closed caption, by the additional information it contains. Subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing includes color coding and text placement on the image. This allows a better identification of the different interlocutors for the spectator with a handicap.

In France, white is used for the speaker visible on the screen, yellow for the off-screen speaker, red for the sound indications. Then, the magenta for the musical indications and the songs lyrics. Cyan is used for the thoughts of a character or narrator in a fiction or documentary. Finally green indicates the use of a foreign language.

Subtitling: real expertise

In general, subtitles are made in advance in the post-production stage. On the other hand, subtitles for deaf and hard of hearing live broadcasts are created in real time. This requires precision, rigor and expertise. There are two types of people to create these subtitles: the voice captioner or the velotypist. The voice captioner uses a voice recognition software. He repeats traditionally what he hears and the software transcribes the words into subtitles. The velotypist uses a keyboard for fast and orthographic input that allows you to write at the speed of speech, following a syllabic script. This technique is used in the broadcast of debates in the National Assembly or the Senate in France.

The Disability Act of 2005 imposed subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing. Yet this is still ignored or badly subtitled. The laws relating to digital accessibility and in particular the accessibility of television programs for the deaf and hard of hearing provide that French television channels, whose average annual audience is greater than 2.5% of the total audience, make since February 2010, all of their programs accessible apart from advertisements. According to the CISCO information center on deafness the transition to DTT has only slightly improved the situation.

EMS: a specific type of subtitling

In addition, it should be noted that subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing (EMS) intralingual is the most widespread. Unlike standard interlingual subtitling, it gives more information. This allows a better understanding of the context and the plot. Subtitling SM is often a synthesis of what is meant, in order to respect the reading speed for the viewers.

Finally, be careful: do not confuse subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing with French-French subtitling intended for French learners. It is a material written support to the dialogues.

Audiodescription and subtitles for the hearing impaired: a new decree for digital accessibility

In order to continue to accelerate digital accessibility and its implementation, a new decree has just been released this summer. In fact, this decree n ° 2019-768 of 24 July 2019 relates to « the accessibility of online communication services to disabled people« . Unlike the previous GAAR-based decree, the legislation now relies on European standards, the parts devoted to the web.

This decree determines the obligations relating to accessibility. It includes mobile apps. He sets several rules. First of all, the content exempted from the accessibility obligation, the evaluation criteria, the compliance deadlines, the conditions of the controls. It also determines the threshold of turnover of companies that must make their online communication services accessible. Finally, it specifies the mandatory procedures for training staff on this subject. Of course it is still too early as we write these lines to have a perspective on this decree. Digital accessibility in the broad sense remains to be monitored.

Digital accessibility and issues of professional captioning

Authôt, at its level, takes part in this evolution and this decree for better digital accessibility for all. This is becoming possible, thanks to our transcription and subtitling services. Indeed, our synchronization service allows to professionally calibrate all subtitles to videos. In addition, if you want subtitles to be inserted directly into a video, our expertise in keying is very useful.

Finally, our expertise and our automatic transcription application is a considerable time saver compared to the traditional methods mentioned above. In short, audiodescription and subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing is a complex science. to master from A to Z to further accelerate the digital accessibility of a large number of audiovisual content. On television, in the cinema, online and live.

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