Televised debates and accessibility in France

Televised debates during the election period


televised debates


Televised debates and hearing loss are they still incompatible?


This spring 2017 will be political! Indeed like the USA in 2016, France is now in the election period. On May 7th, we will know François Hollande’s successor. The coming months will therefore be intense in terms of televised debates. The presidential election is the most important election in France, so it seems essential and compulsory that every French citizen can have access to these televised debates. The law of February 2005 on digital accessibility had for ambition and objective to make information accessible to all, especially for the deaf and hard of hearing people. Twelve years later, improvements are still required.

Some figures:

  • 45. 8 millions voters in France in 2016
  • 6 millions deaf and hard of hearing people identified in France in 2016
  • 45 millions people watching TV every day in France in 2015
  • The entire French population (66 millions people) is concerned by accessibility today!

It should also be recalled that 34% of deaf people are inactive due to restricted access to employment or leisure activities, and isolation. Accessibility to information, and particularly to televised debates during an election period, is therefore essential in order not to accentuate this feeling of isolation.

Are televised debates currently available to everyone? We let Emmanuelle, deaf from birth, speak*:

How long have you been watching the televised debates?
“I followed the televised debates for the first time this year, but in 2012 I remember that the presidential debates were subtitled.

Have you seen an evolution since 2012?
“In 2012 the subtitles had a huge time-lag, it was impossible to follow! Today, with the Primaries, I am divided over this issue. Some channels play the game, when others still have very bad subtitles. Sometimes it is only one word out of two that appears on the screen, it is totally incomprehensible!
What worries me about the upcoming televised debates is the quality. The subtitles quality was quite bad during the Primaries, I’m afraid that it will deteriorate even more.

What do you expect from the televised debates today?
“I expect the subtitles’ quality to be impeccable in order to allow us to follow the debates like everyone else. Without being perfect, a lag of 10-15 seconds maximum allows us to follow the debate correctly.
I also expect the presence of interpreters [N3] in LSF (French Sign language). Deaf people using Sign language as their first language are excluded from the political debate since the campaign has begun. Indeed, no televised debates have been translated into LSF!
We are 6 million deaf and hard of hearing people in France. Full accessibility is required for televised debates so we can follow as everyone else and then, go to vote. Without accessibility, we are excluded from our duty of citizen.

The mobilization of various actors for televised debates accessibility


As pointed out in our meeting with Emmanuelle, the issue of accessibility is still essential today. In order to make television debates open to all, various solutions have been developed.

Avamétrie: Avamétrie is a collaborative platform created in order to evaluate audiovisual accessibility. The idea is therefore to allow each viewer to note the captioning proposed by the French audiovisual channels. Since March 24, 2016, Avamétrie has launched its mobile application available on GooglePlay and AppStore. The Avamétrie solution therefore allows people to provide feedbacks on the subtitles quality during televised debates.


The Authôt solution: We are a French start-up specialized in automatic transcription. Subtitling is therefore also part of our current responsibilities and missions. We help companies to respect digital accessibility standards through subtitling. We also support projects such as the La Brèche TV.

La Brèche TV project: La Brèche TV is a new French web-TV show which will follow the presidential election and television debates. Their aim is to involve many citizens as possible in the real political debate! La Brèche TV is supported by several actors, including Authôt for the subtitling. These videos are available on YouTube.


Authôt. You speak. We write.


*Interviewed by email, then recorded and transcribed by the team Authôt.


Sources :

LaBrèche TV