Audio Describing the TV series The West Wing: Towards a Coherent Practice
Year of publication
The exercise of audio describing West Wing offers excellent opportunities to reflect on the accessibility of TV drama series. This genre has great popular acceptance, financial success, and though it belongs to the much maligned popular TV media, has conquered art and film critics as a quality multimedia production. This success has not been matched with the minimum accessibility requirements. West Wing to mention one -but we could list recent hits such as The Office, The Sopranos, Mad Men, or Lost- is not accessible to the visually impaired. A new horizon opens with NETFLIX new accessibility policy with 100% subtitling and starting to offer audio description in the two new series: Daredevil and Grace and Frankie. TV series have suffered the same fate throughout academia with little research interest, and particularly in Audiovisual Translation: only four studies (Bucaria 2007, Fuentes Luque 1997/8, Herbst 1994, Zhao 2002) have been found to deal with TV series in the free access Bibliography of Translation Studies BITRA. This article was part of a brilliant publication idea by Christopher Taylor. Based on the same audiovisual input -- the Christmas special episode In Excelsis Deo from West Wing (1999) – many audiovisual methodologies were studied. This contribution focuses on the audio description of TV series in general, and with examples mainly from the abovementioned West Wing episode. It looks at issues such as: continuity, location, time, characters, emotions, sound, AD function and strategies.