Accessibility for the scenic arts
Year of publication
The origins of the following study date back to 2011 when the Universal Access System (UAS) was developed. This system was conceived and developed by the research centre CaiaC (Centre d'Accessibilitat i Intelligéncia Ambiental de Catalunya) at the UAB (Spain). It aims to create and broadcast wireless media access content in different Audiovisual Translation (AVT) modalities: subtitling, audio description and audio subtitling. The main challenge was to provide real-time access to verbal and visual information to both linguistically and sensory impaired audiences. Given the many and varied types of live cultural events, it is difficult to establish a taxonomy. Therefore, the principal focus of this study has been placed on two main Audiovisual (AV) formats: stage performances, mainly theatre and opera, and films screened at international film festivals. During the development stage of the UAS System it was observed how depending on the AVT modality to be delivered, external aspects such as the venue and the available facilities, which are not directly relevant to the translation process, determine the way in which AVT is produced, displayed, and consumed. While these aspects are not directly related to from the practice of translation, they should be considered when analysing surtitles and subtitles. Therefore, this study aims to approach accessibility services from a holistic point of view, analysing not only the AV product to be translated, but also where and how this AV content and its AVT modality are delivered. In order to provide an in depth analysis, focus has been placed on two AVT modalities: surtitles for stage performances and subtitles for international film festivals. Subtitles and surtitles in both cases are usually displayed on screens that everyone can see, but depending on the venue and the available facilities, the placement of the screen is different and the text displayed might not cover all accessibility needs of the audience. The main objective of this thesis is first to present the UAS system, a wireless accessibility service intended for all. Secondly, two different AV formats, namely stage performances and international film festivals, where the system could be implemented will be examined and outlined. The different stages involved in this work are presented as a compendium of publications. The articles included range from the definition of the UAS System and its possible fields of application within the AV environment. Finally, the recent developments that are being introduced in the AVT field, which trigger and demand new approaches in AVT Studies, will also be outlined.