Cinematic language and the description of film: keeping AD users in the frame
Perspectives: Studies in Translatology
Year of publication
Audio Description has increasingly been the focus of academic analysis. This paper responds to the call for more reception studies. It discusses the results of empirical research comparing the responses of blind, partially sighted and sighted participants to two styles of description for David Lean's 1945 classic film Brief Encounter: a ‘standard' AD style that conforms to current Ofcom guidelines and a ‘cinematic' style that contravenes the guidelines by incorporating description of the camera work and editing. This visual code, which is part of the language of film, has been assumed to be inaccessible to AD users. The results suggest otherwise, with the majority of blind and partially sighted participants responding positively to the use of cinematic terminology. The diversity of description needs arising from the sight characteristics of the target audience is discussed, as are the resulting implications. The findings suggest the debate surrounding description of film should be informed by the responses of blind and partially sighted people, keeping AD users ‘in the frame'.