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Steering Committee

▪ Aline Remael

▪ Nina Reviers

▪ Gert vercauteren

Organising Committee

▪ Sabien Hanoulle

▪ Jimmy Ureel

▪ Katrien Lievois

▪ Iris Schrijver

▪ Isabelle Robert

▪ Linne Magnus

▪ Christophe Declercq

Scientific Committee

• Maaike Bleeker (Universiteit Utrecht)

• Elena Di Giovanni (University of Macerata)

• Sarah Eardley-­‐Weaver (Queen’s University Belfast)

• Louise Fryer (University College London)

• Anna Matamala (Autonomous University Barcelona)

• Sonali Rai (Royal National Institute for the Blind, UK)

• Pablo Romero Fresco (University of Roehampton)

• Monika Szczygielska (Widzialni Foundation, Poland)

• Alina Secară (University of Leeds)

• Luc Van den Dries (University of Antwerp)

• Alex Varley (Media Access Australia)


Main sponsors










Opening by Prof. dr. Aline Remael, TricS, University of Antwerp

Panel 1 -­‐ All-­‐in design for live events

Kyra Politt & Karina Jones, "Extraordinary bodies, extraordinary access?"

Anna Matamala & Pilar Orero, "Accessible Culture and Training (ACT): defining a new

professional profile"

Łukasz Stanisław Dutka & Monika Szczygielska, "Accessible events – in search of universal


Sarah Eardley-­‐Weaver, "ALL IN: Creating an immersive experience of live performance for all"

Coffee break -­‐ Registration closed

Panel 2 -­‐ Accessibility for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Maartje De Meulder, "Sign language accessibility for live events"

Melanie Sharpe, "Every Word Counts"

Łukasz Stanisław Dutka & Agnieszka Szarkowska, "Bringing live subtitling to Central Europe –

challenges and solutions"

Zoe Moores, "Subtitling Live Events Through Respeaking – Increasing Accessibility For All"

Louise Fryer & Pablo Romero-­‐Fresco, "The Reception of Automatic Theatre Surtitles:

Preferences, Perception and Engagement"

Robin Ribback, "Augmenting the World – Accessible Live Events through Live Captions and

Smart Devices"

13:15 -­‐14:00 Lunch

14:00-­‐15:20 Panel 3 -­‐ Audio Description for theatre & opera



Elena Di Giovanni & Luciano Messi, "All is the keyword and the answer: opera accessibility at

the Macerata Opera Festival"

Kate Ingram & Helen Hall, "Dance: The Hidden Language of the Soul"

Natalia Kiser, "Live audio description in puppet theatre for children"

Hanne Roofthooft, "AD in the theatre: Post-­‐Drama"

Coffee break

Panel 4 -­‐ Audio Description for live events: beyond the classics

Louise Fryer, "Pastime with Good Company"

Rai Sonali, "Case Study: Audio Description on Live TV in the UK"

Irena Michalewicz & Natalia Kiser, "Warsaw 2030: Public debate accessible to the blind and

visually impaired"

Susanne Verberk, "Thank You For The Music – Live Audio Describing Buitenbeenpop Music


Mereijn Van der Heijden, "Pre-­‐recorded AD for live events"

17:40 -­‐ 17:50 Closing remarks

17:50-­‐19:00 Reception


Panel 1

All-­‐in design for live events


Aline Remael

Extraordinary bodies, extraordinary access?

Kyra Politt, Extraordinary Bodies, kyrapollitt@gmail.com

Karina Jones

In 2013, Cirque Bijou and Diverse City came together to form Extraordinary Bodies, the first

integrated aerial circus company in the UK. Members of the company include performers who are

deaf, visually-­‐impaired, non-­‐disabled, as well as performers who have cerebral palsy and who have

missing limbs. Behind the scenes, the broader company is also made up of individuals with and

without various conditions and disabilities. Consequently, accessibility was an integral feature

throughout the processes of writing, devising, performing and documenting the large-­‐scale outdoor

aerial circus production 'Weighting', which premiered in Exeter in 2013 and toured to various venues

across the UK in the summer of 2015. 'Weighting' featured deaf and visually-­‐impaired central

performers, some (British) sign language dialogue, onstage BSL narration, poetic sign rendition of

the live music lyrics, and live audio description. In addition, the company devised and delivered

Extraordinary Bodies Sings, Leads and Plays – a suite of workshops at each of the tour venues. These

were open to all and covered leadership, circus skills, music and choral singing. At each location, two

'unexpected leaders' were recruited and trained to help engage, involve, encourage and lead

participation from those who might ordinarily feel marginalized by such activities. At each location,

community choirs were recruited and coached. The choirs performed in song and sign in each

performance of the show. This presentation draws on filmed documentary, questionnaires and

conversations with management, bookers, crew, cast, workshop leaders and audiences to provide a

candid snapshot of the issues relating to accessibility in this emerging arena: the institutional,

financial and practical challenges, the strengths, the weaknesses and the joys of what was achieved.

We hope to invite conversation and to attract comment on the future of accessible outdoor circus in

the UK and beyond.

Karina Jones is a visually impaired actor and aerialist, who has worked on the 'Weighting' project

from its inception in 2013. She has a BA in acting and an MA in voice coaching. Karina has toured and

been involved with integrated and disability theatre for almost twenty years.

Dr. Kyra Pollitt has worked as a professional BSL/English interpreter and translator since 1990. She

specializes in performance interpreting, is a trained linguist, a writer, and in 2014 completed a

groundbreaking doctorate on poetics in natural sign languages. She joined the 'Weighting' company

in 2015.


Accessible Culture and Training (ACT): defining a new professional profile

Anna Matamala, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, anna.matamala@uab.cat

Pilar Orero, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, pilar.orero@uab.cat

This presentation will present the rationale for the ACT project, an Erasmus-­‐funded European project

(2015-­‐1-­‐ES01-­‐KA203-­‐015734) under the Knowledge Alliances 2 scheme, which aims to organise a

training course and to define a professional profile for the "Accessibility Manager/Expert for the

Scenic Arts". ACT involves partners from four universities (UAB, University of Antwerp, University of

Vienna, Queen's University Belfast), two policy-­‐makers (Catalan government, Flemish agency Enter),

one certification agency and two playhouses (Transit, NT), who will work together for three years

(2015–2018) to achieve six main intellectual outputs: (1) define the needs for accessibility in the

scenic arts; (2) establish the profile of the accessibility manager for the scenic arts; (3) propose a

learning curriculum at university level; (4) develop, test and implement a MOOC to train

professionals, (5) investigate mechanisms to provide certification; (6) develop guidelines to

implement policy strategies in the field of accessibility for the scenic arts and (7) explore the

development of a specific quality label. This presentation will focus on the main stages in the project

and will provide preliminary results obtained in the first six months of the project.

Anna Matamala, BA in Translation (UAB) and PhD in Applied Linguistics (UPF, Barcelona), has been a

senior tenured lecturer at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona since 2009. She was the

coordinator of the PhD in Translation and Intercultural Studies at UAB (2010-­‐2014), where she led an

active internationalization policy, and of the MA in Audiovisual Translation at UAB (2005-­‐2012). As a

member of the international research group TransMedia and of its local branch Transmedia

Catalonia. Anna Matamala has participated and led many funded projects on audiovisual translation

and media accessibility. She has taken an active role in the organisation of scientific events such as

the Media for All conference or the Advanced Research Audio Description Seminar ARSAD, and has

published extensively in international refereed journals such as Meta, The Translator, Perspectives,

Babel, Translation Studies, among others. She is the author of a book on interjections and

lexicography (IEC, 2005), co-­‐author (with Eliana Franco and Pilar Orero) of a book on voice-­‐over

(Peter Lang, 2010), and co-­‐editor of four volumes on audiovisual translation and media accessibility.

She won the Joan Coromines Prize in 2005, and APOSTA Award to Young Researchers in 2011. Her

research interests are audiovisual translation, media accessibility and applied linguistics. She is

currently involved in standardisation work at ISO. Website: gent.uab.cat/amatamala

Pilar Orero: PhD (UMIST, UK) teaches at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain) where she is the

director of the European MA in Audiovisual Translation. Recent publications include: Mangiron,

Carmen, Orero, Pilar & O'Hagan,Minako (eds) (2014): Videogame Localisation and Accessibility: Fun

for All; Maszerowska, Anna, Matamala, Anna and Orero, Pilar (eds) (2014) Audio Description. New

perspectives illustrated; and Researching Audio Description. New Approaches (2015) with Anna

Matamala. She is the leader of numerous research projects funded by the Spanish and Catalan Gov.

Leads TransMedia Catalonia. She took part in the working group at UN agency ITU 2011-­‐2013 on

Media accessibility and she is now participating in the IRG-­‐AVA -­‐ Intersector Rapporteur Group

Audiovisual Media Accessibility and ITU-­‐D creating MOOC course on Media Accessibility and is co-­editor

of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 35 N on Audio Description. She holds the INDRA Accessible Technologies

Chair since 2012 and leads the EU projects HBB4ALL (2013-­‐2016) and KA2 ACT on Media Accessibility

in Scenic Arts (2015-­‐2018).


Accessible events – in search of universal solutions

Monika Szczygielska, Widzialni Foundation, monika@widzialni.eu

Łukasz Stanisław Dutka, University of Warsaw, lukasz.stanislaw.dutka@gmail.com,

In Poland, due to ineffective and unworkable legislation, it was not public institutions or

broadcasters, but NGOs and academic centres, which took the leading role in developing and

providing accessibility services for live events. Respeaking was first implemented three years ago at a

conference at the Polish parliament and was quickly developed for numerous other events, including

the canonization mass of Pope John Paul II in Rome (2014) and a conference presenting the EU Single

Digital Market initiative in Warsaw (2015) with remote respeaking and interlingual live subtitling. We

worked with users, investigated the needs of audiences (the blind, the Deaf, the hard of hearing, the

deafblind) and developed standards and improved quality (using NERstar for subtitling). Step by step,

live subtitling was complemented with other access services, and we successfully experimented with

various ways of broadcasting subtitling and sign-­‐language interpreting to make events fully

accessible online, also to the blind. For live subtitling, we use Polish speech the recognition software

program Magic Scribe (Unikkon Integral) and we employ respeakers trained at the University of

Warsaw. The Widzialni Foundation created a postgraduate degree in accessibility at the University of

Silesia. The accessibility community in Poland was influenced by the legal and practical

implementation of the WCAG 2.0 standard. As a result, the Polish efforts and solutions are

interdisciplinary and universal. We implemented live subtitling as part of an all-­‐in-­‐one access service,

including sign-­‐language interpreting, induction loop and live audio description. We will share our

experiences of searching for universal solutions and of how we implemented, innovated and

consolidated these solutions to make live events fully accessible through a comprehensive service

and keep them accessible when broadcast online, thus trying to reconcile and answer the needs of

various audience groups. We will present results of our studies on user preferences and the quality

of access services in Poland.

Monika Szczygielska is a specialist in legal and practical aspects of accessibility, communication

specialist, political scientist (University of Warsaw); Deputy-­‐Chairman of the Board of Widzialni

Foundation -­‐ NGO specializing in websites' and events accessibility; member of Forum of Accessible

Cyberspace and Wide Coalition in Aid of Digital Skills; owner of Dostepni.eu -­‐ professional creators

team specializing in media accessibility. The team prepares sign language interpreting for the Polish

President’s website and for the films of National Audiovisual Institute. In 2013, as the first in Poland,

Dostepni.eu started using live subtitling through respeaking: during conferences and cultural events

and implemented subtitling in on-­‐line live streaming.

Łukasz Dutka is an interpreter, audiovisual translator and accessibility consultant. As a practitioner of

subtitling and a pioneer of respeaking in Poland, he currently works at the Institute of Applied

Linguistics at the University Warsaw in “Respeaking – process, competences, quality” research

project. He is also involved in training interpreters and respeakers. He regularly cooperates with

theatres providing surtitles. He works on a PhD on respeaking competences and quality in live

subtitling. A member of Audiovisual Translation Lab and Polish Association of Audiovisual Translators



ALL IN: Creating an immersive experience of live performance for all

Sarah Eardley-­‐Weaver, Queen’s University Belfast, s.eardley-­‐weaver@qub.ac.uk

Live performance is an intrinsically multisemiotic medium. However, facilitating access to this

multisensory experience for all remains a global challenge. This presentation discusses two case

studies from opposite sides of the globe, Sydney and London, to investigate the amalgamation of

translation methods used to engage the multiple senses and to create an immersive experience of

live performance for all. The focus will be on facilities and artistic approaches that work towards

providing an inclusive performance for audiences with varying visual ability, with a view to enhancing

the experience of the arts for the blind, partially-­‐sighted and sighted. Pioneering access solutions

that integrate innovative forms of audio description into the performance using new haptic and

sound technologies will be explored through comparative analysis of unique, ground-­‐breaking

initiatives at the Sydney Opera House and Dilston Grove, London. The use of tactile engagement to

enhance the audience’s emotional involvement in the performance is of particular interest, as is the

employment of techniques/incorporation of features that appeal to other senses such as smell and

taste. Reflection on the collaborative nature of the venture forms another important part of the

discussion. In each of the case studies, the following questions will be addressed: Who are the agents

involved in the creative, artistic, translation process and access provision? What is the relationship

between those agents? How do they come together to produce an inclusive arts experience? For

instance, the contribution of the creative director, audio describer, access director, sound technician,

external disability support groups and other stakeholders will be examined. The presentation

concludes with a discussion of future developments involving new interactive technologies that bring

together design team and audience to create an immersive experience of live performance for all.

Sarah Eardley-­‐Weaver, PhD in Translation Studies (Durham University), is Lecturer in Translation and

Interpreting at Queen's University Belfast. Her principal research interests are audiovisual translation

and media accessibility, especially subjects relating to performing arts, disability and promotion of

the human right of accessibility. She is currently working on projects, including the EU-­‐funded

collaborative project ACT (Accessible Culture and Training), that investigate innovative translation

methods overcoming linguistic and sensory barriers within the arts, education and health sectors.

She has led pioneering opera accessibility audience reception projects, collaborated with expert

practitioners in the field, and in April presented a policy briefing to the Northern Ireland assembly

concerning arts accessibility. Recent publications include an article in a special issue of Translation

and Interpreting Studies (8:2) and a chapter in the volume 'Audiovisual Translation: Taking Stock'

edited by Jorge Díaz-­‐Cintas & Josélia Neves. Sarah also specialises in French, Italian and German



Panel 2

Accessibility for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing


Elena Di Giovani

Sign language accessibility for live events

Maartje De Meulder, University of Jyväskylä, maartje.demeulder@verbeeld.be

After the now infamous episode of Nelson Mandela's 'fake' sign-­‐language interpreter, accessibility

for signers has taken centre stage. Drawing on decades of experience in both being a consumer of

accessible services in sign language and providing those services as a professional, I will present the

numerous contexts, logistical strategies and challenges of sign-­‐language accessibility for live events.

In the presentation, I will focus on political, academic and emergency notification services, although

there are many other domains, such as entertainment and culture, in which live accessibility is

provided and/or asked for. Often, organisers provide access for the first time and, as such, there is a

lack of standardised awareness of what is needed to communicate effectively with the target group

(signers) and to consult with them. How do conference organisers and well-­‐intending stakeholders

effectively provide sign-­‐language interpretation? What are the barriers and challenges they and their

potential audiences are confronted with? What are additional considerations to be taken into

account when you broadcast or webcast sign-­‐language interpretation? I propose to frame these

questions by using examples from events that have taken place in Antwerp and from international

events. With the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by over

150 countries, accessibility in sign languages is only going to become more visible. Preparing

ourselves for this development by looking at both the logistics (from a pragmatic point of view) and

the perspectives of potential audiences and responsible bodies is imperative.

Maartje De Meulder is a Belgian deaf activist and PhD researcher at the University of Jyväskylä in

Finland. Her research focuses on the development of sign language recognition legislation in Finland

and Scotland, departing from an interdisciplinary perspective engaging minority rights, critical

language policy, sign language planning and political theory. Prior to starting her research she

worked as an advocate for the Flemish Deaf Association for five years. She has extensive experience

of working with sign language interpreters in different contexts.


Every Word Counts

Melanie Sharpe, Chief Executive, melanie@stagetext.org

Stagetext is the leading provider of captioning and live subtitles to the arts and culture sector in the

UK. In this presentation, I will present an overview of the needs of deaf and hard-­‐of-­‐hearing

audiences and visitors, of the services currently available to the sector and of the developments in

service provision, technology and digital. This presentation will cover the current landscape for

access to arts and culture for deaf and hard-­‐of-­‐hearing audiences in the UK, examining recent

developments in service provision, such as expansion into the museums and galleries sector. I will

explore the technological developments that have enabled these advances, such as the use of vision

mixers and video scalers to present text alongside slide presentations, the use of wifi networks and

personal tablets for accessible tours, and the ways in which re-­‐speaking and voice recognition

software are increasing the scope and range of accessible events. Significant advances have been

made in the delivery of arts and culture content online, through live streaming, TV and cinema

broadcast. Technology developments are helping to make this work accessible to deaf and hard-­‐of-­hearing

audiences, opening up previously inaccessible events. Open-­‐source online tools are making it

easier and cheaper than ever before to deliver accessible online content. I will examine how, as a

sector, we stay at the forefront of these developments, when they are still in a state of rapid

advancement and flux. Advances in software technology and hardware, such as Sony glasses, are also

changing the demand from audiences for the type of service provision on offer. I will explore these

developments and the implications for the future of text-­‐based access to arts and culture.

Melanie joined Stagetext from Theatre Peckham where she was the part-­‐time General Manager.

Over the past 8 years Melanie has worked as a freelance consultant with a variety of companies

developing Boards, overseeing Change Management and HR issues. Initially training as an actor at

Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama on the Community Theatre and Theatre Education

course, Melanie worked as an actor/teacher for companies including Belgrade TIE, Pentabus, Age

Exchange and New Perspectives. From 1995 Melanie worked in Senior Management positions in a

range of venues including: Head of Education at Ovalhouse, Team Leader for Art of Regeneration (a

joint National Theatre and The Albany project), Interim Director of The Albany and Director of

Jacksons Lane. Melanie is extremely excited to have joined Stagetext at this time, due to the many

new initiatives and developments in the use of technology, enabling access for Deaf, deaf and hard

of hearing audiences to become active visitors in all art forms within a variety of venues.

Melanie says, “Only by keeping abreast of new and upcoming technologies and innovations, can we

ensure that Stagetext maintains its role as a provider of excellent Captioning/live speech to text

reporting. Our recently developed service for galleries and museums, demonstrates how important it

is to be able to use available technology to open doors closed for so long to our users and potential

customers of the venues”.


Bringing live subtitling to Central Europe – challenges and solutions

Łukasz Stanisław Dutka, University of Warsaw, lukasz.stanislaw.dutka@gmail.com

Agnieszka Szarkowska, University of Warsaw, a.szarkowska@uw.edu.pl,

While some countries in Western Europe have been delivering live subtitling for quite a long time,

until recently this was not the case in Central Europe, which grappled with many obstacles faced by

the region. Firstly, the legal requirements on the provision of access services were put in place only

recently; yet, there is still no legal obligation to provide live subtitling. Secondly, because of linguistic

and commercial considerations, leading speech-­‐recognition (SR) systems are not available for Slavic

languages. Thirdly, there are no stenotype keyboards which could serve as an alternative to SR. And

finally, until recently, few people had the appropriate expertise on technological aspects of live

subtitling and on the training required to provide such a service. In the past few years, a number of

Polish institutions have been trying to provide live subtitling at conferences and cultural events. In

2014, the Institute of Applied Linguistics at the University of Warsaw launched the project

"Respeaking – Process, Competences, Quality". The main goals of the project are to investigate what

competences respeakers need to master, how to recruit well-­‐suited candidates for the job, how to

train them and how to monitor the quality of their output. The hope is that this knowledge can be

made available to any institution wishing to provide live subtitling in Poland. As part of the project,

we recruited three groups of participants: interpreters, translators and a control group. All

participants took part in working-­‐memory, paraphrasing and error-­‐correction tests. Having

undergone respeaking training, they took a respeaking test and their respeaking performance was

evaluated by means of a set of different criteria. In this presentation, we will present the technical

obstacles and organizational challenges related to live subtitling in Poland, and we will share our

experiences with recruiting, training and testing respeakers.

Łukasz Dutka is an interpreter, audiovisual translator and accessibility consultant. As a practitioner of

subtitling and a pioneer of respeaking in Poland, he currently works at the Institute of Applied

Linguistics at the University Warsaw in “Respeaking – process, competences, quality” research

project. He is also involved in training interpreters and respeakers. He regularly cooperates with

theatres providing surtitles. He works on a PhD on respeaking competences and quality in live

subtitling. A member of Audiovisual Translation Lab and Polish Association of Audiovisual Translators


Agnieszka Szarkowska (University of Warsaw) is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Applied

Linguistics at the University of Warsaw. She is the founder and head of the Audiovisual Translation

Lab (AVT Lab, www.avt.ils.uw.edu.pl), a research group working on media accessibility. Her main

research interest is audiovisual translation, especially subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing and

audio description. Her recent research projects include “Respeaking – process, competences,

quality”, eyetracking studies on subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing, multilingualism in

subtitling, audio description in education, text-­‐to-­‐speech audio description, and audio description for

foreign films. She is a member of European Association for Studies in Screen Translation (ESIST),

European Society for Translation Studies (EST) and an honorary member of the Polish Audiovisual

Translators Association (STAW). She also works as a freelance subtitler and certified translator.


Subtitling Live Events Through Respeaking – Increasing Accessibility For All

Zoe Moores, University of Roehampton, zoe-­‐moores@outlook.com

I am currently researching how respoken subtitles can make unscripted live events accessible to a

wider audience. In addition to considering the quality of the subtitles, which clearly do affect access,

I am adopting a more global approach, exploring how this service, traditionally created for the SDH

population, also increases accessibility for a more diverse audience (Greco, 2015). Live events are

special because they are dynamic and personal. I hope that by considering how subtitling can be

incorporated during production, rather than simply added on at the end, it can become an integral

part of the event (Romero-­‐Fresco, 2013), conveying and complementing the experience as a whole.

Working closely with Stagetext, a leading UK caption provider, I begin with a series of focus-­‐group

sessions. On the one hand, I have identified two end users: the SDH population and language

learners, both with core needs as well as wider expectations from the service provided. On the other

hand, the event providers and respeakers themselves have considerations and constraints that must

be respected. Once these key requirements have been identified, I will draw up guidelines for

creating accessible respoken events, replicable in diverse settings and across languages. In addition,

there will be opportunities to combine different forms of access. For example, subtitling and audio

description could easily share vocabulary resources. Working as an accessibility subtitler for the past

1.5 years at Red Bee Media has given me in-­‐depth professional knowledge of respeaking. My

background in education has equipped me for designing and developing training through action

research. My presentation will outline current perceptions of accessible events in the UK and will

illustrate how the first round of respeaker training has been developed to meet the core needs of

those it serves. In addition, considerations required at the different stages of event planning will be


Zoe Moores studied French and Latin at Oxford before completing an MA in Linguistics at

Manchester, where she focused on the bilingual mental lexicon. She taught in both England and

Japan before retraining in 2013 to become a translator.

During the MA in Audiovisual Translation at Roehampton, Zoe was immediately drawn to media

accessibility, an area where she was able to develop her passion for language and linguistics in a very

practical way, alongside her interests in effective communication and equality for all.

Her work as an accessibility subtitler at Red Bee Media, Ericsson and research interest in respeaking

during her MA led Zoe to begin a PhD research project in October 2015 into the provision of subtitles

through respeaking at live events, tailoring them for both the SDH audience and language learners.

She continues to translate and subtitle on a freelance basis.


The Reception of Automatic Theatre Surtitles: Preferences, Perception and


Louise Fryer, University College London, l.fryer@ucl.ac.uk,

Pablo Romero-­‐Fresco, University of Roehampton, P.Romero-­‐Fresco@roehampton.ac.uk

The recent interest in the quality of audiovisual translation and accessibility services amongst

academics has resulted in an increasing number of studies focusing not only on the nature of

subtitles and audio-­‐descriptions but also on how they are received by the users. These reception

studies tend to analyse viewers’ preferences, perception (often with eye-­‐tracking technology) and

comprehension. However, given that many of these access services are provided for fictional

entertainment, it is also important to ascertain the extent to which the audience is engaged with the

artistic product they are watching. The aim of the Nesta/Arts Council-­‐funded CaptionCue project,

presented here, was to test the efficiency and reception of a new technology for the production of

automatic surtitles for the theatre. A specially-­‐devised 30-­‐minute play was held four times over two

days at the National Theatre in London. The first performance was attended by hearing users

watching the play with no captions. The second, third and fourth performances were attended by

users with and without hearing loss watching the play with captions displayed on an LED screen

integrated at the top centre of the stage, two LED screens on the side of the stage and tablets resting

on holders in front of viewers in the upper circle. The experiment yielded data on the users’ pre-­‐ and

post-­‐experiment preferences regarding the four different surtitle devices, the users’ views about the

performance of the automatic surtitles, the users’ distribution of attention between the surtitles and

the actors on stage and finally the users’ sense of presence and engagement with the performance

and how this compares to the sense of presence experienced by hearing viewers watching the play

without surtitles. The results show that the viewers were satisfied with the quality of the surtitles

produced by CaptionCue and that the distribution of attention between surtitles and stage was

efficient. However, important differences were noticed depending on the device used. Most

important, the study discussed in this presentation offers the first statistical evidence that shows

that far from drawing the audience away from the performance, the surtitles produced in this

experiment enabled the participants with hearing loss to be as engaged in the fictional world as the

hearing participants watching the same play with no surtitles.

Louise Fryer has been part of the AD team at the National Theatre since it began its service in 1993.

She also works for Vocaleyes describing live events around the UK. Louise was the BBC's describer

for the Audetel project, piloting AD for television in the mid-­‐90s. She has described films for RNIB,

IMS and ITFC. Louise is an accredited trainer for the Audio Description Association and has trained

stage and screen describers in the UK and Australia. She also works with gallery assistants and

curators on ways of making their collections more accessible for blind and partially sighted visitors.

Louise is a Visiting Lecturer in AVT at City University and Imperial College, London. She was awarded

a PhD in Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, researching the impact of visual

impairment on the reception of AV media. Louise has also been a regular radio broadcaster for the


Pablo Romero Fresco is a Reader in Translation and Filmmaking at the University of Roehampton. He

is the author of the book Subtitling through Speech Recognition: Respeaking (Routledge) and the

editor of The Reception of Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Europe (Peter Lang). He is

Ofcom’s external reviewer to assess the quality of live subtitles in the UK and has collaborated with

Stagetext and the National Gallery in the UK, Ai-­‐Media in Australia, Swiss TXT in Switzerland and

North-­‐West University in South Africa, among other institutions, to introduce and improve


espeaking-­‐based access to TV and live events in museums, galleries and classrooms for people with

hearing loss. He is a member of the first World-­‐wide Focus Group on Audiovisual Media Accessibility

organised by the United Nation's ITU and of the research group CAIAC/Transmedia Catalonia, for

which he coordinated the subtitling part of the EU-­‐funded project DTV4ALL. Pablo is also a filmmaker

and is working on a new initiative, accessible filmmaking, to integrate translation and accessibility as

part of the filmmaking process. His first documentary, Joining the Dots (2012), about blindness and

audio description, was screened during the 69th Venice Film Festival as well as at other festivals in

London, Poland, France, Switzerland and Austria and was used by Netflix and by schools around

Europe to raise awareness about audio description.


Augmenting the World – Accessible Live Events through Live Captions and

Smart Devices

Robin Ribback, VerbaVoice

Roughly 360 million people worldwide are affected by significant hearing loss. Their full participation

in the society around them depends on complete access to spoken communication. Munich-­‐based

technology provider VerbaVoice has developed a cloud-­‐based online interpreting platform to provide

hearing-­‐impaired people with the best possible live experiences. Online systems, mobile devices and

even wearables can make spoken language accessible to both people who cannot hear and those

who do not know the language. Solutions such as remote speech-­‐to-­‐text reporting and sign language

video help to provide flexible and cost-­‐efficient ways of making live events accessible to everyone.

And these technological developments work for multilingual conferences too: The combination of

conference interpreters and speech-­‐to-­‐text reporters through the accessible online platform

developed by VerbaVoice enables the live translation of spoken content into live captions in another

language. So what is next? Augmented reality, cloud technologies, Smart TV and mobile apps are

revolutionizing the way hearing-­‐impaired people can follow live events, theatre, cinema and political

debates. What works for deaf and hard-­‐of-­‐hearing people, removes language barriers at

international conferences and for opera and film festivals as well. The new VerbaVoice app "LiveCap"

sets up a connection between augmented-­‐reality glasses designed by Sony and the VerbaVoice

remote interpreting platform or an automatic speech recognition engine. The app also provides

automatic live translation into various languages simply by swiping into a different virtual room of

the platform. The core system is already in use in the field of inclusive education for the deaf and

hard of hearing and for accessible live events on-­‐site, through a web player and the mobile event

app. Transferring the system onto augmented-­‐reality glasses now enables the audience to see live

captions without having to take their eyes off the speaker.

Robin Ribback (*1968), CIO and co-­‐founder of VerbaVoice, is responsible for operations and

technological development and the primary contact for the business unit of media and broadcast.

Previously, he has been Head of Product Management and Business Development for Broadcast and

Media at NorCom in Munich, Germany. As a board member of Media Professionals AG he developed

a range of complex platforms of international recognition for TV and radio broadcasting via

satellite/cable TV, internet and Wireless LAN. He is now using his 15 years of professional experience

at the interface between IT and media to design and enhance IT solutions for the deaf and hard of


The Munich-­‐based company VerbaVoice has developed an accessible real-­‐time communication

solution providing live text and sign language video for hearing impaired people. The cloud based

system makes spoken content visible on mobile and smart devices, screens or through a livestream.


Panel 3

Audio Description for theatre & opera


Louise Fryer

All is the keyword and the answer: opera accessibility at the Macerata Opera


Elena Di Giovani, University of Macerata, elena.digiovanni@unimc.it

Luciano Messi, Sferisterio Opera Festival

This presentation aims to report on a long-­‐lasting, successful experience of opera accessibility in

Italy. Having started in 2008, with two live audio descriptions self-­‐funded by researchers from the

University of Macerata, accessible operas have been growing ever since, with a constant increase in

the number of services offered and end-­‐users involved. This last season (July–August 2015) saw the

provision of live intralingual surtitles for all 12 performances, 3 audio described operas for an overall

150 service users, 3 thematic touch tours with 80 participants, audio introductions (AIs) – for the 3

operas on stage – made available for download on the opera house website, with over 200

downloads in slightly more than two months. In line with principles of inclusive design applied to

media, entertainment and their fruition, this presentation focuses on "all" as a keyword and an

answer. "All" is indeed a keyword in the ongoing project, for the following three reasons: (1) since its

inception, SOF access services, initially unknown to all, have been involving more and more

professionals working for the festival: from technicians to stage and technical managers, from

musicians to singers, from stage directors to set and costume designers, from ushers to props and

costume managers; (2) the numbers of users of access services have greatly increased: from a limited

number of blind patrons in 2008, to all viewers of open surtitles during performances since 2009,

expanding to individuals (blind and non-­‐blind) attending touch tours even without a performance

ticket; (3) for the past two years, the festival's artistic director, Francesco Micheli, has been using

"accessibility" as a keyword for his own strategy, aiming to bring closer to operas as many – and

diverse – viewers as possible. "All" also applies to the geographical origin of users of SOF access

services: blind patrons come from all over Italy to enjoy live audio description, and the audio

introductions available for download were accessed from all over Italy and well beyond. "All" is also

an answer, that is, one of the most significant words found in the feedback questionnaires filled out

by blind patrons who attended audio described performances and touch tours. To quote but some of

the replies given, "all can benefit from these services", "in the AD I can hear the voice of all creators,

from the director to the costume designer". Feedback questionnaires, as well as other information

about the users of our access services, will close our presentation, possibly fostering collaborations

and joint projects across Europe.

Elena Di Giovanni teaches audiovisual translation and accessibility at the University of Macerata,

Italy. She holds a PhD in audiovisual translation and has been a translator and audio describer for the

media and entertainment sectors for over 20 years. She is a regular Visiting Lecturer at the University


of Roehampton, London (UK) and Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA. Since 2008, she has

been coordinator of access services for the Macerata Opera Festival.

Luciano Messi has been Director of Artistic and Technical Organization for the Sferisterio Opera

Festival in Macerata, Italy since 2007. He has worked extensively in the field of opera and theatre

management, specializing on opera since 1993. He has worked with the Arena in Verona, Le Muse

theatre in Ancona, La Fenice in Venice. He is also Director of the opera network of the Marche

Region (Rete Lirica Marchigiana).


Dance: The Hidden Language of the Soul

Kate Ingram, NI Sightlines, nisightlines@gmail.com

Helen Hall

Working with Maiden Voyage, a contemporary dance company in Northern Ireland, I have audio-­described

dance shows for young people and for dancers who are blind and visually impaired. Such

descriptions are full of challenges. There is no story, but abstract shapes and moves. There are no

characters and the costumes are often unremarkable. Technical language will not be understood by

everyone, yet simpler language cannot be repeated too often or it becomes tedious. It is hard to

gauge how helpful the descriptions are. Yet, it is important. In the new context of dance

performances in public spaces, blind people cannot be excluded. If they happen into a democratic

space, such as a museum, when a dance performance is in progress, they must feel included as part

of the community. In this context, interpretation can be seen as vital and when meaning is

extrapolated from shape, form and moves, in collaboration with the choreographer and dancers, the

audio-­‐description has more impact on the user. A dancer and choreographer with a visual

impairment adds her perspective as a dance tutor to blind and visually impaired dancers. In addition

to describing moves and positions, Helen manipulates some of her performers or they are able to

feel the positions, which sighted dancers take up. She takes objects, which exemplify positions, to

class. For example, a spiral of pasta can be felt and imitated by the dancer's limbs. In addition, she is

experimenting with attempting universal dance design, incorporating audio-­‐description into a

soundtrack, which will be heard by all the audience members. It can tell a story of the set, of

costumes and of the way in which the dance was created, as well as describe the moves and their

symbolic importance and the overall feel of the piece.

Helen Hall is a practising dancer and choreographer who dances, and facilitates workshops. She is

visually impaired and works in dance with people with disabilities, including profoundly blind and

visually impaired dancers. Her recent work is exploring the notion of universal dance.

Kate Ingram worked as a researcher at Queen's University Belfast, then ran an organisation to

involve disabled people in the arts for 21 years. She has been audio-­‐describing theatre, museum

exhibits and art exhibitions since 2000 and has also delivered training in audio-­‐description

techniques. In 2013 she began working with 'Maiden Voyage Dance' to audio-­‐describe their

contemporary dance performances and is constantly seeking ways of making these descriptions

more evocative of the work. She is proposing to do an PhD. on audio-­‐description of museum exhibits.


Live audio description in puppet theatre for children

Natalie Kiser, University of Warsaw, nataliakiser@hotmail.com

This presentation focuses on how to create audio description (AD) for children’s puppet theatre. We

prepared an AD script to the play Plastusiowy pamiętnik by Maria Kownacka, directed by Lech

Chojnacki in the Baj Theatre in Warsaw. We examined how the AD script, together with an audio-­introduction

(AI) read live and a touch-­‐tour including touching the objects, puppets, stage design

elements and actors' costumes, helped young audience with visual impairments to experience the

play. We focused on how the play Plastusiowy pamiętnik was staged in the Baj Theatre in Warsaw.

The presentation of the plot and characters of the book, the specificity of the direction of the play by

Lech Chojnacki, the most important features of 'object theatre', and numerous challenges faced by

the audio describer that stemmed from artistic decisions of all the creative team were followed by a

demonstration of strategies chosen to create both the AD script and additional tools complimenting

it (i.e. audio introduction and touch-­‐tour). Our objectives were twofold: to answer the question

“What is the most suitable style of AD for a puppet performance for children?” and to understand

whether additional techniques, such as an audio-­‐introduction or a touch-­‐tour including tactile

discovery of puppets, props and actors' costumes, would help visually impaired audiences to fully

participate in a puppet performance, to follow its plot and to fully immerse in a theatrical

experience. In order to reach our goal, we conducted a study (after the play) in the form of

structured interviews with visually impaired young spectators. Face-­‐to-­‐face conversations with

children provided us with valuable feedback on our AD. Audience reactions convinced us that the

chosen strategies were suitable and could be used during the preparation of future AD scripts for

children's puppet theatre.

Natalia Kiser is a graduate of State Theatre School in Wroclaw, has an M.A. from the Puppetry

Department (2009) and is a graduate of Applied Linguistics from University of Warsaw (2015), where

she obtained an M.A. in Interpretation. Since October 2015 she is a PhD student at Faculty of Applied

Linguistics at University of Warsaw, where she conducts research on simultaneous audio description

for live events. She has worked in the Baj Puppet Theatre in Warsaw since 2010, where she is an

actress, an audio describer and a voice-­‐talent. She also works as an interpreter and audiovisual

translator, writes audio descriptions for theatre, reads them, and prepares subtitles for theatre

performances, as well as provides live audio description during debates and cultural events. Being

both a practitioner and a scholar, she manages to implement the findings of her research into real

life, and thanks to action research, to improve the service aimed at making culture accessible for

audiences with visual impairments.


AD in the theatre: Post-­‐Drama

Hanne Roofthooft, University of Antwerp, TricS, Hanne.roofthooft@uantwerpen.be

AD in theatre provides a verbal translation of the visual information that is missed out by the blind

and visually impaired people (VIPs). In postdramatic theatre, however, language is no longer the

main theatrical sign to narrate a story. Although Fischer-­‐Lichte (2009) claims that all theatrical signs

can be replaced with linguistic signs, it is not at all simple to talk someone through a postdramatic

theatrical experience. Sometimes the silence that is wrapped around an image has a crucial meaning

and by putting that image into words, we lose the silence and therefore the tension, the image–

silence meaning as a whole. Given the nature of theatrical signs, AD does not and cannot replace all

visual theatrical signs. However, it does become a sign in its own right. Just as Mazur (2014) states

when discussing AD for the cinema, we expect AD to relay more than simply the storyline. It is about

the experience, much more than about getting the story. Though AD has acquired its place in

research and in daily life, there is not yet an overall standard of the procedure in theatre. Without a

solid foundation, it is hard to look for improvement or to experiment on alternative forms of AD.

Therefore, this presentation investigates how AD in (postdramatic) theatre works today and what the

challenges are. In theatre, every semiotic sign that stands out or is given special attention receives

this attention for a reason and must be acknowledged as a reference to the meaning it wishes to

convey. However, AD in theatre cannot give each isolated sign the attention it demands. This need

not be problematic since the issue is not what every sign on its own has to tell, but what is created by

combining all those signs. The AD should verbally express the unique interaction and movement of

all the relevant theatrical signs together and how they affect each other. The study reported on in

this presentation adopts a corpus-­‐based approach, starting from several plays, all performed at

NTGent or Toneelhuis during the season of 2016. First, there is a talk with the creator of the play to

detect his intentions, without aiming to stifle potentially multiple meaning to the play. The creator

makes important decisions, chooses accents and leaves his mark on the performance. He is asked to

select a number of key moments during the performance, which the researcher will record using a

system of signs developed in the field of semiotics. These moments will then be used as a guidance

by the researcher to question the AD users, after the performance, about how they experienced it. In

addition, the researcher will discuss with AD users how the creator's vision touched them. To find out

what some of the major challenges for AD are in (postdramatic) theatre, the conversation with the

creator is placed next to the conversation with AD users. We hope the comparison will show what

information gets lost or takes a whole other turn during its passage from creator to audience,

through AD. The data will allow the researcher to detect shortcomings in the AD and may allow her

to find ways to fill them.

Hanne Roofthooft received her Master degree in film and theatre studies from the University of

Antwerp in 2014. Her dissertation focused on the use and usefulness of semiotics for theatre studies.

A theatre performance can be analysed as a system of semiotic signs, each representing a certain

meaning. The meaning of the performance is constituted by those signs, and the way they interact

with each other. In August 2015 Hanne started a one-­‐year pilot study on audio description for

theatre financed by the University of Antwerp, where she is currently working as a research assistant

at the Department of Applied Linguistics/Translators and Interpreters. Her research combines

expertise and methodologies from Translation Studies and Theatre Studies and makes use of

semiotics for the analysis of the content and quality of the current AD for theatre in Flanders. Her

research is carried out in collaboration with two Flemish theatres who regularly provide

performances with AD: the Nederlands Toneel Gent and Het Toneelhuis (in Antwerp).


Panel 4

Audio Description for live events: beyond the classics


Pablo Romero-­‐Fresco

Pastime with Good Company

Louise Fryer, University College London, l.fryer@ucl.ac.uk

I have previously argued that "[s]ound as much as vision influences choices in AD"(2010). This is

especially true of live events. Claudia Angelelli (2000) defines at least one mode of AV translation in a

live context (interpreting) as a communicative event. Pedro Castillo Ortiz (2015) argues that

"[c]ommunicative events [are] a social interaction, wider and more complex than a cognitive

process". If the live context provides "the set of factors governing the exchange", surely the sounds

made by the sighted audience are integrated into the sounds from the stage to form the equivalent

of a film’s soundtrack". Wadensjö, (1998: 154) has shown how "an utterance is a thread in a net of

intertwined communicative behaviour". This presentation discusses how the information at a live

event is not limited to that of the artistic product but is inextricably linked to its reception by fellow

audience members. Thus, the describer's choices of what to describe may be fundamentally different

to those made for a screen ST that is less likely to be watched in the company of a large group of


Louise Fryer has been part of the AD team at the National Theatre since it began its service in 1993.

She also works for Vocaleyes describing live events around the UK. Louise was the BBC's describer

for the Audetel project, piloting AD for television in the mid-­‐90s. She has described films for RNIB,

IMS and ITFC. Louise is an accredited trainer for the Audio Description Association and has trained

stage and screen describers in the UK and Australia. She also works with gallery assistants and

curators on ways of making their collections more accessible for blind and partially sighted visitors.

Louise is a Visiting Lecturer in AVT at City University and Imperial College, London. She was awarded

a PhD in Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, researching the impact of visual

impairment on the reception of AV media. Louise has also been a regular radio broadcaster for the



Case Study: Audio Description on Live TV in the UK

Rai Sonali, RNIB

On Wednesday, 29 October 2012, Channel 4 broadcast the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012

Paralympic Games with audio description (AD). It marked the first time that AD was delivered on a

live event on linear television in the UK. The ceremony was broadcast simultaneously on Channel 4

and More4, and viewers who wished to listen to AD were requested to switch to More4 at the start

of the programme. Over 200,000 people watched the special coverage on More4 that evening. The

describers who took on the responsibility had a firm background in theatre description. The

instructions from the network included embracing the artistic treatment of the ceremony and so the

duo worked closely with the ceremony producers to ensure that their commentary was rich and

appropriately descriptive. The described track was also provided in the stadium, with Channel 4

providing the organising committee with the feed. It was an innovative and inclusive solution that

overcame the technical barriers on delivering AD on broadcast AD systems that are popular in the

UK. RNIB received positive comments for days after the Opening ceremony (e.g., "Thank goodness

for the More 4 AD, I watched to see what it was all about and stayed with it as it was so good.”).

However three years and thousands of hours of live television later, this has never been repeated

again on UK TV. RNIB takes a look at three pressing questions: (1) What are the main barriers to

making AD on live events possible?, (2) Are these barriers technical? and (3) Do the rich descriptions

delivered by mainstream commentators complete the job? The case study that will be presented

shows how the AD was designed and was made part of one of the biggest event in the UK in the

recent years, what its successes were and the what the potential opportunities for a few repeats are.

Sonali Rai is the Audio Description Advocacy Executive at RNIB, UK with a responsibility to lobby for

audio description (AD) on traditional and emerging video platforms in the UK.

Some of her key work has included:

• The Audio Description App Project that aims to explore the potential of some technologies that

allow the delivery of AD in alternate ways for content being viewed on video on-­‐demand services.

• Authored the International Audio Description Toolkit commissioned by the World Blind Union;

• Published a paper comparing the different AD guidelines that are used by describers across the


• Audio description of the first batch of Hindi-­‐ language films, one of which was described in both

English and Hindi.


Warsaw 2030: Public debate accessible to the blind and visually impaired

Irena Michalewicz, University of Warsaw, irena.michalewicz@gmail.com

Natalia Kiser, University of Warsaw, nataliakiser@hotmail.com

In September and October 2015, the Warsaw City Hall organized a series of events open to the public

called Warsaw 2030. Four debates and one conference took place at four different locations in

Warsaw (Palace of Culture and Science, Copernicus Science Centre, Culture Promotion Centre in the

Praga-­‐Południe district and Warsaw University Library). These events were a part of a project which

aims at formulating strategies for the capital’s development to 2030. The City Hall encouraged the

citizens of Warsaw to participate in the debates and to join three working groups that discussed the

themes of society, space and economy. The five events were made accessible to the blind and

visually impaired and to the deaf and hard of hearing. The organisers provided the audience with an

induction loop, a sign language interpreter and a live audio description (AD) service. The debates

were also broadcast live over the Web (including a live transmission of the sign-­‐language

interpreting, but not the audio-­‐description service). The aim of this presentation is to analyse the

solutions chosen by audio describers for the Warsaw 2030 cycle and to assess whether debates and

conferences are suitable for live audio-­‐description service. Given the range of techniques used by the

audio describers, the descriptions they offered seem a cross between simultaneous interpreting,

radio broadcast and a guided tour of the event. The other purpose of this presentation is to discuss

the future of live AD in Warsaw. Is live audio description becoming a new accessibility standard for

main public events in the capital of Poland? Could it be incorporated into university curricula as a

new form of simultaneous interpreting? Is it possible to encourage a significant number of blind and

visually impaired spectators to participate in such events? Live AD in Warsaw, and in a few other

cities in Poland, appears to be on the brink of rapid development. Events such as football matches,

concerts and conferences are increasingly audio described. To become a professional activity, live AD

seems to require regular support on the part of local officials, a university programme for future

audio describers and greater awareness among the blind spectators. At the moment, everything is


Natalia Kiser is a graduate of State Theatre School in Wroclaw, has an M.A. from the Puppetry

Department (2009) and is a graduate of Applied Linguistics from University of Warsaw (2015), where

she obtained an M.A. in Interpretation. Since October 2015 she is a PhD student at Faculty of Applied

Linguistics at University of Warsaw, where she conducts research on simultaneous audio description

for live events. She has worked in the Baj Puppet Theatre in Warsaw since 2010, where she is an

actress, an audio describer and a voice-­‐talent. She also works as an interpreter and audiovisual

translator, writes audio descriptions for theatre, reads them, and prepares subtitles for theatre

performances, as well as provides live audio description during debates and cultural events. Being

both a practitioner and a scholar, she manages to implement the findings of her research into real

life, and thanks to action research, to improve the service aimed at making culture accessible for

audiences with visual impairment.

Irena Michalewicz holds a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics from the University of Warsaw and a

postgraduate certificate in Audiovisual Translation from the University of Social Sciences and

Humanities in Warsaw. In her MA thesis she analysed possibilities of rendering elements of

perspective (both optical viewpoint and subjective perception of characters) in film audio

description. She is a PhD student at the Faculty of Applied Linguistics, University of Warsaw.


Irena Michalewicz works as a freelance film translator specialising in audio description and subtitles

for the deaf and hard of hearing. Her most recent area of interest as a professional is describing live

events for blind participants, a rather new activity in Poland.

Irena Michalewicz is a member of the AVT Lab, an audiovisual translation research group working at

the Institute of Applied Linguistics, University of Warsaw. Her research focuses on film audio

description aiming at conveying the mood, filmic conventions and types of information specific for

different movie genres. She is also interested in respeaking and in audio description for live events,

hoping for their rapid development in Poland.


Thank You For The Music – Live Audio Describing Buitenbeenpop Music


Susanne Verberk, Nevero, Susanne@nevero.be

In the Belgian music festival landscape, the Buitenbeenpop festival is unique in the sense that it is

one of the only (or perhaps even the only) festival that is fully accessible to people with a disability.

In this presentation, I will provide an overview of the different forms of accessibility that are

implemented at the festival (e.g., sign-­‐language interpreting, vibrating floors, viewing platforms for

wheelchair users) while focusing on my own experiences as an audio describer for this event.

Furthermore, I will point out what makes audio describing a music festival so special. In doing so, I

will provide some practical examples of the added value of audio description (AD) for this specific

event. In addition, I will include tips for both organisers and aspiring audio describers on how to deal

with this form of live AD successfully.

Susanne Verberk MA, has been working in the (audiovisual) translation industry since 1998. She

founded her own company, called Nevero, in 2007. Nevero is a language business that concentrates

mainly on audiovisual translation and media accessibility (translation, subtitling and live and pre-­recorded

audio description). We work with a group of freelancers and translate, subtitle and describe

mainly in and out of Dutch, French and English. For more information: http://www.nevero.be/.


Pre-­‐recorded AD for live events

Mereijn Van der Heijden, Soundfocus, mereijn@soundfocus.nl

Currently Soundfocus is developing a system that delivers pre-­‐recorded audio description for live

events. To make live events accessible for blind and partially sighted people, the audio description is

often narrated by an audio describer who is present at the event. The use of pre-­‐recorded audio

description for live events offers a number of advantages. Especially when the event is repeated

several times, like a theatre play. Biggest challenge is proper synchronization between the event and

the audio description because the timing is never exactly the same. By generating an adaptive time

line on which the pre-­‐recorded audio description can be played, it becomes possible to play back the

descriptions automatically and in synchrony during a live event.

Mereijn van der Heijden, MA, is owner of Soundfocus, an audio-­‐postproduction studio specialised in

accessible media. His company is involved with all the major audio description projects in the

Netherlands. He started researching film accessibility for the blind and partially sighted during his MA

studies in Music Technology (HKU) and his studies in Sound Design (MMus, Bournemouth

University). Mereijn is involved in several international projects dealing with accessible digital media

and he collaborates with institutes and organisations for the blind and partially sighted in the

Netherlands and abroad. Because of his background as a sound designer, the improvement of sound-­quality

is always an important factor in both production and research.



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