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The Reception of Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Europe

UK, Spain, Italy, Poland, Denmark, France and Germany

Edited By Pablo Romero-Fresco

This is the first volume to deal specifically with the quality of subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH) in Europe, with contributions from the UK, Spain, Italy, Poland, Denmark, France and Germany. Drawing on the results of the EU-funded project DTV4ALL, the book looks at the issue of quality in the reception of SDH in Europe as a combination of three factors: what viewers think about SDH, how they understand these subtitles and how they view them. The viewers’ preferences have been obtained through questionnaires and their comprehension has been analysed with tests, involving clips with SDH and questions. The viewers’ perception has been measured with eye-tracking technology, involving the analysis of 71,070 subtitles in what is so far the largest international eye-tracking study on subtitling. With this research, we have sought to obtain both subjective (preferences) and objective (comprehension and perception) data that can inform national guidelines on SDH. The book also introduces the notion of viewing speed and points to the existence of certain universals of SDH and subtitling that can contribute to advance our understanding of how different types of viewers from different nationalities view, process and understand subtitles as a means to access audiovisual content.
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Different viewers, different needs: Personal subtitles for Danish TV?

← 16 | 17 →Chapter 1

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Abstract: This chapter looks at the situation in Denmark, a subtitling country since 1929, with subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing since 1980. The empirical basis is the Danish DTV4All questionnaire on viewer reception and attitudes to subtitles. The study analyzes the answers of 141 respondents: 31 deaf, 46 hard-of-hearing and 64 hearing viewers. The unique semiotics of subtitling are discussed, and four basic types are distinguished:

a) bona fide subtitling, with subtitles created directly from the dialogue (foreign or domestic) and cued by the subtitler before transmission,

b) relay subtitling, based on existing pre-cued subtitles,

c) semi-live subtitling, with (TV) subtitles created by the subtitler before transmission and cued during transmission, and

d) live subtitling, when (intralingual) subtitles are created and cued, with a delay, during transmission.

Although viewers of all three groups tend to be quite satisfied with Danish subtitling practices, this study shows that there is room for improvement: Not only do the needs of hearing-impaired viewers differ from those of normally hearing people; the deaf and the hard of hearing have different needs. This suggests at least three subtitling options for any TV production.

In addition to this come the needs of ethnic minorities, a group of viewers underrepresented in this project. Such viewers often avoid watching domestic television in favor of satellite-transmitted foreign TV. Introducing personal subtitling by offering subtitles in major immigrant languages – on top of the three versions suggested...

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