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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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Eye tracking as a method to study reading and subtitling: The DTV4ALL Project

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Abstract: Eye tracking is a valuable method for observing and measuring the eye movements of people watching and reading subtitles. When viewing a subtitled programme, reading is not done in isolation but occurs simultaneously to watching the visuals on-screen and listening to the information conveyed in the audio. There are therefore multiple sources of information, and monitoring someone’s eye movements enables us to gain insights into how well a person “participates” in a subtitled programme (De Linde and Kay 1999, 18). In the case of subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH), the fact that the viewer has little or no access to the audio track makes it even more important to know how the subtitles are perceived. This chapter gives an overview of key concepts in eye-tracking research and subtitle reading by providing relevant definitions, identifying variables in texts that influence eye movements and by highlighting the differences between normal (i.e. static text) and subtitle (dynamic text) reading that need to be taken into consideration when studying eye movements during subtitle reading.

Keywords: attention allocation, eye tracking, fixation, perception, processing, subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH)

In general, tracking eye movements is one of the best methods to study language comprehension processes (Pollatsek and Rayner 2006, 613). It provides insight into the inner workings of the mind by simply observing the eye, its movements and the finer characteristics thereof. This method becomes even more significant when applied to the field...

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