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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 in Germany

← 312 | 313 →Chapter 12


focuses on emotions, sounds and subtitling speed in German SDH. In total, 21 participants (7 hearing, 7 hard-of-hearing and 7 deaf participants) took part in the tests. They were shown three short video clips for each parameter and filled in questionnaires about their understanding as well as their preferences before and after the tests. In the eye-tracking tests, mean reading times and times to first fixation were measured.

The study confirmed the assumption that viewers with hearing loss prefer the type of presentation they are used to, i.e. descriptions of emotions and sounds, and that they stick to their demand for verbatim subtitles. As to the presentation of sound information, eye-tracking data and comprehension scores seem to support viewers’ preferences, whereas regarding the presentation of information on emotions the videos with emoticons returned better comprehension scores and lower mean reading times than those with descriptions. As for verbatim subtitles, the high amount of text led to long mean reading times, thus leaving little time to actually watch the subtitles.

Keywords: DTV4ALL, eye tracking, mean reading time, reading patterns, subtitling styles, time to first fixation

This chapter includes the results of the eye-tracking test conducted in Germany as part of the DTV4ALL project. Although the study followed the design set up for the other countries, it was carried out as part of a diploma thesis and thus had a more limited scope, focusing on three parameters: emotions, sound and speed/subtitling style.

The tests...

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