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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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Final thoughts: Viewing speed in subtitling

← 334 | 335 →Chapter 13


Abstract: This chapter deals with the idea of speed in subtitling. After a brief discussion about the technical and economic implications of providing edited vs. verbatim subtitles, a distinction is made between reading and subtitling speed. This is followed by the introduction of viewing speed as a new concept to account for the audiovisual nature of subtitled programmes. Viewing speed is regarded as the speed at which a given viewer watches a piece of audiovisual material, which in the case of subtitling includes accessing the subtitle, the accompanying images and the sound, if available. This is supported here by the analysis of the 71,070 subtitles watched by the 103 hearing, hard-of-hearing and deaf viewers who took part in the second part of the DTV4ALL project, which yields new data on how much time is devoted to looking at images vs subtitles depending on the speed of the subtitles. Although this chapter only presents preliminary findings, recent studies conducted in Italy, Poland, South Africa and the US under different conditions and with different types of subtitles and users have so far corroborated the results obtained here.

Keywords: eye tracking, fixations, reading speed, subtitling speed, viewing speed

Among the most commonly debated topics of discussion in the subtitling literature, speed has always occupied a privileged position. This may be explained by the fact that it is the speed of subtitles that determines whether they can be verbatim or edited. As has been shown in this volume, this...

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