In support of a wide notion of media accessibility: Access to content and access to creation

Keywords: media accessibility, access to content, access to creation, accessible filmmaking, interlingual respeaking, non-cinema, disability art, disability in the arts, accessibility studies

Abstract

The prevailing narrow consideration of media accessibility (MA) as concerning only persons with sensory disabilities poses a series of epistemological and terminological issues, and limits the potential of MA to instigate social change. This article supports a wider view of MA that encompasses both people with and without disabilities who need access to audiovisual content. To articulate this wide notion of MA, a distinction is made between access to content and access to creation (Dangerfield, 2017), and examples are drawn from two emerging disciplines: interlingual respeaking and accessible filmmaking (AFM). As far as access to content is concerned, interlingual respeaking can contribute to making MA more visible, forcing hearing audiences to share the same need for access as audiences with hearing loss. As for AFM, by proposing the integration of translation and accessibility as part of the filmmaking process, it provides a platform for deaf, blind and foreign audiences, as well as other groups, to join forces and increase their visibility within the film industry. However, a wide notion of MA must also include access to creation, that is, access to equipment, funding and job opportunities that can enable persons with sensory disabilities to create audiovisual products which, it is argued, can provide a more inclusive and empathetic audiovisual experience than the current model of MA.

Author Biography

Pablo Romero-Fresco, Universidade de Vigo, Spain / University of Roehampton, London

Ramón y Cajal grant holder at Universidade de Vigo (Spain) and Honorary Professor of Translation and Filmmaking at the University of Roehampton (London, UK). He is the editor of The Reception of Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Europe (2015, Peter Lang) and the author of the books Subtitling through Speech Recognition: Respeaking (2012, Routledge) and Accessible Filmmaking: Integrating translation and accessibility into the filmmaking process (forthcoming, Routledge). His Accessible Filmmaking Guide, written with Louise Fryer, is currently being used by governments, film schools and filmmakers in several countries and he has collaborated with governments, universities, companies and user associations around the world to introduce and improve access to live events for people with hearing loss. He is the leader of the international research group GALMA (Galician Observatory for Media Access), for which he is currently coordinating several international projects on media accessibility and accessible filmmaking, including “ILSA: Interlingual Live Subtitling for Access”, funded by the EU Commission. Pablo is also a filmmaker. His first documentary, Joining the Dots (2012), was used by Netflix as well as schools around Europe to raise awareness about audio description.

Published
2018-11-14