Accessibility as a Conversation

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.47476/jat.v5i2.2022.228

Keywords:

accessibility, conversation, creativity, difference, "for all", inclusion, normativity, subjectivity, universality

Abstract

Film has a long-standing relationship with the notion of universality, which has often been used by Hollywood to perpetuate a dominant and unified worldview and to disseminate certain (Western) values that contribute to establishing what should and should not be considered normal, including the idea of the normative individual. Audiovisual translation and media accessibility could undermine the notion of universality in film; however, media accessibility has somehow reinstated this idea through reference to universal design and the use of the phrase “for all”. This can mask the exclusion of certain users who are not catered for by most mainstream accessibility guidelines.

The first aim of this article is to explore how the notion of universality has been used in media accessibility and how it is reflected in official guidelines and in current practice. The second aim is to introduce the work of an emerging wave of (mostly disabled) artists who are proposing an alternative approach to media accessibility, one that is openly subjective, increasingly creative and that often works as a political tool in a wider fight against discrimination and for real inclusion. These artists consider access as a conversation involving meaningful contributions by disabled and non-disabled people.

Lay summary

The first aim of our article is to explore how the notion of universality has been used in film and especially in media accessibility. We also look at how this idea is reflected in official guidelines and in current practice. We focus on the examples of universal design and the phrase "for all", which are prevalent in the field of media accessibility. This way of thinking typically masks the exclusion of certain users who are not catered for by most mainstream accessibility guidelines.

Media accessibility has the potential to challenge what is considered as "normal" and the second aim of our article is to introduce the work of an emerging wave of (mostly disabled) artists who are proposing an alternative approach to media accessibility. This approach is subjective, creative and often works as a political tool in a wider fight against discrimination and for real inclusion. These artists consider access as a conversation involving meaningful contributions by disabled and non-disabled people.

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Author Biographies

Pablo Romero Fresco, Universidade de Vigo

Pablo Romero Fresco is senior lecturer at Universidade de Vigo (Spain) and Honorary Professor of Translation and Filmmaking at the University of Roehampton (London, UK). He is the author of the books Subtitling through Speech Recognition: Respeaking (Routledge), Accessible Filmmaking: Integrating translation and accessibility into the filmmaking process (Routledge) and Creativity in Media Accessibility (Routledge, forthcoming). He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Audiovisual Translation (JAT) and 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. Pablo is also a filmmaker. His first short documentary, Joining the Dots (2012), was used by Netflix as well as film schools around Europe to raise awareness about audio description. He has just released his first feature-length documentary, Where Memory Ends (2021), which has been selected for the London Spanish Film Festival and the Seminci, in Spain.

Kate Dangerfield

Kate Dangerfieldis an independent researcher and freelance filmmaker and accessibility consultant. Her completed practice as research PhD Within Sound and Image focuses on developing the approach of accessible filmmaking by creating space for the people involved in The Accessible Filmmaking Project (in collaboration with the UK charity Sense, funded by the British Film Institute) who have dual/single sensory impairments and complex communication needs. As an ally, Kate is passionate about challenging the disabling barriers that currently exist within society and her work now focuses on developing the concept of ‘access as a conversation’ in theory and practice. 

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Published

2022-12-21

How to Cite

Romero Fresco, P., & Dangerfield, K. (2022). Accessibility as a Conversation. Journal of Audiovisual Translation, 5(2), 15–34. https://doi.org/10.47476/jat.v5i2.2022.228