“Accessible Filmmaking and Creative Media Accessibility”
The talk is going to take place next Tuesday, March 9th, 2-3 pm (CET), in the Centre for Visual Cultures of Royal Holloway, University of London. For the Teams link for attending the meeting, as well as the details of the talk, please see below.
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Summary of Talk
Despite their importance in the reception and distribution of films, translation and accessibility have traditionally been neglected in the film industry. They are regarded as an afterthought, which results in translators being isolated from the creative team and working in conditions that hamper their attempts to maintain the filmmaker’s original vision. Accessible filmmaking (Romero-Fresco, 2019) offers a potential solution to this problem by considering translation and accessibility in the production process through the collaboration between the creative team and the translator. Originated in 2013 and now applied by both independent filmmakers and mainstream on-demand platforms such as Netflix, accessible filmmaking has led to a reconsideration of how translation and accessibility can be approached in film. Until recently, media accessibility had placed the focus on comprehension: the aim was to provide visually or hearing-impaired audiences with the necessary information to make up for their impairment. Following the cognitive and scientific turn experienced by audiovisual translation and media accessibility over the past decade (Chaume, 2018), most media accessibility guidelines are now based on empirical research, often based on eye-tracking technology. In this approach, media access experts are considered as technicians tasked with applying such guidelines. In other words, science often underpins how films are made accessible, but the artistic side of media accessibility remains unexplored.
Instead of focusing on comprehension and the users’ impairment, the new approach to media accessibility deriving from accessible filmmaking is concerned with facilitating the viewers’ engagement with the film by making use of their abilities. Although empirically-based guidelines on media accessibility are still used as a starting point, media access experts are not here technicians but artistic contributors to the creative process of filmmaking. Thus, this new approach to media accessibility encouraged by accessible filmmaking brings together science and art in order to ensure that all viewers, regardless of their (dis)abilities, have access to the filmmakers’ vision. After an introduction on accessible filmmaking and an analysis of the new engagement-based approach to media accessibility, this talk will present several examples of films where this approach has led to the consideration of the different accessible versions as artistic products in their own right and, to a large extent, as original versions.