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Thursday, 14 March 2024 15:54

Special Issue of 'The Interpreter and Translator Trainer': Recent advances in media accessibility education

Editors: Sharon Black and Emília Perez

Recent advances in media accessibility education

In recent times media accessibility (MA) has been gaining ground internationally, and is now a necessary requirement and a “proactive principle” (Greco 2016, 21) for the fulfilment of the human right of all citizens to have full and equal access to and enjoyment of audiovisual products. This requirement is covered by international and European legislation. Films, TV programmes, live events and museums are being made more accessible to audiences, and a variety of accessibility services are increasingly being offered, which include but are by no means limited to audio description, live subtitling, intralingual theatre captions, sign language interpreting, audio guides, easy read materials, touch tours and tactile exhibitions. Moreover, accessibility services are being accessed using a range of different devices, screens and technologies. There has been a concomitant development of professional roles in the field, including those of the audio describer, live subtitler and accessibility manager, and the demand for trained professionals in these areas will no doubt continue to grow into the future.

However, just as much remains to be done to make the media, arts and culture accessible to all, continued efforts are needed to fill the existing gaps in MA education and research in this area. A growing number of university programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels now offer modules focusing on MA, and master’s degrees in accessibility have been launched, but progress is slow and universities seem to have “a lower commitment to MA training” (Valdez et al. 2023) as they still largely only offer MA training within broader AVT modules and courses. Moreover, training for end users of MA services and tools is lacking, which contributes to the digital exclusion experienced by deaf, disabled and neurodivergent users. Considerable advances have been made towards filling these gaps by European projects over the last decade, such as ACT, ADLAB PRO, ILSA, DA4YOU, EASIT and ATHENA, to name but a few. While such projects have made valuable progress in terms of providing training courses, materials and profiles defining the skills and competences of media access professionals, more work is needed to better understand how these skills and competences can be learned and developed.

Greater scholarly attention has been paid thus far to training in AD and live SDH through respeaking than to other modes of MA, such as the emerging topic of Easy Read content, and research on the didactics of MA is scant and fragmented, and typically addresses one accessibility service only. Moreover, scholars have highlighted a notable paucity of studies investigating topics such as assessment, and creativity in MA training. They also highlight issues such as the need for a more global scope beyond Eurocentric perspectives to bring more diversity to MA research, to include end users as collaborative partners, for more effective use of multimedia as teaching materials and of cutting-edge technologies in translator training.

For this special issue, we especially welcome studies focusing on the aforementioned issues, as well as on other new developments in media accessibility training practices, pedagogical principles and methodologies, as well as challenges and lessons learned. We also welcome proposals from outside of the field of Translation and Interpreting Studies, studies that adopt user-centred, participatory approaches, and research that aims to have a social impact on communities. The topics suggested below may apply to various training scenarios (e.g., higher education, training outside academia, training for content creators, live event organisers, etc.).

Themes that may be addressed include (but are not restricted to) the following:

  • current practices in translator and interpreter training for media accessibility (training methodologies, technological advancements, training platforms)
  • cross-disciplinary collaboration in media accessibility training, and partnerships with non-academic organisations
  • user centred approaches and participatory media accessibility training and research,
  • inclusive learning environments and methods in media accessibility contexts,
  • quality and evaluation in media accessibility training,
  • training the media accessibility trainers (profiles, requirements and continuous learning).

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 15 July 2024

For more information, click here.


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