Utopian Voices Ltd
Media accessibility consultancy
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Audio Description: A Cuckoo in the Nest of Translation Studies?

On Friday 15 March, Louise speaks at City University of Hong Kong, for the Department of Linguistics and Translation Research Forum.

Most modes of Audiovisual Translation (AVT) are interlingual, translating the foreign source language (SL) into a different language for subtitles, dubbing or voiceover. However, access modes of AVT - including subtitling for the D/deaf and hard of hearing (SDH), signing, and Audio Description (AD) - are intermodal, providing access to audiovisual content for people with sensory disabilities. For this reason, they are accepted modes of Media Accessibility (MA).

Romero-Fresco (2019) talks of the need for MA to have a house of its own, rather than simply a room in the house of Translation Studies (TS). Yet it is still far from certain whether AD should have a room in the house of TS at all.

Gambler (2009) suggests intermodal translation should be thought of as adaptation, manipulation, transfer or remake. Traditionally translation seeks to alter the ST as little as possible, but by taking an objective approach AD becomes bland or boring. Blind people prefer an immersive experience. Clearly there are many overlaps between concerns of describers and those of translators. Is AD a translation? Or is it a cuckoo in the nest?

Tom Lock