The issue of accessibility: linguistic reduction and simplification of subtitles for deaf children



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Ferrández Melero, Layla (2013) The issue of accessibility: linguistic reduction and simplification of subtitles for deaf children. [Trabajo Fin de Máster]

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The film industry has evolved tremendously in recent years and nowadays everyone can have access to audiovisual products. The arrival of digital television made possible a greater accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing thanks to the inclusion of subtitles in many programmes from many channels. Nevertheless, in spite of this evolution, there is still something that is eluded: in general, the subtitles usually do not correspond to the needs of each and every type of audience. The audience concerned in this research is profoundly deaf children and the object of study is subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing (SDH).
My hypothesis is that, taking into account the problems faced by deaf children during childhood when learning to read, subtitles in children’s films can be reduced and simplified in terms of grammar and complexity of sentences and words, with little change of the overall meaning of utterances. The objective of this paper is to try to simplify subtitles as much and accurately as possible so that profoundly deaf children would find subtitles easier to read, the film easier to watch, the plot easier to follow, and it would be a good method to improve their reading
skills with entertaining materials.
Traditionally, subtitling for the deaf have not been considered a completely translational process but we have to take into account that those subtitles are for people who have another mode of communication and, therefore, subtitles must convey the meaning of what is being said and fulfill a communicative aim. For the purpose of this study, translation will be seen as a branch of applied linguistics since the aim is to reduce and simplify sentences which might be difficult to process for deaf children rather than to translate from one language to another.
Something that is not taken into consideration when making SDH is the heterogeneity of the deaf community. And especially when it comes to children, the process of learning to read is quite different from that of their hearing peers. Therefore subtitles should be written according to certain linguistic features and their cognitive processes. Nevertheless, the simplification of subtitles does not imply the idea of deaf children as virtually unable readers but as people who have an auditory deficiency that involves problems in the reading learning process. Besides, the reduction and simplification of subtitles does not mean either to slow down the learning process since deaf children do not get standard levels of literacy until adolescence or adulthood.
In many countries, deaf children do not have access to especial schools for the deaf, which forces them to learn as a hearing peer. This is one of the reasons why deaf children encounter more difficulties when learning to read. An impairment such as deafness should not be an obstacle to learning and entertainment. The reduction and simplification of subtitles could be used as a method to motivate deaf children to learn to read and as a method to improve their
reading skills.
With regards to the structure, this research is divided into three main blocks: the theoretical background, the methodology followed and the analysis of data.
The first block consists of an approach to three main areas of study: Audiovisual Translation and Subtitling, Psychology, and Linguistics. There is a review of the audiovisual medium (De Linde and Kay, 1999, Karamitroglou, 2000) and its constraints, as well as an account for some
concepts which are essential for the purpose of this research, such as Toury's notion of norms (1995), Nida and Taber's dynamic equivalence (1969), Williams and Sperber's Theory of Relevance (1986/1995) and transfer of language. A classification of subtitles is given (Díaz Cintas and Remael, 2007; Neves, 2005) and the conventions of subtitling for deaf audiences, in particular deaf children, are presented. Then, an explanation of the problems faced by deaf learners is given, in which issues such as cognitive processes, mode of communication and decoding strategies used by deaf people are dealt with. For this section, research conducted on the matter was revised, such as that of Herrera (2009), De Linde and Kay (1999) and Peterson and
Siegal (1999). Finally, some linguistic concepts are considered in relation to the objective of this
research, such as cohesion and language style (Halliday, 1985, 2004).
The second block provides an explanation of the methodology followed and the elaboration of two corpora, which give way to quantitative and qualitative analyses, and to the posterior reduction and simplification of part of the subtitles of two films for children, Aladdin and Up.
The third block consists of the analysis of the data gathered through the elaboration of two corpora. The focus was put on the process of transadaptation that was carried out by reducing and simplifying the version of SDH offered in two Disney films. Due to the length of the analyses,
part of them were added to the Appendix section (page 81). Then, the results of the analyses are presented and discussed, allowing to draw some conclusions. The SDH offered in audiovisual products is inappropriate in terms of number of words per minute and time rates subtitles remain on screen. A linguistic reduction and simplification of subtitles for deaf children is necessary so that accessibility is granted. In the conclusions, a proposal for the improvement of subtitling for the deaf and hard-of-hearing is provided, as well as a prospectus for further research.

Item Type:Trabajo Fin de Máster
Rica Peromingo, Juan Pedro
Uncontrolled Keywords:Audiovisual Translation, Subtitling, Deaf children, Hard-of-hearing people
Subjects:Humanities > Philology > Translating and interpreting
Humanities > Philology > English philology
Humanities > Education > Multicultural education
Humanities > Philology > Linguistics
ID Code:23265
Deposited On:21 Oct 2013 08:42
Last Modified:07 Feb 2014 10:59

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