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New film release made accessible by Roehampton academic and research students

A new film about blindness that aims to improve the cinematic experience of blind and deaf audiences has been made accessible by a Roehampton academic and two research students.

Posted: 1 July 2016

image for news story New film release made accessible by Roehampton academic and research students
Dr Pablo Romero-Fresco, Reader in Translation and Filmmaking at the University of Roehampton
Notes on Blindness is an award-winning documentary about blindness that has received 5-star reviews from The Guardian and other newspapers and will be on general release in cinemas throughout the UK from 1st July.

Dr Pablo Romero-Fresco, Reader in Translation and Filmmaking at the University of Roehampton, along with two of his PhD students, Zoe Moores and Kate Dangerfield, has worked with the directors of Notes on Blindness from the start of the filmmaking process to create different types of subtitles for the film’s deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences.

The two different subtitle options are:
• The standard version, which attempts to convey in the subtitles both the dialogue and the nuances of the soundtrack for an audience with hearing loss.
• An alternative set of creative subtitles that are integrated in the image and that contribute to the visual identity of the film through the use of specific positioning, colour and effects.

Zoe Moores and Kate Dangerfield carried out the translation for the standard version, which will be used in UK cinemas when the film is released on Friday 1st July. Dr Romero-Fresco and Wendy Fox produced the set of creative subtitles, which will be used across on-demand services and in the official international release in cinemas.

Dr Romero-Fresco said: “In most cases films are not translated into different languages or made accessible for blind and deaf audiences until after the film has been completed, which can have a negative impact on the quality and reception of the film. What we, in collaboration with filmmakers, aim to do is to integrate audio visual translation and accessibility as part of the filmmaking process from the very beginning.

“The integration of accessibility and audiovisual translation as part of the filmmaking process helps to ensure that the filmmakers’ visions are not altered when their films reach foreign audiences and viewers with hearing and visual loss. This approach is embedded into our teaching, where students not only learn how to make films but also how to translate them and make them accessible to viewers with hearing and visual loss.”

Dr Romero-Fresco took part in an advanced screening of the film this week at the East End Film Festival, where, along with the filmmakers Pete Middleton and James Spinney, he discussed how this new approach to accessibility has been implemented in practice.

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