Accessible filmmaking and sign language (interpreting). From standardization to creativity
Conference name
9th International conference Media for all
It is widely acknowledged that there are, mainly, two ways of making audiovisual products accessible for people with hearing impairment, namely, subtitles for the D/deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH) and sign language interpreting (SLI). This presentation will address the concepts of accessible filmmaking (AFM) and creativity applied to the SL(I) of pre-recorded and live audiovisual products (such as films, music and theatre, for example).

Creativity in the SL(I) of an audiovisual product can be incorporated at a non-linguistic level, both in postproduction and earlier phases, but it can also be included in sign language itself, in the same way that it can be incorporated into any oral language. In some cases, SL(I) is even part of the performance from the beginning, not as a postproduction element, but as a central part of the performance which is thought of and incorporated from the outset. With this approach, signers and interpreters are no longer external agents but part of the cast and crew.

Creativity in SL(I) can turn this accessibility mode, which is primarily aimed at Deaf communities, into an artistic visual element for hearing people and non-signers. This is not yet an extended practice in filmmaking, where the vast majority of SLI is incorporated after postproduction in a standardised way and where SL as a language, not as an accessibility mode, is still scarcely represented. Nevertheless, some creative practices are slowly gaining a foothold in the industry.

This presentation will address current creative practices in the SL(I) of audiovisual products in different stages and those that have been implemented both within the language itself or externally. By looking into examples taken from different art expressions, this contribution will present three levels in which such creativity can be implemented. Firstly, it can be implemented as external creativity, with the use of different special effects, editing processes, or visual aspects of the signer. Secondly, it can be implemented as interactional creativity, making use of signing consultants, incorporating signers in the performances, carrying out a casting of signers or allowing signers access to the creative view of the product. Thirdly, creativity can be implemented in the language or in the interpreting itself, with creative use of phonemes and non-manual markers, as well as with the use other visual representations that can come from SLs (classifiers, neologisms…) or from other art expressions (visual vernacular or signdance, for example).

Current examples will allow reflection on how the artistic and creative possibilities of this form of communication can be beneficial to signers and non-signers, the Deaf and hearing, in order to create more inclusive products. Our perception of accessibility can be enriched through the implementation of some of these creative practices. Moreover, they offer us a great opportunity to expand our understanding and make new and meaningful connections between different art expressions, human communication and inclusion. The reflections that might arise from this presentation can also challenge the hegemonic representations of cultures, languages and communication modalities and might present an opening for further analysis in Accessibility Studies.
Submitted by Estibaliz Cabañes on Thu, 01/06/2023 - 14:10