Beyond accessibility for disability. Senior citizens go to the movies
Conference name
9th International conference Media for all
Most studies on audiovisual translation and media accessibility have focused on young or adult audiences, who naturally interact with modern technologies to a large extent in their everyday lives. But how do senior members of society find themselves in today’s media-savvy world? In this study, we look into how we can harness media accessibility tools for the elderly: we test audio subtitling (AST) in the cinema for senior citizens using the AudioMovie app as an example.

In recent years, smartphones have become a more affordable tool for senior citizens to access the digital world. This trend is also visible in Poland, where 35% of people aged over 50 reported being smartphone-users in 2018, as opposed to 13% in 2015 (Silver, 2019). In spite of financial and technical obstacles, senior citizens do not oppose learning new technologies per se; studies suggest that they usually adopt a positive attitude towards technology and are ready to use it once they perceive it as useful in their everyday lives (González, Paz Ramírez & Viadel, 2012; Guner & Acarturk, 2018).

Senior citizens in Poland demonstrate a strong preference for voice-over or dubbing over subtitles (Jankowska, 2019). Polish cinemas, in turn, offer subtitles for a significant number of foreign theatrical releases. A study carried out with the AudioMovie project confirmed that senior citizens are willing to use an application to watch films with audio subtitles in the cinemas (Jankowska, 2019). However, it remains to be confirmed if they will be able to deal with the technology once they actually start using it.

In our paper we will discuss the results of a study carried out to test the usability of the AudioMovie app among senior citizens in a real-life scenario. Tests were carried out in Kraków (2018) and Warsaw (2020). Together, we have tested 22 people aged 60-80 years old. The study followed a mixed-method approach, combining quantitative (survey) and qualitative (focus group) research. Results show that while senior citizens would like to go to the cinemas more often, they are not always capable of following fast-paced subtitles. That is why the majority of senior citizens who participated in the study identified dubbing and voice-over as their preferred modes of AVT and welcomed AST with great enthusiasm. Although senior citizens are not always proficient users of smartphones and new technologies, the overall reception of the AudioMovie app was positive and the application seems to be useful for the tested group (people aged 60 and over). The majority of respondents found the application easy to use and would like to use the application in the cinema to see films with AST. However, the participants who use hearing aids stated that they benefit from subtitling as well. It shows that senior citizens constitute a heterogeneous group, and they have different needs concerning AVT that need to be catered for. The participants also underlined their need for clear, step-by-step instructions, either in the form of a guide, or on the part of other people, such as members of their family, cinema staff or instructors from technology courses. However, even though some senior citizens required a great deal of assistance, they believed that eventually they would be able to learn how to navigate the application. All in all, it is reasonable to assume that AudioMovie will appeal to a large group of senior citizens who are interested in watching films, either with AST alone or a combination of AST and subtitling.
Submitted by Estibaliz Cabañes on Tue, 13/06/2023 - 14:25