Publication Title
Erasure or over-exposure? Finding the balance in describing diversity
Publication Type
Journal article
The Journal of Specialised Translation
Year of publication


The shift in media access solutions from reactive to proactive approaches identified by Greco (2016) can be seen in the Audio Description (AD) of human characteristics. Drawing on research in psychology and disability studies, this article suggests that one of the affordances of vision is to recognise difference and that the ability to distinguish one performer or character from another is crucial to engagement with the source material. The challenge for the describer is that the description of these distinctions tends to rely on socially sensitive markers such as race, age, body-shape, gender and disability. An analysis of Audio Introductions (AIs) for the Describing Diversity Report (Hutchinson et al. 2020) shows that descriptions currently fall short both in describing personal characteristics equitably between different social groups, and by failing to use language that is inclusive and non-judgemental. This can result either in over-exposure of difference, leading to possible stigma of individual performers, or in the erasure of differences, leading to an inaccurate conception of increasing diversity on stage. To navigate this tightrope,
describers need extraordinary intercultural competence. Alternative solutions are proposed that shift responsibility from describer-generated content to content generated by the performers, taking a proactive, inclusive approach.
Submitted by Adriana Carrer… on Tue, 31/01/2023 - 11:37