Exploring the gaps in linguistic accessibility of media. The potential of automated subtitling as a solution
The Journal of Specialised Translation
Year of publication
Linguistic accessibility presents a challenge for public broadcasters. While demand for multilingual content to support accessibility is growing, limited resources do not allow translating to a wide range of languages. One possibility to increase linguistic accessibility in media would be to provide automated translations into languages that cannot be served otherwise. However, implementing automation with the objective of supporting linguistic accessibility requires careful, proactive investigation together with the prospective audience. This article explores automated interlingual subtitling from the audience's perspective, based on focus group discussions and an online survey conducted in association with the Finnish public broadcaster Yle. We investigated English-speaking viewers’ reactions to automated English subtitles in Finnish-language news and current affairs video clips. Our analysis indicates that while viewers are able to understand the gist of a programme with automated subtitles, shortcomings in the quality of automated speech recognition, translation and timing of subtitles result in significant cognitive load that limits the usability of the subtitles. Participants expressed clear interest in automated subtitles for breaking news and other important local content, as well as to facilitate access to local culture and entertainment. However, quality improvements are required before automated subtitles can be deployed.