Internet, audiovisual media and digital technology are transforming our world. However, their potential will not be realised until they become fully accessible and enable the participation of all citizens in everyday life.
Audiovisual translation and media accessibility have become drivers of social inclusion and integration and have lately received full recognition in the literature and in EU-funded projects. In the area of subtitling for viewers with hearing loss, a key priority for the users is to access live content such as news and public events. Live subtitling through speech recognition, known as respeaking, has consolidated as the preferred method to provide live subtitles around the world. Respeakers listen to the soundtrack of a programme and simultaneously repeat/rephrase what they hear to a speech recognition software that turns these utterances into intralingual subtitles.
Now, a new challenge has emerged, as migration streams and the increased multilingual composition of societies worldwide have led to a growing demand for accessibility to live audiovisual content and events in a foreign language. Therefore, it is crucial to find professionals who can produce interlingual live subtitles (ILS) through respeaking, a new discipline that will require translating, subtitling and simultaneous interpreting skills.
Thus, ILSA adopts a wider view to accessibility, as the new ILS provision will benefit a wider target group, not only vulnerable audiences (deaf and hard of hearing viewers, physically/mentally challenged groups, people with special needs and learning disabilities), but also foreign audiences: migrants, refugees and marginalised groups at risk of exclusion will particularly benefit from the potential offered by interlingual subtitles to facilitate their integration in the cultural environment of their new homeland.
The aim of ILSA is to design, develop, test and recognise the first training course for interlingual live subtitlers and to produce a protocol for the implementation of this service in three real-life scenarios: TV, the classroom and the Parliament. The curriculum and training materials will be flexible so that they can be integrated in different learning environments, not only for higher education translation students, but also for professionals already working in translation and accessibility.
This is a critical moment for media accessibility. Given the growing demand for access to live content in a foreign language, interlingual live subtitling will be produced sooner or later. What is at stake here is the quality of the product. Only through a research-informed comprehensive training programme such as the one proposed here by ILSA will it be possible to ensure that this new service meets the required standards regarding the product and the working conditions of the professionals involved. This is an essential step to guarantee a truly wider access that can include and integrate both deaf and foreign audiences in the audiovisual, educational, political and social life of the countries in which they are living.