Although we’ve already spoken about subtitling and audiovisual translation in previous posts, here we’re going to concentrate on audiovisual accessibility and subtitling for deaf people, and why it’s important to turn to professionals, like our team here at Tatutrad.

Have you ever considered how important accessibility is in cinema, television and, in short, the audiovisual world? If you’ve thought about translating your subtitles into another language, why not adapt the audiovisual content to make it accessible? By doing so, you’ll reach a wider audience, just as you do with translation. You can count on us!

There are two main ways to make an audiovisual translation accessible. The first is audio description: this involves describing the scenes that appear on screen in words so that someone with a visual impairment can fully enjoy the audiovisual content. Today, however, we’re not going to focus on audio description, but on subtitling for people with a hearing impairment, such as hypoacusis.

Subtitles for the deaf are fundamental for ensuring the accessibility of all kinds of audiovisual content: there’s subtitling for the deaf in video games, films, series, television, video courses, documentaries, etc. Basically, any type of content you can imagine!

If you need to translate your audiovisual content for the deaf, you’ll need the services of professional translators like us, no doubt about it. This is because there are many aspects that perhaps amateur is unaware of that must be taken into account.

Subtitling for deaf people is more complex than it seems and does not simply involve transcribing the voices. We’re now going to explain some factors that must be considered for high-quality subtitles for the deaf, summarised in four points.

  1. Ideally, accessible subtitles should be bigger than conventional subtitles. That said, the font is often too small, particularly in subtitles for the deaf in video games.

The image shown here is a prime example, as you can barely make out what the character is saying. In such instances, increasing the font size so that users can easily enjoy all the content is crucial.

  1. Subtitles for people with hearing impairments should also be shorter than conventional subtitles, as their understanding of the film, series, etc. depends on their reading speed. 

If we look back at the previous image, we can see that the lines are very long and that too much text appears on screen. The subtitles don’t need to include exactly the same words that we hear, the most important thing is to transmit the message!

  • Another aspect that stands out is the colour of the subtitles. If you’ve ever paid attention to closed captions for the deaf, you’ll have seen that they usually appear on a black background to facilitate reading.

In subtitles for the deaf on television, it’s also common to write the words spoken by different characters in different colours (white, yellow, blue, etc.). By doing so, it’s easy for the viewer to make out who is speaking.

Other ways of distinguishing who is speaking include placing the speech below the person talking.

  • Perhaps what stands out most about subtitles for the deaf are the descriptions of the sounds that usually appear in brackets. These descriptions can be very diverse and may indicate how a character says something or describe sounds such as applause, music, bangs, etc. In conventional translated subtitles, these clarifications are unnecessary.

The description in the image shows that the characters’ laughter isn’t real, but fake. Such comments are important as they allow the viewers to understand nuances such as irony through reading the subtitles.

As we’ve seen, there are a lot of differences between conventional subtitles and subtitles for the deaf. To summarise, it’s important that the texts are short and easily readable, that they allow the viewer to make out when each character is speaking, and that they include explanations about the tone of voice or other sounds.

When a specific audiovisual content (series, films, etc.) is going to be released, it’s important to remember that these subtitles are necessary to ensure that the content is accessible to people with a hearing impairment. After all, we mustn’t forget that they’re also members of the audience.

If you need subtitles for the deaf, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via the contact form on our website. Our team of professional translators are trained and experienced in this field and will be delighted to help you.