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 “OltreSuoni” is an experimental project conceived by the International Association on Respeaking onA.I.R. and by the Association TDM 2000, foreseeing the real-time subtitling via respeaking of a web-radio for the benefit of the deaf and of people who have a limited knowledge of Italian, such as recent immigrants.

 It is well-known that Italy boasts thousands of radio stations transmitting an incalculable amount of contents and information. At present, though, a large part of the Italian society has no access to said contents. It is estimated that the total percentage of people suffering from a hearing impairment and of people whose knowledge of Italian does not allow them to easily understand a radio program amounts to 10% of the total population. In other words, 6 millions of Italian citizens or foreigners living in Italy cannot benefit from fundamental contents such as live broadcasts from institutions, cultural programs, sport commentaries via radio and entertainment programs, just to name a few.

 Their inability to follow these live programs also means that they cannot take part in the real-time debate spreading through social media and telematic media in the wake of said programs.

 This is the reason behind our project: we wish to subtitle a radio station for the benefit of the aforementioned categories suffering from sensorial or language-related difficulties, thus contributing to the detection of solutions which will in time fill the existing communication gap; thanks to a multiplier effect, our project can then be systematically applied to major radio stations, especially the ones offering a public service.

 To this end we want to subtitle the web-radio of the Cagliari University “Unica Radio” using the respeaking technique, which consists in the real-time subtitling of radio content by means of a speech recognition software used by a trained operator. Said technique was developed in the mid-90s, is currently still scarcely used and has never been applied to a radio station.

 The trial period will be of six months and will involve 20 persons of different age and social background, evenly chosen under people of normal hearing and people with hearing impairments or a limited knowledge of the Italian language. The trial subjects shall follow specific programs broadcasted both in traditional mode and with subtitles and shall discuss them by answering questions aimed at assessing their understanding level and by sharing their opinions and perspectives on dedicated online forums.

 These shared opinions and perspectives will build the corpus to be analysed by a team made up of linguists, sociologists and psychologists in order to assess the potential of respeaking in reducing the gap between people of normal hearing and people with hearing impairments when it comes to radio content.


Translation by Cristina Tabbia


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