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Author:Marcella Cuboni
April 20, 2012, 1:29 p.m.


From spoken to written thanks to respeaking.

Presentazione del progetto sperimentale “Oltresuoni” su webradio a favore di non udenti

Presentation of the experimental project “OltreSuoni” on web-radio for the deaf



Project “OltreSuoni” presented this morning at the Town Hall in Cagliari by the International Association on Respeaking onA.I.R. and by the Association TDM 2000. This experimental project, sponsored by the National Deaf Association - Provincial Section of Cagliari, will apply the simultaneous subtitling technique called respeaking to an online radio station.

As illustrated by the President of TDM 2000, Luca Frongia, this initiative meets the practical need of making radio content accessible also to the 10% of the population who cannot completely grasp the contents of a radio program and cannot have direct access to information due to hearing impairments or to a limited knowledge of the Italian language.

“The respeaking technique, adds Francesca Marchionne, President of the International Association on Respeaking, enables the production of real-time subtitles: an operator listens to the source text while repeating it to a speech recognition software which processes it transforming it into a written text which can be either visualized as continuous text or as subtitles.”

A practical demonstration of this technique is offered by the main expert in this field in Italy, Professor Carlo Eugeni, who chose to prove the significance of this initiative through respeaking itself: “This technology is not perfect, but it makes communication available to these persons, too. The potential is endless: not only radio, but telephone conversations, TV programs, meetings, university lectures could be subtitled and thus be readily available.”

Someone who could hardly have missed this meeting is the inventor of the respeaking technique, Mr. Pirelli, who is also a supporter of the project Voice, which contributed to researching, developing and spreading aids to break down the communication barriers the deaf have to deal with on a daily basis: “Ten years ago we started using subtitles and getting European TV stations involved, thus initiating an important awareness process which was fundamental in carrying on the project Voice. Now I see in these young and competent professionals that same passion and the will to tackle an important social theme.”

The trial will last six months and will involve 20 persons of different age and social background, evenly chosen under people of normal hearing, people with hearing impairments and people with a limited knowledge of the Italian language; they will follow specific programs broadcasted in traditional mode and with subtitles by “RadioXCaso”, the web-radio of the Association TDM 2000.

The trial subjects will then answer questions aimed at assessing their understanding of the broadcasted contents and will share their opinions and perspectives on dedicated online forums; at the end of the trial this corpus of data will be analysed by linguists, sociologists and psychologists to assess the results achieved.

Whoever should be interested in taking part in the experiment, which will start around mid-May, can get in touch with the International Association on Respeaking onA.I.R. or with the Association TDM 2000.

“Our goal – added the vice-president of TDM 2000, Michele Demontis – is to turn this pilot project into a habit for all radio stations, so as to actually reduce the gap between the deaf and the non-deaf when it comes to accessing information.”

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Translation by Cristina Tabbia

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