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From: EFHOH - History of the European Federation of Hard of Hearing People, pag. 28-29


onA.I.R. - International Association on Respeaking - is the natural prosecution of the European Commission JRC VOICE project, which first developed respeaking as a technique to produce live TV subtitles for the Deaf and the Hard-of-Hearing. Their honorary president, Giuliano Pirelli, makes sure that this continuity is guaranteed, by constantly offering his support and expertise as the ideator and coordinator of the VOICE project. onA.I.R. is a non-profit organization which promotes social, educational, cultural, and recreational activities by means of subtitling for the Deaf and the Hard-of-Hearing, through respeaking. Their aim is to reduce the gap between hearing, deaf, hard-of-hearing, and foreign people, by providing a direct access to real-time information through respeaking. To this purpose they organize training courses as well as debates, meetings, seminars, and conferences on respeaking and subtitling for the deaf and the hard-of-hearing. They also produce subtitles, both in real time and prerecorded for both live and prerecorded television programmes, films, theater shows, concerts, and other live events. onA.I.R. also collaborates with other associations and nonprofit organizations to diffuse respeaking as a technique to make it easier for deaf, hard-of-hearing and foreign people to get more involved in the society they also live in. The one they collaborate most, TDM 2000, is a non-profit organization promoting active citizenship, intercultural dialogue and European identity. TDM 2000 realizes several initiatives such as meetings, training courses, seminars and volunteering programs in Sardinia and abroad. Such activities are realized thanks to the most important programs on international mobility, such as “Youth in Action”, “Leonardo da Vinci”, “Erasmus for entrepreneurs” and “Anna Lindh”. In 2008, TDM 2000 formed an International network called TDM 2000 International which now includes 15 Nations. The first project in collaboration with TDM 2000, called OltreSuoni, is a pilot project aiming at an experimental application of respeaking, namely radio live subtitling. In particular, onA.I.R. members subtitle “RadioXCaso”, TDM 2000 web radio, in real time from Italian into Italian. As a consequence hearers, as well as deaf, hard-of-hearing, and foreign people can follow “RadioXCaso” cultural, social, sport and political contents on their webpage with live subtitles, on an equal footing. In the experimental phase three different groups of volunteers, composed of Italian hearing people, Italian deaf people and foreign hearing people, have “listened” for six months to RadioXCaso contents. The comprehension of each group was tested by means of comprehension, reception and perception questionnaires in order to understand the effectiveness of the project, whose main aim is to include both foreign and deaf people within the community they live in. Interaction is also possible by letting them actively interact with the rest of the population in a dedicated forum. This forum does not only create an interaction between participants to the forum itself, but it also influences on the content of the radio. After the six months of the experimentation, it was clear to the scientific committee how useful radio subtitling is and to what extent the experiment is replicable in other fields of active citizenship, like protection of the rights of the deaf, ethics of the use of social forums, and more prominently the safety and security of the citizen in case of emergencies. These are all aspects that traditional radio broadcasting alone cannot cover. 28 Even though comprehension, reception and perception of RadioXCaso contents are no more tested, the project is still on-going. Radio subtitles are provided from a remote workstation by onA.I.R. members and technology is provided by the Italian software house SyNTHEMA which assists the project with an on-line software accessible from the Web. The software can be accessed by whatever mobile workstation connected to the Internet thanks to a dedicated on-line platform provided by the server itself. On the client side, the user dictates the text to be subtitled to the speech-to-text software program available on the on-line platform. The program automatically translates the vocal input into written text that is automatically sent to the editor’s window, who edits and sends the subtitles on the radio web-page as subtitles immediately available by the radio users. The project was not only revolutionary because it has first broken down the barriers of radio communication, but also because it has paved the way to a new form of social networking, allowing all members of the society to discuss on an equal footing, be they Italian or foreign, hearing or totally or partially deaf.


By Giuliano and Giacomo Pirelli

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