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Press Conference

"OltreSuoni" Project 


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 The International Association on Respeaking onA.I.R. and the Association TDM 2000 organized a conference in order to illustrate their project “OltreSuoni” and to discuss its actual effectiveness in the field of active citizenship.

 OltreSuoni is a pilot project consisting in the real-time subtitling of “Unica Radio”, the web-radio of Cagliari University, which will broadcast cultural, social, sport and political contents on its website with subtitles generated by means of the respeaking technique.

 The conference was attended by local authorities, members of the Scientific Committee of the project, members of TDM 2000, members of onA.I.R., members of the provincial section of Cagliari of the National Deaf Association (ENS), stenotypists, representatives of the local community and the press. The whole conference was subtitled in real time via respeaking as well as translated into the Italian Sign Language, with the double aim of showing how these two techniques can be used at the same time without clashing and how respeaking can be used even in places which are not specifically equipped.

 Speakers at the conference were Michele Demontis, Vice-presidente of TDM 2000 and press agent of onA.I.R., who also acted as moderator; Gianluca Massimiliano Frongia, President of TDM 2000, who stressed how important it is for the deaf to actively take part in the life of their community as well as in real-time debates; Francesca Marchionne, President of onA.I.R., who illustrated the usefulness of respeaking and real-time subtitling in order to increase the social inclusion of the deaf and of immigrants; Carlo Eugeni, coordinator of the Scientific Committee and HR manager of the Association onA.I.R., who subtitled the conference in real time by means of respeaking; Salvatore Meloni, President of the Cagliari section of the ENS, who enthusiastically supported the project and guaranteed their cooperation. A special role was played by Giuliano Pirelli, who presented the results of the project VOICE, the forerunner of live subtitling via respeaking.

 For a period of six months three groups of volunteers – hearing and deaf Italians as well as hearing foreigners – will “listen” to the web-radio. Their level of understanding will be tested in order to assess the effectiveness of the project, which mainly aims at including both foreigners and deaf people into the community they live in. This will allow them not only to passively access radio programs, but also to actively interact with the remaining population on a dedicated forum. All this is revolutionary and extremely innovative, because it not only breaks down the barriers of communication via radio, it also creates a new social network where all members of society – Italians, foreigners, hearing, partially or completely deaf – can discuss on equal terms.

 This forum will not only allow its participants to interact with each other, it will also shape the contents of radio programs. After this six months’ trial, the Scientific Committee will have a clearer view as to the possible fields of application of radio subtitling and as to the extent to which such an experiment can be replicated in other fields of active citizenship. Possible applications of this project are the protection of the rights of the deaf, the ethics and use of social forums and, above all, the citizens’ safety in case of emergency.

 The Italian software company SyNTHEMA will provide technical assistance and support the project with a software available online. Said software will be accessible from any workstation with an internet connection via a dedicated online platform on the server itself. The respeaker will dictate the text to be subtitled to a speech recognition software, which will automatically transform the vocal input into a written text immediately transmitted to the website of the radio as subtitles, so that it will be readily available to the radio users.

 

Carlo Eugeni 

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Translation by Cristina Tabbia

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