Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Verbatim, Standard, or Edited? Reading Patterns of Different Captioning Styles among Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Hearing Viewers

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Verbatim, Standard, or Edited? Reading Patterns of Different Captioning Styles among Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Hearing Viewers

Article excerpt

ONE OF THE most frequently recurring themes in captioning is whether captions should be edited or verbatim. The authors report on the results of an eye-tracking study of captioning for deaf and hard of hearing viewers reading different types of captions. By examining eye movement patterns when these viewers were watching clips with verbatim, standard, and edited captions, the authors tested whether the three different caption styles were read differently by the study participants (N = 40): 9 deaf, 21 hard of hearing, and 10 hearing individuals. Interesting interaction effects for the proportion of dwell time and fixation count were observed. In terms of group differences, deaf participants differed from the other two groups only in the case of verbatim captions. The results are discussed with reference to classical reading studies, audiovisual translation, and a new concept of viewing speed.

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of efforts to make audiovisual programs accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people through closed-captioning. (For a discussion of the term subtitling versus captioning, see de Linde and Kay, 1999, p. 8, and Neves, 2008). Some countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, have taken the lead, especially focusing on the quantity of captioning and on increasing statutory targets. Others, such as Poland,1 the site of the present study, have tried to follow suit - both in terms of quantity and quality of captioning, but are still lagging behind. Pursuant to a 2007 European Union (EU) directive,2 Poland has introduced accessibility regulations requiring broadcasters to provide 10% of their programs with captions, audio descriptions, and sign language interpreting (Polish Journal of Laws of 2011), though this has occurred only recently.

Regardless of the development stage of captioning in particular countries, it seems that certain issues are recurrent in captioning. One of them is the question of whether captions should be rendered verbatim - that is, in the form of a literal and faithful transcription of the dialogue list - or should be edited - that is, condensed and simplified in order to foster comprehension and facilitate the reading process. (A third format, standard, represents a sort of middle way between these two approaches.)

In the present article, we report on results in Poland of eye-tracking research on captioning for deaf and hard of hearing television viewers carried out within the framework of the EUfunded project Digital Television for All (DTV4ALL). The project encompassed a number of research issues, among them character identification (by means of colors, speaker-dependent placement, and name tags), placement (top, bottom, mixed), justification (centered or left aligned), and the use of emoticons and icons to denote sounds. In the present article, we only present the results pertaining to verbatim, standard, and edited captioning (see Romero Fresco, in press, for more details on methodology and results) .

By examining eye movement patterns of three groups of study participants (deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing, TV = 40) as they watched three captioned video clips - one verbatim, one standard, and one edited - we aimed to establish whether the three groups of participants read the three different captions styles differently and which type of captions would be optimal for the deaf and hard of hearing viewers. With this goal in mind, we analyzed the overall comprehension of the three captioned clips, the percentage of time spent on captions versus the percentage spent on an image, the number of times the participants moved their eyes from captions to the image (deflections), and fixation patterns in the three caption styles.

Literature Review

One of the most common themes in captioning is whether captions should be edited or verbatim. Edited captions are characterized by a reduction in the linguistic content of the dialogue. …

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