The obligation to provide real time subtitles has risen since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the European Accessibility Act and the Audiovisual Media Service Directive. Yet, the provision across Europe is uneven and its quality uncontrolled (EFHOH, 2015) or insufficient (Romero et al., 2017). Also, most currently working subtitlers are untrained, with no clear or recognized professional status (EU project ACT 2015). LTA (LiveTextAcces) will trained professionals enable access to live audiovisual content and in situations where support for communication is required. LTA covers four of these main areas: education, live events, broadcasting and parliamentary sessions.
Real time subtitles can be produced in three ways: by stenotype, respeaking or Velotype. Stenotyping is reliable and accurate, but it is language specific, only exists in very few EU languages, the training takes long and the service is expensive. The second, respeaking, implies using a speech recognition software to transfer voice to text. Respeaking is the less expensive and a consolidated method nowadays. Yet, end-users criticize the uneven quality delivered and the number of available languages is limited. The third one is Velotype, a EU developed system positioned between previous two in terms of quality, delay and cost. The Velotype keyboard produces whole syllables or words with every keystroke, allowing trained subtitlers to type at the speed of speech for longer periods. It is available in over 30 languages and has shown to deliver superior results in noisy environments and when it comes to high quality orthographic typing. LTA focuses on respeaking and Velotype, since they cover the greater number of languages and working scenarios, respond to the market demands and show a higher employability potential.
LTA will create the skills card of the new profile as needed in the labour market (OI1), design a modular course (IO2) and create training materials as Open Educational Resources (IO3). The user centric evaluation with prospective students and trainers will guarantee the quality of the educational resources and provide a repository of assessment methods, also for the trained skills (IO4). In IO5, LTA will certificate the new profile, the roles (respeaker and velotypist) and the educational components for both academic and vocational levels: ECTS/ECVETS will be attributed to each educational component to secure their quality, and also the project's sustainability and resilience. In this way, trainees will see their knowledge, skills, competence and qualifications quickly and easily recognized, thus raising their skill levels and increasing their employability. The certification will secure the project resilience beyond the end of the project life.
The LTA consortium includes three HEIs (SDI München, UABarcelona and SSML) working at the cutting edge of media accessibility training and research, one European certification partner (ECQA) to secure academic and vocational levels, one end-users association (EFHOH) and three non-educational partners (SUBTI, ZDF Digital and Velotype) to ensure that the profile meets multiple market and end-user needs.
Not only prospective trainees will benefit. LTA will have a strong long-term impact on a wide spectrum of potential beneficiaries of subtitles produced by the new professionals. These include vulnerable audiences (elderly, physically or mentally challenged groups, people with special needs and learning disabilities including those diagnosed with autism) and any new citizens wishing to integrate into the cultural environment of their new homeland (migrants). This broad impact is also shown through the blend of associated partners joining the project. The dissemination of the results will also be facilitated by three key actions: 1) the collaboration with the accessibility-focused radio station Fred Film Radio (which will reach 6.7 million people a year through 25 European language channels). 2) the inclusion of LTA in the EU-funded MAP, the first online platform on media accessibility that will reach the key stakeholders worldwide. 3) the promotion of the certified profile and training at the ECQA GmbH website.
The training material produced by LTA will be open, online and free, but also modular and fully customizable: it will be possible to use the modules all together as a comprehensive course, or separately in different constellations, and catered to trainees´ needs as for blind and low sighted students. This offers added value to the project in three ways: (1) enabling anyone to access and be trained via this material, regardless of their professional or academic background; (2) offering its deliverables worldwide thus enabling EU's know-how, access concepts and guidelines to be disseminated effortlessly across the globe; and (3) securing resilience, since the online material will have validity for many years.