From disabilities to capabilities: Testing subtitles in immersive environments with end users

Belén Agulló, Anna Matamala, Pilar Orero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


© 2018 Universidad de Cordoba, Servicio de Publicaciones. All Rights Reserved. User testing in Media Accessibility has often profiled users based on their disabilities. Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, for instance, have been generally tested with their expected target audience, which is deaf and hard-of-hearing users. This article argues that selecting users based on sensory disabilities may not be the best strategy to obtain relevant results, as other capabilities––for instance, technological capabilities—may have a greater impact on the results. Moreover, the article argues that access services should not be exclusively for persons with disabilities but also for other audiences. If accessibility is mainstreamed, and ideally integrated in the creation and production processes, testing should expand beyond an exclusive approach based on accessibility to a more general approach based on usability where users with diverse capabilities are considered. To illustrate this point and propose a new approach to user testing in Media Accessibility, moving from a disability to a capability model, specific examples from the European Union funded project ImAc (Immersive Accessibility) are shown in a chronological order. Then, the article presents the initial testing, targeting persons with disabilities, and describes the poor data results leading to a new approach. A new testing focus is proposed, and the methodological shift is justified. After that, the second test in which the new approach is implemented is described, using the same stimuli but users with different levels of knowledge regarding new technologies. The article finishes with conclusions and final remarks in which the door is opened to move from an accessibility approach to testing to a usability approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-220
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Immersive content
  • Media Accessibility
  • Subtitles
  • Subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • User profiling


Dive into the research topics of 'From disabilities to capabilities: Testing subtitles in immersive environments with end users'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this