Until recently, quality was the pending issue in live subtitling. In the last years, however, it has moved from being a users’ petition to consolidating as a hot topic in the agenda of broadcasters, practitioners, researchers and trainers alike. Live subtitling quality has been tackled differently, with some countries adopting soft approaches in the form of recommendations, and others implementing hard approaches including the need to assess quality objectively (Romero-Fresco, 2020). Among the few instruments created to this end, the NER model seems to be one of the most widely used (Romero-Fresco & Martínez, 2015). Originally devised to assess live subtitling in the UK, this model is now being used in countries with similar respeaking traditions, such as Spain, and also in some areas, such as Canada or the US, where the focus is on literality and closed captions are often produced through stenography technologies.
The need to adapt to different live subtitling conventions and production methods has led to a process of internationalisation of the NER model, which has involved the need to centralize and mainstream extensive information (e.g. videos, infographics, websites or training protocols). However, this internationalisation process has also exposed the tensions and challenges that arise when particular versions of the model are created to account for the peculiarities of each country, which begs questions such as: Are results across all NER variants entirely comparable? Is the minimum quality threshold (98%) equally valid across countries? Should common methodologies be adopted to ensure validity, consistency and comparability? This presentation will attempt to find answers to these questions in order to ascertain whether a happy medium can be obtained between the internationalisation of live subtitling quality assessment (which can allow for results to be compared) and, on the other hand, the need to adapt to, and account for, different practices across languages and cultures.
Romero-Fresco, P. (2020) “Negotiating Quality Assessment in Media Accessibility: The Case of Live Subtitling”. Universal Access in the Information Society, 33, Special Issue on Quality of Media Accessibility Products and Services.
Romero-Fresco, Pablo and Martínez, Juan (2015) “Accuracy Rate in Live Subtitling: The NER Model”, in Jorge Díaz-Cintas Rocío and Baños Piñero (eds.) Audiovisual Translation in a Global Context. Mapping an Ever-changing Landscape, London: Palgrave, 28-50.