The UMAQ Conference: “Understanding Quality in Media Accessibility” (5 June 2018, Barcelona).
Media Accessibility (MA) is the research area dealing with the theories, practices, services, technologies and instruments that seek to provide universal access to media in all its kinds, especially for those who cannot, or cannot properly, access that content in its original form. Stemming from the intersection of Audiovisual Translation (AVT) with numerous other research areas, and through an inclusive accessibility paradigm, over the past twenty years MA has blossomed into a research area in its own right within the broader emerging field of accessibility studies. Many MA instruments – such as subtitling and audio description – are now well-established topics within a variety of contexts, including smart cities, museum education, live events, tourism, childhood education, second-language acquisition, filmmaking, and new media. While for a long time its main concern was providing access to persons with disabilities; in recent years MA has broadened its scope: it initially sought to include other groups at risk of cultural and social exclusion such as the elderly, children, and language minorities, then expanded even further to encompass the human rights of all. This has made MA a pivotal area for achieving the most pressing concerns of many international bodies.
For a long time, policies involving MA/AVT have been concerned with quantity, that is, setting quotas for inducing the widespread adoption of MA services. Now that quotas are being met in various countries, attention is shifting over to quality. This holds true for both policies and research. Taking a closer look at the landscape of Media Accessibility Quality (MAQ), the resulting picture conveys both a lively yet scattered scene. Lively, precisely because policy-makers, industry and researchers have increasingly started to focus on quality. Scattered, because they have been focusing on a very diverse range of issues, mostly narrowed down to a single modality, while ignoring the need for a unified vision, able to provide a more efficient and interconnected account of those issues. The fragmentation of this landscape has been further accentuated by rapid technological development as well as asymmetrical growth in the many languages. A first case in point is that of reception studies, where investigations on quality based on the reception of MA/AVT services by end-users have produced a corpus of significant, yet sometimes conflicting results. A second example is that of standardisation, the very instrument through which quality requirements are implemented at a policy level. In the draft of the European Accessibility Act, published on 2 December 2015, the European Commission acknowledged the fragmented situation to which accessibility standardisation is subject, due to divergent rules, especially in “Audio Visual Media services where different standards are used for subtitles and audio description”. Consequently, it states that “it is therefore necessary to harmonise accessibility requirements across the digital single market and to ensure that all Union citizens regardless of their abilities can enjoy its benefits”. These are only a few examples showing that there is an urgent need to address the issue of MAQ from a coordinated approach.
As part of the MSCA project “Understanding Media Accessibility Quality” (UMAQ – H2020 MSCA – 752659 – 2017-2019), the UMAQ conference will provide the first venue for gathering together key actors involved in MA quality research. This will facilitate a deeper understanding of the issues related to MAQ, as well as boost a coordinated research programme at the international level.
The UMAQ conference welcomes contributions from all stakeholders in the MA/AVT value chain, such as researchers, industry, policy-makers, and organisations of end-users.
Possible topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
- Theoretical issues and the theoretical foundation of MAQ
- Quality issues in specific MA/AVT modalities: respeaking, subtitling, audio description, etc.
- Quality in MA/AVT standards, guidelines and regulations
- The human factor in the definition and assessment of MAQ
- MAQ in technology: machine translation, access services, etc.
- The role of MA/AVT stakeholders (industry, end-users, regulators, etc.) in the definition and evaluation of quality
- MAQ and data/information quality
- MAQ and reception studies
- Metrics for measuring MAQ
- One-size-fits-all approaches versus context-dependent approaches to MAQ
- Interdisciplinary approaches to MAQ
- Intersectionality in the definition and assessment of MAQ
You can download a large print and dyslexia-friendly version of the call for papers from the following link: UMAQ Conference CFP accessible version.