Department of Media, Culture and Language

Visiting address
118 Queen's Building, Southlands
Contact

Phone: +44 (0)20 8392 3829

Biography

Pablo Romero Fresco is an Honorary Professor of Translation and Filmmaking at the University of Roehampton and Ramón y Cajal grantholder at Universidade de Vigo (Spain). He also teaches at the MA on Audiovisual Translation at Universidad Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain). He is the author of the book Subtitling through Speech Recognition: Respeaking (Routledge) and the editor of The Reception of Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Europe (Peter Lang). He has collaborated with Ofcom in the UK and with regulators, public and private institutions in Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, South Africa, Peru, Brasil, Canada or Australia to introduce and improve access to TV and live events for people with hearing loss. He is a member of the research group Transmedia Catalonia, for which he coordinated the subtitling of the EU-funded project DTV4ALL. Pablo is also a filmmaker and is working on a new initiative, accessible filmmaking, in order to integrate translation and accessibility as part of the filmmaking process. His first documentary, Joining the Dots (2012), about blindness and audiodescription, was screened during the 69th Venice Film Festival as well as at other festivals in London, Poland, France, Switzerland and Austria and was used by Netflix as well as schools around Europe to raise awareness about audiodescription.

Qualifications

BA Translation and Interpreting, MA in Filmmaking, PhD in Audiovisual Translation

Research interests

Pablo's research falls within the field of audiovisual translation, accessibility to the media and filmmaking. Within audiovisual translation, he is interested in dubbing and especially in subtitling and audiodescription as means to provide access to audiovisual media for people with hearing or visual impairments. He has worked actively in the field of live subtitling through speech recognition (respeaking), writing the first book on the subject (Subtitling through Speech Recognition: Respeaking, Manchester: St Jerome).From the point of view of filmmaking, he is interested in Accessible Filmmaking, that is, the relation between Film Studies, Filmmaking and Accessibility to the Media.

Pablo is now working on an initiative called Accessible Filmmaking, which helps integrate translation and accessibility (subtitles for the deaf, audiodescription for the blind) as part of the filmmaking process. The aim is to have the filmmakers collaborate with the translators/audio describers and supervise the translation/accessibility process, which increases the quality of the final product for foreign viewers and viewers with hearing/visual loss. The new MA in Accessibility and Filmmaking at the University of Roehampton will train students in the theory and practice of accessible filmmaking, which will also be presented in a series of events at film festivals in London and Edinburgh in 2013.

Research projects

Pablo is a member of the Centre for Research in Translation and Transcultural Studies at Roehampton University and of Transmedia Catalonia (Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona), and is involved in the following projects:

United Nations Accessibility Focus Group
Pablo has been selected as an adviser for the first World-wide Focus Group on Audiovisual Media Accessibility organised by the ITU, the leading UN agency for information and communication technology issues.
Pablo has attended the first of six meetings at the UN headquarters in Geneva which aim at producing the first set of international standards regarding accessibility for all types of media (cinema, Internet, mobile phones, etc.) and all interested parties (producers, filmmakers, broadcasters, media companies, universities and research groups, etc.).
The working group will base some of its recommendations and guidelines on the research carried out by Pablo at Roehampton University and as part of the research group Transmedia Catalonia.

Consultancy and collaboration with Ofcom to assess the quality of live subtitles in the UK
In June 2013, Ofcom issued the first report on the quality of live subtitles in the UK, drawing partly on Pablo's research. After a consultation process with deaf associations, broadcasters and access service providers, Ofcom announced in an official statement that, for the first time in the UK, broadcasters will be asked to provide data on the quality of their live subtitles. For this analysis, they will use the NER model created by Pablo, who will act as external reviewer for Ofcom.

NER model to calculate accuracy in live subtitling
In collaboration with respeaking trainer Juan Martí­nez (juan.martinez@speedchill.com), Pablo has presented the first model to assess the accuracy of live subtitles, which is being used by broadcasters, subtitling companies and govermental regulators in Spain, the UK, Italy, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Australia and South Africa. A semi-automatic tool called Star-NER has now been developed by Swiss TXT to facilitate the application of the model on a regular basis by broadcasters and subtitling companies.


Accessible filmmaking on the United Nations website
Pablo has set up a new initiative called Accessible Filmmaking, which aims to integrate accessibility and translation as part of the filmmaking process. The United Nations' ITU has included on their website both Pablo's first academic article on this subject and his documentary Joining the Dots. This short documentary on blindness and audiodescription is a pioneering example of accessible filmmaking and was screened during the 69th Venice Film Festival and selected for the 2012 London Spanish Film Festival, the 12th International Human Rights Film Festival Watch Docs (Poland) and the 2014 Look & Roll Film Festival on Disabilities (Switzerland).

Audiointroduction for films - Collaboration with Venice Film Festival
In collaboration with BBC radio presenter and audio describer Louise Fryer, Pablo has started a project to provide audiointroductions for films for blind and visually impared people.
Following the initial success of the project and further collaboration with the subtitling company Sub-ti, the audiointroductions are going to be tested at the 2011 Venice Film Festival.
Here you can listen to an item about the project on BBC Radio 4 programme "In Touch".

Digital TV for ALL Project (DTV4ALL)
As a member of Transmedia Catalonia, Pablo was the project manager of the subtitling part of the Digital TV for ALL project. Funded by the European Commission, this project involved scholars from different universities, subtitling companies, broadcasters and users' associations and aims to facilitate the provision of access services around Europe. The subtitling part focused how viewers receive subtitled media, which was analysed with questionnaires and eye-tracking technology.
The project was presented at the European Parliament in May 2011 and was the theme of an item in the BBC programme See Hear in March 2011.

Official Spanish Guidelines on Subtitling for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Pablo is a member of the committee in charge of drafting the official guidelines on subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing in Spain: http://www.aenor.es/aenor/normas/normas/fichanorma.asp?tipo=N&codigo=N0029761&PDF=Si

Research with the National Gallery and Stagetext
Pablo has also worked with the National Gallery and the subtitling company Stagetext to set up the first-ever service of accessibility in live talks and guided tours in galleries and museums in London. Pablo conducted some experiments working as a respeaker and thus providing the first live subtitles at the National Gallery for deaf and hard of hearing visitors.

Collaboration with North-West University (South Africa)
A further collaboration has taken Pablo to North-West University, in the VAAL Triangle, South Africa, where he is helping introduce respeaking in the classroom. Although 9 of the 12 official languages in South Africa are African, most universities deliver their courses in English. The majority of African students are thus at a disadvantage, having to follow classes in their third, fourth and sometimes fifth language. A recent visit to North-West University, in the VAAL Triangle, has given Pablo the opportunity to train the researchers in the Language Department of this university to implement respeaking as a tool to subtitle classes live into English, so that non-native students can have live written input as well as the audio input they already have. The first experiments have proved extremely successful and promising with a view to extending this technique to other universities around the country.

Teaching

At the MA in Audiovisual Translation and the MA in Accessibility and Filmaking, Pablo teaches Accessible Filmmaking, Interlingual Subtitling (English-Spanish), Dubbing and Voice Over, Subtitling for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Respeaking (live subtitling through speech recognition). He also teaches General Translation and Liaison Interpreting at undergraduate level (BA in Modern Languages).

Research outputs

  1. Accessing communication: The quality of live subtitles in the UK

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Accuracy Rate in Live Subtitling: The NER Model

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  3. Respeaking

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary

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