Subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing on UK television is regulated by Ofcom, which ensures that subtitle coverage is high and of good quality. In the live event setting, very good access also exists, but, without a similar regulatory body, the breadth and frequency of this access is not guaranteed. The Respeaking at Live Events research programme has explored how respeaking, a method of creating live subtitles through speech recognition, could be introduced into this setting to broaden the access provided. In this presentation, I will draw together and share the key findings from the project. I will illustrate how central the action research approach adopted has been to the structure and evolution of this research and how this project is grounded in and by the notions of social and epistemic justice.

From the outset, the voices of all involved in running live events were at the heart of this study, including venue representatives, technicians, presenters, respeakers, and the audience themselves. Data was collected through focus groups and questionnaires; a training programme was developed to allow professional TV respeakers to transfer their skills into this new setting. Two series of research events and reception studies followed, allowing the programme to be refined, ensuring it was fit for purpose and applicable for a range of scenarios.

As the research events progressed, it became clear that it was not only the respeakers who would need training to ensure that high quality subtitles would be provided; everyone involved in this access provision needed to become familiar with the process of respeaking and the technical and working set-up required. In particular, those presenting at events, be they Q&A sessions, presentations, or museum tours, needed specific training to work effectively with the respeakers and venue staff to ensure each event ran smoothly. Communication between the key parties involved, including the audience, was essential.

In the presentation, both training programmes will be outlined and I will also share the guidelines that resulted for making live events accessible through respeaking. Alongside this, I will present a model for participatory engagement at live events, which is in line with the proactive approach to access (Greco, 2018) and Romero-Fresco’s approach to accessible filmmaking (2019).

References, see Abstract pdf.