Taking off with the SMART Project

Male Singing with country flags coming out of his mask.
The ESRC-funded SMART project officially launches in July 2020, but work is already underway and three new research fellows have joined Surrey’s Centre for Translation Studies.

The ‘Shaping Multilingual Access through Respeaking Technology’ (SMART) project aims to investigate how respeaking, a complex and hybrid practice which combines speech recognition technology, human interpreting and subtitling skills, can be adjusted from the intralingual setting that it has most often been used in to produce interlingual real-time text, where the respeaker works across languages. As the need for accessible material in live settings continues to grow, the demand for multilingual access has increased. The potential impact of this research is significant, as it seeks to design an upskilling course for language professionals to work in this new, emerging area.

The project represents a unique collaboration of professionals, from academia and industry alike, allowing the rigour of academic research to be shaped by industry experience and needs, leading to industry-relevant findings. Led by Dr Elena Davitti, Senior Lecturer at The University of Surrey’s Centre for Translation Studies (CTS), academics include Dr Simon Evans, Lecturer in Neuroscience at Surrey’s School of Psychology, Professor Lucile Desblache from the University of Roehampton, Dr Pablo Romero-Fresco, University of Vigo and University of Roehampton, and Annalisa Sandrelli, University of International Studies of Rome-UNINT. Industrial partners include Ai-MediaSky and Sub-ti Ltd. In addition, three new research fellows have joined the team at the CTS to work on this ground-breaking research.

Dr Hayley Dawson holds a PhD in Translation Studies from the University of Roehampton, in which she explored training for interlingual respeakers to provide access for a wide audience. She is a Spanish to English translator and subtitler and is a member of GALMA where she contributes to training for pre-recorded and live subtitling. Dr Louise Fryer has a PhD in experimental psychology and, having worked as an audio describer for over 25 years, is an expert in accessibility. She has collaborated in a number of EU projects (ADLAB PRO, HBB4 All) and is the author of An Introduction to Audio description: A Practical Guide (Routledge, 2016). Zoe Moores is currently completing her PhD at the University of Roehampton, where she investigated how respeaking could be introduced into the live event setting in the UK to broaden the access provided. She is involved in a number of accessibility-related projects through GALMA and has worked professionally as a respeaker and subtitler.

With exciting first steps already underway, we look forward to sharing more updates as the project advances.

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