Sign translation: why Scribit.Pro can add sign language to video content in addition to subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

1 April 2024  
Illustration in the Scribit colors of a person painting smileys.

Scribit.Pro makes videos accessible to a large group of users. We add audio description to video content. This image description provides people with visual impairment with information about what can be seen. Scribit.Pro also provides the video with subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing. In these subtitles all dialogues can be read, but music or important background sounds are also mentioned. In addition, we make a transcript of every video, a textual version of all the information that can be seen and heard. These three accessibility features ensure that videos are easy to follow for a large group of users, with and without disabilities. In addition, video with audio description, subtitles and transcription complies with the internationally applicable guidelines for accessibility, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (or WCAG).

Scribit.Pro also offers the option to create a sign translation of a video. Sign language is a visual language of gestures, posture and facial expressions. Sign language is mainly used by people with a hearing impairment, but can also be used by people who have difficulty with spoken language. With a sign translation, we record a second video in which a professional Dutch Sign Language interpreter converts the spoken text from the video into sign language. This video can then be seen next to the original video, so that the video and the message can be followed at the same time. You may have seen a news program where a sign translation of the program is also made in this way. Sign language interpreters were also present at the press conferences during the corona pandemic. 

But why is sign translation necessary or desirable? Isn't it easy to follow a production if there are subtitles? The answer is: not for everyone. Subtitles, and certainly the variant that Scribit.Pro makes, subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, make the message a lot clearer for people with hearing loss. But for people who are born deaf, subtitles can be difficult to follow. After all, they have sign language as their mother tongue. People born deaf in the Netherlands were raised with Dutch Sign Language: NGT. Written and spoken Dutch can be more difficult for them to follow, because it is not a language that they necessarily use daily or regularly, or use at all. Sign language is a completely different language than Dutch, or for example English or Spanish. It is a completely unique language with its own grammar and sentence structure.

For viewers born deaf, reading a subtitle in Dutch is like having to use a second language: it takes more energy, and often also time and willpower, to understand it. And even then it may be difficult to get all the details or nuance. When a sign language interpreter translates a message from someone else, or from a media production, this is done in the form of communication they are used to.

In addition, the meaning of what is said is also determined by the use of voice. It is not always possible to determine from written text whether the speaker is happy or sad, shocked, insecure or perhaps angry. A sign language interpreter not only translates what is said, but also conveys the tone or mood through facial expressions and posture. 

That's why Scribit.Pro also offers customers the option to have a sign translation of video content made. This makes a video more understandable and accessible to as many people as possible. With a sign translation, your video content even meets the AAA level of the WCAG 2.1 guidelines. Good news for you, your target group and society. Together we work towards an accessible future.

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