The project’s aims were to:

  1. analyse current common practices and national norms and guidelines (where they exist) to have a clear photograph of the present situation and gain a clear understanding of what is common to all and exactly what is still required – from a theoretical and practical point of view – in the provision of audiodescription;
  2. define a set of international standards and reliable guidelines for the industry and for all users;
  3. provide the material for the setting up of a Europe-wide network of audiodescription courses in higher education;
  4. sensitise policy-makers to the importance of providing the blind community with access to audiovisual products.

The project expected to go beyond that which had already been investigated, but only partially answered, with regard to audiodescription: What can be described? Which users? What should be described – scenes, characters, plot? What should not be described? How objective should the description be? What register of language should be adopted on what occasions? What voice qualities are required? and, crucially, What do the end-users like and want?

Thus the early objective, having taken stock of all that was valid in the current situation across Europe,  was to go further into the questions raised above and find criteria that will be useful across all language combinations and all kinds of material to be described ranging from film to opera to live events such as royal weddings. The use of eye-tracking technology, psychological studies and systemic linguistic investigation are examples of the kind of innovative approaches that were brought to bear.

The results of the analyses and of the experiments conducted during the life of the project have provided abundant information for an international database of material that can be consulted by all stakeholders and used in the achievement of the project’s objectives. The ultimate aim, exploiting the results of the analyses and experimentation alluded to above, was to provide the industry with a well-researched tool that can guarantee high quality and promote professional expertise. In terms of academia and the training of future describers, the objective of formulating dependable curricula for higher education courses across Europe was a natural corollary of this process.

At project end it can be asserted that the objectives have been achieved. The analyses have produced a report on the current situation in Europe, updated to 2014, a text analysis phase that spawned a book published by Benjamins Audio Description: new perspectives illustrated, a report on the rigorous testing phase and a manual of strategic guidelines for universities and for the industry available in e-book form on this website.

With respect to the current situation, the changes envisaged start from the injection of much more scientific rigour into the study of the methods used and the criteria adopted to produce AD and the specialized texts that are the outcome. Until recently much of the lore surrounding AD has been based on ‘common sense’ and practical experience with the inevitable mixing of both good and bad ideas. The cooperation between academics and professionals proposed in the ADLAB project has represented a move towards a more scientific and therefore more monitorable situation.

Back to Project