Conference presentation

Unveiling accessibility challenges in the use of translation technologies: implications for teaching visually-impaired translation trainees

Presented at3rd International Conference on Research into the Didactics of Translation, Barcelona (Spain), 7th-8th July 2016
Publication date2016

Translation is now a highly technologized professional practice. The use of computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools has become the norm, to the extent that almost every translation commissioner expects translators to master such technology. Understandably, universities have been making countless efforts to adapt their translation curriculum to this new reality. The dynamics of the translation technology market −new version releases, emergence of new tools− often motivate changes in CAT tool-oriented courses from one academic year to another, rendering it sometimes difficult to be in line with most recent trends. The preparation of CAT tool lab sessions becomes even more demanding when screen users, often visually-impaired, are part of the audience. Over the last years, members of the blind community have increasingly enrolled in and successfully completed higher-education translation programmes. As a result, their presence has become more noticeable within translator networks, with many of them joining the pools of international organisations and the European Commission. In this communication paper, we aim at examining the major challenges faced by blind translators when entering the professional market, particularly regarding the use of CAT tools. The ultimate goal is to study (i) which tools are better suited for them and (ii) which resources exist to overcome current accessibility barriers in the use of translation technology. The latter would, in turn, provide insight into how to adapt the methodology followed in CAT tools teaching to jointly meet the needs and expectations of both blind and sighted translation trainees. To accomplish the above, we have complemented our knowledge as accessibility, screen reader software and translation technology experts with data gathered from a comprehensive survey targeting visually¬ impaired translation professionals. The call for participation was advertised through The Round Table mailing list, the leading information exchange hub for visually impaired translators and interpreters. Preliminary findings from 35 respondents suggest that recent versions of the most popular CAT tools, including SDL software, are substantially less accessible than previous ones. Similarly, while scripting techniques are often referred to as a means to bypass inaccessible features, they are not seen as a sustainable solution. Above all, Fluency stands as the CAT tool that yielded the highest satisfaction rates; yet, blind translators feel that mastering this tool only is not enough to meet current translation job requirements. In this perspective, we believe that, if compliant with accessibility standards, the new generation of web-based tools could empower visually-impaired translators to enter the job market under similar working conditions as their sighted peers.

  • accessibility
  • blind translators
  • CAT tools
Citation (ISO format)
RODRIGUEZ VAZQUEZ, Silvia, PYTHON, Rania, MILETO, Fiorenza. Unveiling accessibility challenges in the use of translation technologies: implications for teaching visually-impaired translation trainees. In: 3rd International Conference on Research into the Didactics of Translation. Barcelona (Spain). 2016.
  • PID : unige:86879

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