Shall we watch… Oh, yes, we can!

Shall we watch… Oh, yes, we can!

“Hey, darling, shall we watch that brand-new show that’s out, which everyone is watching?

“Oh, it doesn’t have subtitles.

“How about that blockbuster film we’ve been waiting ages for, starring… Oh, no subtitles on that either.”

Does this story sound familiar?

Since meeting my fiancée over nine years ago, it used to be an almost daily occurrence. As someone that is hard of hearing, her enjoyment of the latest and greatest programmes and films the entertainment world has to offer is entirely reliant on the work broadcasters do in the accessibility space.

Like with many things, until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes you won’t truly know what they’re going through. At the start of our relationship, I’ll admit I found watching subtitles difficult and would avoid them completely when watching things on my own. Slowly over time, though, I became so entrenched in that world that I found myself watching things with subtitles when my fiancé was not around. And now I watch everything exclusively with them on.

As my subtitle journey, so to speak, developed, I began taking a keener interest in the quality and availability of subtitles that were being produced. Because I am so emotionally invested in this subject, due to my fiancée, I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated at either the lack of availability on some programmes or the poor quality on offer, even more so than she does! Many nights have been spent performing a dual role. Hearing what’s being said and reading the subtitles at the same time, ready to clarify any mistakes so my partner doesn’t misconstrue what’s going on. This is because the role subtitles play for the deaf and hard of hearing can’t be understated, and a single misinterpreted word can confuse or throw the whole experience off.

So, what did I do about it?

Having left the world of PR, I wanted to move into an area I was passionate about. And seeing the frustration and disappointment my fiancée goes through sometimes trying to find things to watch, I set on a course to help her, and everyone like her, in my small way. Through my amazing charm (I’m sure that was it), I secured a role as a pre-recorded subtitler for Sky. My training opened up my eyes even more to the complex nature and incredible hard work that’s needed to produce high-quality subtitles. The standard at Sky is demandingly high, and rightfully so.

Why am I telling you this?

The reason is simple. Like me, if you’re reading this it’s because you have an interest in the accessibility space. For such an important subject that affects someone I love, I know I’d want the people producing the work to really care about it. Because you can be rest assured that’s absolutely the case. The team here at Sky is incredibly diligent in creating the same experience for all, whether you’re hearing, hard of hearing or deaf. Whilst each subtitler is given their own programme to work on, almost every day the team is jumping in to help each other create the best subtitles they can by listening to make sure every word is correct. Now, in the interest of time, we could simply fudge the word, but that wouldn’t be fair. Because, as I’ve mentioned, this isn’t about us.

So, let’s start again.

“Hey, darling, shall we watch that show taking the country by storm? Oh…yes, we certainly can!”

Written by James Roche, Sky Subtitler