TADS: Translation of Audio Description Scripts

Description of the project

Audio description (AD) is a technique to verbalise visual content for blind and visually impaired people. Research on this description technique, in particular applied to films, is carried out in the field of Applied Linguistics within a branch of Translation Studies that deals with intersemiotic forms of translation.

Despite the signing of Directive (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on accessibility requirements for products and services, the current supply of audio described films is rather limited. From the scientific side, therefore, the question of optimising the work processes for the production of audio described films has been raised for several years. This includes the translatability of AD scripts for dubbed films and TV series, a topic which is highly relevant for multilingual broadcasters and their suppliers.

Initial research indicates that AD scripts possess specific text type features. We assume that for this reason, AD script translations cannot be used without the following localisation tasks: consider country-specific AD guidelines, fit the AD units into the dialogue gaps of the dubbed film, and maintain coherence between AD units and the dubbed soundtrack.

Based on current findings in AD research, the TADS project pursues two closely related goals:

1. Contrastive research on the text type AD script by compiling, annotating, and evaluating parallel and monolingual corpora containing French and German AD scripts and their corresponding films in original and dubbed versions, if available.

2. Research on the suitability of translated AD scripts for the production of audio described films by means of a study to survey and compare the effort and duration involved in the production of AD scripts: production ex novo versus human translation, or NMT (neural machine translation). We also seek to analyse the quality of the results. The acceptability of the audio described films based on the AD scripts obtained is investigated through a user study.

Our decision to compile a German-French/French German AD script corpus is justified by the fact that to date, little research has been done on ADs in these two languages. Our cooperation partners, the television broadcasters ARTE and SRF, will provide us with AD scripts of dubbed films and series in German and French and for some of them even with their video. In addition, corpus-based and corpus driven research opens up the perspective to identify linguistic features which may help to explain and to face challenges linked to AD script production for dubbed films.

The outcomes of the TADS project are several annotated datasets (some of them multimodal) shared with the scientific community, as well as the developed guidelines for the localisation of translated AD scripts and for AD-specific post-editing.


Main team members (alphabetical order):

German Team: Nathalie Mälzer, Saskia Schulz, Maria Wünsche

French Team: Eva Schaeffer-LacroixMaria Zimina-Poirot

in cooperation with: the broadcasters ARTE, SRF, the association of blind and visually impaired people DBSV, the film describers Anke Nicolai and Laure Morisset 

Consultants: Sylvia Jaki, Ulrich Heid, Serge Heiden and Thomas Schmidt



Schaeffer-Lacroix, Eva. "Language learning from an audio description corpus". TaLC13 2018, Faculty of Education, Cambridge (England), July 18-21st, 2018.

Berland, Kirsten / Mälzer, Nathalie / Schaeffer-Lacroix, Eva / Schulz, Saskia. “Purpose and features of the TVseriesAD corpus”, 3rd Swiss Conference on Barrier-free Communication, ZHAW (Virtual), July 1st, 2020

Schaeffer-Lacroix, Eva. "Annotation von Audiodeskriptionsskripten am Beispiel des Korpus zu Neues aus Büttenwarder" (videoconference). Forschungskolloquium Fachbereich 3 (Sprach- und Informationswissenschaften). University of Hildesheim, November 24th 2020.

Mälzer, Nathalie / Schaeffer-Lacroix, Eva. “The French-German TADS Project: A Multi Method Approach to the Translation of AD Scripts”, ARSAD Barcelona 2021, January 26th, 2021

Schaeffer-Lacroix, Eva / Saskia Josephine Schulz. "Creating and translating audio descriptions with the help of Frazier". Colloque interdisciplinaire "Vers une robotique du traduire ?". Université de Strasbourg, 30 September - 1 October 2021. https://robotrad2020.sciencesconf.org/

Schaeffer-Lacroix, Eva / Céline Largier Vié. "Deutsche Adverbien und Adverbiale aus der Sicht des TreeTaggers". Colloque Deutsche Adverbien und Adverbiale aus deskriptiver, theoretischer und vergleichender Sicht. Maison des Sciences de l'Homme d'Aquitaine, Université Bordeaux Montaigne, 29-30 April 2021. 


1. Schaeffer-Lacroix, E., Mälzer, N., Berland, K., & Schulz, S. (to appear 2021). Purpose and features of the TVseriesAD corpus. BfC 2020 Conference Proceedings. 3rd Swiss Conference on Barrier-free Communication., Winterthur (Switzerland). https://doi.org/10.21256/zhaw-3001

2. Schaeffer-Lacroix, E., Magnus, G., & Grass, T. (2020). Usages variés de l’outil d’exploration de corpus TXM dans le contexte de l’allemand. In B. Terrisse, R. Lambertz-Pollan, M. Roudaut, J. Dahm, K. Forbrig, C. Fradin, & G. Zielinski (Eds.), Machines / Maschinen. Les machines dans l’espace germanique: De l’automate de Kempelen à Kraftwerk. (Presses Universitaires de Rennes, pp. 313-328.).

3. Schaeffer-Lacroix, E. (2020). "Integrating corpus-based audio description tasks into an intermediate-level German course". International Journal of Applied Linguistics (Wiley), p. 1-20. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ijal.12294

4. Mälzer, N./ Wünsche, M. (2018). Audioeinführungen. In: Christiane Maaß/ Isabel Rink, Hrsg. (2018), Handbuch Barrierefreie Kommunikation. Berlin: Frank & Timme, 471-486.

5. Mälzer, N., Hrsg. (2016). Barrierefreie Kommunikation – Perspektiven aus Theorie und Praxis. Berlin: Frank & Timme.

6. Schaeffer-Lacroix, E. (2015). Analyse de trois systèmes de gestion de corpus pour l'enseignement-apprentissage des langues étrangères. Alsic 18(1). https://alsic.revues.org/2852

7. Mälzer-Semlinger, N. (2012). Narration or Description – What Should Audio Description ‘Look’ Like? In: Elisa Perego (Hrsg.), Emerging Topics in Translating and Interpreting. Triest: EUT, 29-36.

8. Schaeffer-Lacroix, E., & Berland, K. (submitted). Dealing with variation in audio descriptions scripts. JAT (Journal of Audiovisual Translation), 10.

Working Group Meeting

On November 19th 2020, the first meeting of the TADS-group took place. Due to the current situation the meeting was held on Zoom.

The following members attended the meeting:

INSPE Paris: Eva Schaeffer-Lacroix, Pierre Lignee

University of Hildesheim: Nathalie Mälzer, Maria Wünsche, Sylvia Jaki, Saskia Schulz

The next meeting is scheduled in Paris, for end of may 2021.


Cooperation partners

Our cooperations partners are ARTE, ZDF, SRF who provide the team with audio descriptions scripts and audiovisual content. We would also like to thank Beta Film, Sommerhaus Filmproduktion for their support.

VIDEO TO VOICE supports the project by granting us free access to their platform Frazier.

The company develops tools that make audiovisual content accessible to all, regardless of disability. The Berlin-based firm’s software incorporates machine translation technology, allowing audio descriptions to be produced in over 40 languages. 

We would like to thank "Video to Voice" for supporting our project.

Find more information on: https://www.videotovoice.com