Eyes and ears: Animest launches the first project to make films accessible to hearing-impaired children


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The magical universe of animated films for children opens its doors to the hearing-impaired audience in Romania. Eyes and Ears, the new project created by Animest, with the support of the Orange Foundation, will offer viewers a viewing experience adapted to their needs, accessible both in the cinema hall and in classrooms or in front of screens at home.

Through this approach, the organizers of the largest animation film festival in Eastern Europe aim to contribute to the development of new alternative education tools for deaf children. The initiative is part of a wider project to promote inclusion by making cinematographic products accessible to as diverse audiences as possible, starting from our belief that the limits are in the way we present films, not in the viewers’ abilities to enjoy them, and cultural events inclusive should be the norm, not an exception”, declares Ligia Soare, the project coordinator.

With the help of students from special schools in Bucharest and with the permanent consultation of teachers, 10 animated films for children of all ages will be interpreted in Romanian sign language and accessible subtitles for the deaf. The films will be able to be watched in any educational institution in Romania, as alternative learning tools through the film. The educational component of the project will become an extension of the Academia Minimest program, through which Animest offers free animation films on educational topics and worksheets for students and teachers from schools in Romania.

The project is part of the Animest Association’s effort to transform cinema halls into welcoming spaces for all spectators, without obstacles. The pilot edition of the Eyes and Ears project will also mean the technical endowment with an induction loop, which improves sound quality for hearing aid wearers. This system will be available in one of the screening spaces where the 19th Animest Festival will take place, to make the festival experience more inclusive and accessible.

In order to promote the concept of inclusive cinema in the domestic creative community and to encourage producers, distributors, organizers of cinema events and projection spaces to take a step towards adopting accessible film presentation formulas in Romania, the Animest Association offers professionals sessions training and information. Film translators are targeted in the first phase, invited to participate, in March, in a specialization course held by one of the most acclaimed international researchers and trainers in the field of accessible subtitling, Dr. Josélia Neves, university teacher.

Participation will be free, within the limit of available places, and details about the course and registration can be found on the Animest website. The audio-visual translation training for hearing-impaired viewers is the first of its kind to be held publicly in Romania, and the course participants will work together to design version 1.0 of the Romanian subtitling guide accessible for deaf people. The event will be followed, also in March, by a day of intensive training for the organizers of festivals and cinema events, cultural managers, film distributors, representatives of cultural institutions, who will be invited to participate in the training free of charge. They will also be addressed with the first guide to good practices in organizing accessible film festivals for deaf people, which Animest is drafting with the consultation and validation of the project’s direct beneficiaries.

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