Research Outputs

This page provides an overview (per year) of the BFC project research outputs, including the latest publications on different aspects related to barrier-free communication by our team members:



During 2017, Project partners at the ZHAW addressed Research Areas (RA) RA1, RA2, RA3, RA4, RA5, RA8, RA9 and RA10 across the following two Work Packages (WPs):

  • WP1 (January-August 2017, completed): Compilation of a catalogue of target group requirements;
  • WP2 (Sept 2017-February 2019, in progress): Compilation of a catalogue of existing technology and methods.

Use the drop-down menus for an overview of the outputs per Research Area.

RA1: Audio Description and RA2: Combining Audio Description, Audio Introduction and Text-to-Speech (Read-aloud) Technology

WP1: Various tests were designed and implemented, several case studies were evaluated and an anonymous online survey was conducted with the target population to assess the communication needs of younger – especially students – as well as older visually impaired and blind people according to the degree of their impairment. Additionally, a survey with visually impaired people was conducted to examine their use of text-to-speech systems.

WP2: Following the analysis of the existing guidelines for descriptive (Benecke 2014) and interpretative Audio Description (AD) (Fix 2005; Fryer 2016), and the analysis of existing AD scripts – currently almost exclusively available for feature films –, relevant linguistic findings were applied to the design of tests with the target groups. In particular, one test was conducted to investigate participants’ (n=12) perception of the effectiveness of Audio Introduction for the comprehension of an educational film. The test results suggest that Audio Introduction (AI) – by anticipating contents that are only visually represented in the film and cannot be gathered from the film soundtrack – clearly improves the comprehension of relevant and often crucial information. Additionally, ad-hoc AIs were produced for a series of documentaries, educational and information films.

As far as the software-aided production of AD is concerned, the user manuals of three commercial AD software applications, i.e. Starfish Advantage, SwiftAdept, MAGPie, were created.

Research outputs were presented in various workshops and lectures. An ever-growing demand for expertise in AD production at higher education level in Switzerland was clearly noticed, along with a need for accessible resources to integrate ADs into self-produced educational films. Such resources will be developed and tested in the course of the Project.


  • Benecke, Bernd. 2014. Audiodeskription als partielle Translation. Modell und Methode. Berlin: LIT.
  • Dorigo, Raphael. “Audiodeskription von Fussballspielen in der Schweiz. Untersuchung von Theorie und Praxis eines jungen Barrierefreiheits-Angebots.” Master’s thesis, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), 2017 [Supervision: Susanne J. Jekat].
  • Fix, Ulla, ed. 2005. Hörfilm. Bildkompensation durch Sprache. Berlin: Schmidt Verlag GmbH & Co.
  • Fryer, Louise. 2016. An Introduction to Audio Description. London: Routledge.
  • Gerster, Marina, and Petra Hanselmann. “Produktplatzierung in der Audiodeskription. Die Entwicklung der Produktplatzierung in der Audiodeskription am Beispiel der Filmreihe James Bond 007.” Bachelor’s thesis, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), 2016 [Supervision: Susanne J. Jekat].
  • Häberlin, Daniel, and Corinne Maurer. “Verstehen, ohne zu sehen. Die Audioeinführung und ihr Beitrag zum Verständnis eines Sachfilms.” Bachelor’s thesis, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), 2017 [Supervision: Susanne J. Jekat].
  • Jekat, Susanne J., and Annegret E. Olàh. 2016. “Theorie und Methode der Audiodeskription: ein Pilotprojekt.” In Barrierefreie Kommunikation – Perspektiven aus Theorie und Praxis, edited by Nathalie Mälzer, 69-94. Berlin: Frank & Timme.
  • Jekat, Susanne J., Daniel Prontera, and Richard Bale. 2015. “On the Perception of Audio Description: Developing a Model to Compare Films and their Audio Described Versions.” Zeitschrift für Translationswissenschaft und Fachkommunikation 8 (2): 446-464.


RA3: Live-Subtitling: Respeaking and Speech-to-Text Interpreting via Keyboard

WP1: An online survey with hearing-impaired and deaf people was designed and conducted in German-speaking Switzerland (Jekat and Lintner 2018). Further data on the structures of information transfer in Live-Subtitling were also collected in French-speaking Switzerland and compared to Live-Subtitling in German-speaking Switzerland (cf. Scherrer and Lehner 2017).

Additionally, Live-Subtitling for sign language users with sign language as their first language (L1) was assessed via an online survey with the target group. Results suggest that:

a) professional sign language interpreters best provide access to and exchange of information with people who have no knowledge of sign language as they interpret in both directions (sign to spoken, spoken to sign).

b) reading live subtitles can be a barrier for the target group, since transcribed spoken language entails both a change of mode (from spoken to written) and, frequently, a change of language (from L1 sign language to L2 spoken language);

c) when Speech-to-Text Interpreting is provided via keyboard, sign language users would need additional speed writing skills during conversations (e.g. in a classroom setting) whenever they wish to ask or answer a question.

WP2: Sample studies on the production of live subtitles via either Speech-to-Text Systems (i.e. through Respeaking with FAB Subtitler Live) or via keyboard (with Text-on-Top) were carried out. The aim of these studies was, on the one hand, to assess which method is better suited for university teaching; on the other hand, to establish how existing software can support Live-Subtitling. Results revealed differences as well as similarities between the two methods. For instance, both methods can be applied remotely via video conferencing software. In this case, speakers in a classroom setting can be subtitled, provided they are connected to an appropriate microphone, i.e. spontaneous questions or comments would be missed by hearing impaired students.


  • Hartmann, Seraina, and Melanie Holenweger. “Sprachliche Phänomene in der deutschen Standardsprache bei Gehörlosen. Eine Untersuchung struktureller Unterschiede zwischen der deutschen Gebärdensprache und der deutschen Standardsprache am Beispiel von Blogbeiträgen, geschrieben von Gehörlosen.” Bachelor’s thesis, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), 2017 [Supervision: Susanne J. Jekat].
  • Jekat, Susanne J., and Alexa Lintner. 2018. “Forschungsbericht Barrierefreie Kommunikation.” ZHAW: Winterthur.
  • Jekat, Susanne J., and Lilian Dutoit. 2014. “Evaluation of live-subtitles.” In Subtitling and Intercultural Communication European Languages and Beyond, edited by Beatrice Garzelli and Michaela Baldo, 329-339. Pisa: ETS Verlag.
  • Jekat, Susanne J. 2014. “Respeaking: Syntaktische Aspekte des Transfers von gesprochener Sprache in geschriebene Sprache.” In Sprache barrierefrei gestalten: Perspektiven aus der Angewandten Linguistik, edited by Susanne J. Jekat, Heike Elisabeth Jüngst, Klaus Schubert and Claudia Villiger, 87-108. Berlin: Frank & Timme.
  • Scherrer, Corinne, and Andrea Lehner. “Respeaking Löschung, Einfügung und Ersetzung in deutsch- und französischsprachigen Live-Untertiteln. Vergleich einer Sendung auf SRF und RTS.” Bachelor’s thesis, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), 2017 [Supervision: Susanne J. Jekat].

RA4: Easy-to-Read and Plain Language

WP1: The communication needs of younger and older people with temporary cognitive impairments were assessed through an online questionnaire. Six case studies were considered: temporary cognitive impairment a) due to multiple sclerosis, b) due to Crohn’s disease, c) due to stroke, d) latent cognitive impairment, e) very low knowledge of the local language. People without cognitive impairments were tested against their ability to focus attention on one specific visual or textual stimulus.

Furthermore, several corpus analyses were conducted to:

a) investigate information loss in the simplified versions of the party programmes of the German federal elections (Jekat, Germann, Lintner & Soland 2017; Krähenbühl 2018);

b) assess the application of Easy-to-Read guidelines in texts of a political nature (D’Agostino, Lintner & Soland 2016; Schüpbach 2017);

c) compare news articles in Easy-to-Read, Plain and Citizen-oriented Language (Schüpbach 2017);

d) evaluate the comprehensibility of texts in Easy-to-Read Language for L2 speakers of German at the language levels A1, A2 and B1 (Wohlgensinger 2017);

e) investigate the image-text relationship in Easy-to-Read texts (Parli and Schmid 2017);

f) analyse the loss of information during the translation of medical texts into Easy-to-Read Language (Parli and Schmid 2017; Nüssli 2018);

g) investigate the representation of the concept “Easy-to-Read Language” in the Swiss-German press (D’Agostino 2018).

WP2: The latest technology developments were reviewed to evaluate assistive software for the creation of texts in Easy-to-Read, Plain and Citizen-oriented Language (i.e. Acrolinx, and various computer-aided translation systems: Trados, Across, Star Transit; Mind Reader).


  • Calzado, Maura, and Jennifer Steffen. “Die Bedeutung des Gütesiegels von Inclusion Europe.” Bachelor’s thesis, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), 2016 [Supervision: Susanne J. Jekat].
  • D’Agostino, Dario. “Der Deutschschweizer Mediendiskurs um die Leichte Sprache. Eine linguistische Diskursanalyse.” Master’s thesis, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), 2018 [Supervision: Susanne J. Jekat].
  • D’Agostino, Dario, Alexa Lintner, and Corinne Soland. “Gendergerechtes Schreiben im Kontext der Leichten Sprache.” Bachelor’s thesis, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), 2016 [Supervision: Susanne J. Jekat].
  • Jekat, Susanne J., Esther Germann, Alexa Lintner, and Corinne Soland. 2017. “Parteiprogramme in Leichter Sprache: Eine korpuslinguistische Annäherung.” In “Leichte Sprache” im Spiegel theoretischer und angewandter Forschung, edited by Ulla Fix, Bettina Bock and Daisy Lange, 229-246. Berlin: Frank & Timme.
  • Krähenbühl, Maria. “Informationsveränderung durch Übersetzung aus Standard- in Leichte Sprache. Eine quantitative und qualitative Analyse von Bundestagswahlprogrammen am Beispiel Flüchtlingspolitik.” Master’s thesis, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), 2018 [Supervision: Susanne J. Jekat].
  • Nüssli, Nathalie Dominique. “Übersetzen in die Leichte Sprache: Übersetzungsprobleme, Übersetzungslösungen und Auswirkungen auf das Textverständnis von Menschen mit Downsyndrom. Eine qualitative Analyse am Beispiel von Texten zum Thema Gesundheit.” Master’s thesis, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), 2018 [Supervision: Susanne J. Jekat].
  • Parli, Michelle, and Janine Schmid. “Alles klar? Informationsverluste in Texten in Leichter Sprache zum Thema Schwangerschaft.” Bachelor’s thesis, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), 2017 [Supervision: Susanne J. Jekat].
  • Schüpbach, Alex. “Verständlichkeit von Abstimmungsunterlagen. Ein Vergleich der Erläuterungen des Bundesrates und der easy-vote-Abstimmungshilfe mit dem Kontinuum Leichte Sprache – Einfache Sprache – Bürgernahe Sprache.” Master’s thesis, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), 2017 [Supervision: Susanne J. Jekat].
  • Wohlgensinger, Céline. “Wie leicht ist Leichte Sprache? Eine Masterarbeit über das Verständnis von Texten in Leichter Sprache für L2-SprecherInnen des Deutschen auf den Sprachniveaus A1, A2, und B2.” Master’s thesis, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), 2017 [Supervision: Susanne J. Jekat].