Representing Visual Foreshadowing in Audio Description

  • Emma Andrews

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis is concerned with the way in which audio description for blind and partially sighted individuals represents instances of visual foreshadowing. Audio description is
relatively under-researched, particularly when compared with other media accessibility options such as subtitling, and so this thesis represents further work in a still developing area of research.

By analysing six separate examples of foreshadowing events, this thesis found that audio description often relies on the successful deployment of foreshadowing across multiple
modes in order to effectively represent foreshadowing in the audio description track. The case studies represented a mixture of genres and included examples of both fictional and nonfictional telecinematic programming. The case studies also represent a mixture of event foreshadowing, which directly ties the foreshadowing to a specific occurrence within the narrative, and character foreshadowing which allows audiences to make observations and inferences about the role and function of individual characters.

This work found that there had been little existing consideration for foreshadowing in audio description both on the part of academics studying audiovisual translation, and within the guidance directly provided to audio describers. Previous work relating to foreshadowing is concerned primarily with twist endings or mysteries, particularly those with buried information. This thesis argues that foreshadowing can also occur as a result of foregrounding as well, and that less attention has been paid to this particular approach. The case studies examined show a variety of techniques, with some deployed more successfully than others, as well as providing a good overview of the different restrictions and difficulties faced by audio describers.

Whilst current audio description guidelines are adequate, more work is required to marry the developing academic research with the actual implementation of such features by audio description providers, This thesis recommends further research and collaboration in this area that in order to develop better, codified guidance with real consideration for stylistic features.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDaniel McIntyre (Main Supervisor)

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