2017 Arts and culture
What challenge was the inspiration for your project?
In Spain, there are more than 2 million people with a visual or hearing disability. How is somebody supposed to enjoy a film or television programme if they cannot hear or see? This realisation was the starting point for technological research performed at University Carlos III of Madrid.
WhatsCine is a technological company that was created in 2013 as a result of this research at an academic level, with the aim of providing everybody with the freedom of being able to enjoy the cinema and television, regardless of their abilities and promoting equal opportunities in terms of appreciating audiovisual content. Furthermore, this app allows for additional languages and original versions to be used, expanding the range of options and bringing audiovisual content to an even wider audience.
Enjoying leisure time boosts our health and well-being, in addition to our social and family lives. WhatsCine employs technology to ensure the accessibility of audiovisual content.
What was your innovation that addresses this problem?
WhatsCine offers the first and only technology in the entire world to date capable of bringing cultural content to people with audiovisual disabilities in an inclusive manner and without affecting other viewers.
It uses tailor-made software available in the form of an app for mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) that integrates three accessibility systems: audio description, subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and sign language interpretation so that the user can choose the mode that best suits his or her needs and enjoy a film at the cinema or television content in real time.
Visual accessibility is offered by means of audio description, through headphones owned by the user. This entails an audible description that provides blind users or those with low vision, with a description of the scenes, characters, shapes, colours, circumstances and details in a way that they can be included in dialogue and narration without interfering with the original audio.
In turn, hearing accessibility is offered via subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and sign language interpretation. Users with hearing disabilities can choose between either of the two options. Both are shown on the screen of the user’s smartphone or tablet, designed in such a way that people nearby are not affected.
The WhatsCine app is available for both iOS and Android, and is completely free of charge.
What impact has Triodos Bank had on your business?
WhatsCine has already adapted more than 600 films in Spain and 1,000 episodes of TV series and is preparing to launch in new markets, with a new office opening in Miami soon.
It is difficult to estimate the exact number of people that have benefited from the technology offered by WhatsCine, although the mobile app has been downloaded more than 50,000 times, and has a score of 4.3 out of 5. “It offers us the independence and normalisation we have always sought,” asserts one user. “Being able to enjoy a film at the cinema with my son and family is priceless,” states another.
What impact has your business had on the sector you work in?
WhatsCine has forged alliances in the private sector, creating a 360º circle of alliances with distributors, producers, cinema owners and television stations that offer inclusive, accessible and varied content to this audience in any place and at any time, which was unthinkable for people with audiovisual disabilities 4 years ago, all thanks to the hard work and efforts of WhatsCine.
According to WhatsCine’s developers, it is anticipated that in the future, agreements may be struck with public authorities and governments that set out regulations structured around the right of accessibility and inclusion of those with audiovisual disabilities.
What local impact has your business had on the community?
WhatsCine promotes inclusive and sustainable economic growth, providing employment to people with different abilities who generally experience more difficulties finding work or are at risk of exclusion. Thanks to WhatsCine, more than 40 jobs have been created in Spain, at the different associations and companies that produce the facilities and more quality jobs will be offered in the future.
How does Triodos Bank share your vision?
Triodos Bank shares the commitment to the social integration of people with disabilities, in addition to the opinion that culture and high-quality leisure should be accessible to everybody. WhatsCine offers a response both to the social aspect of offering support to people with disabilities and the cultural aspect, promoting universal access to audiovisual content, both at the cinema and via television, bringing audiovisual content to everybody.