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Literacy for a Billion in India!

by PlanetRead
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Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!

Dear Friends, 

Hope you're all healthy and safe. 

I am delighted to let you know that Stanford Social Innovation Review has featured a story on Same Language Subtitling (SLS), titled "Lifelong Reading for a Billion People". 

Same language subtitling (SLS) on India’s major TV channels went from concept in 1996 to national broadcast policy in 2019. This is the story of how we did it. 

Here's an excerpt from the article: 

Spanish filmmaker Almodóvar could not have imagined that his zany film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown would have anything to do with a billion people reading in India. But in 1996, when four graduate students watched his Oscar-nominated Spanish film huddled in a small apartment in Ithaca, New York, one of them (coauthor Dr. Kothari) commented that he wished the English subtitles were actually in Spanish—not a translation, but a transliteration of the audio. That would have enabled them to follow the original dialogue better while remaining immersed in a language they were learning. Then he extended the idea in jest: If they subtitled Bollywood films in Hindi, maybe India would become literate.

“You might be onto something,” a friend chimed in. It was just the intuitive affirmation Kothari needed. Over the next couple of weeks, he conducted an extensive literature search on subtitles. He found many papers on the benefits of translation subtitles for language learning and of closed-captioning (CC) for media access among the deaf and hard of hearing. But he also encountered a baffling dearth of research on subtitles for reading skills.

The idle joke about Hindi subtitles on Hindi films began morphing into a possible research topic. The idea of subtitles in the same language as the audio went (and still goes) by monikers like “bimodal subtitling.” To focus on the need for audio and subtitles to be in the same language, for reading literacy, Kothari coined the term “Same Language Subtitling.” The same year, he transitioned to a faculty position at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), and initiated the SLS project, purely as academic research.

Twenty-three years later, on September 11, 2019, India’s union minister of information and broadcasting announced a set of Accessibility Standards that require all major TV channels—India has more than 900—to caption at least one program per week in 2019 and ramp up captioning to 50 percent of all TV programming by 2025. The language of captioning, according to the standards, “shall be the language of the content,” or what we called SLS back in 1996.

To read the entire article, please visit: https://ssir.org/articles/entry/lifelong_reading_for_a_billion_people?

Thank you for all the support, 

Parthibhan

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Dear Friends, 

We are excited to let you know that our Founder & Director, Dr. Brij Kothari has been invited to speak at India Conference, which will be held at Harvard next month on 15-16, February 2020. 

The India Conference is one of the largest student-run conferences focusing on India in the USA. It is hosted at the Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School by the graduate students of Harvard University. This year marks the 17th anniversary of this event. 

The conference will bring together business leaders, entertainment professionals, government officials, philanthropists, and many other leaders to engage in a conversation about India's path to global leadership. Our 2019 conference had 1000+ attendees and was a resounding success.

Brij Kothari will be speaking on 16th February at Harvard Business School, in the session titled Technology & Education from 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM. 

For more information visit: 

Conference information: https://indiaconference.com/

Brij Kothar's profile: https://indiaconference.com/Speakers/Details.php?xcd=MTMx

 

Best wishes, 

PlanetRead Team 

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Woman watching SLS program in rural India
Woman watching SLS program in rural India

Last month on 8th September 2019, PlanetRead turned 15. We started with Same Language Subtitling (SLS) in 1996 as a small research project Indian Institute of Management (IIM-A) in Ahmedabad, India. Since then, SLS has given reading practice to up to 200 million people per week. Independent studies have shown that regular exposure to SLS for just 30 mins per week can make a person functionally literate. To know more visit: https://www.planetread.org/slsgroup

3 days after our anniversary, on 11th September 2019, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) in India mandated captioning for TV programming in order to make it accessible to the Deaf or Hard of Hearing population.

Read more about MIB's mandate here: https://www.livemint.com/industry/media/i-b-ministry-announces-accessibility-standards-for-the-hearing-impaired-1568210103296.html 

To commemorate this announcement by MIB, which marked a very important milestone in our journey our Founder, Dr. Brij Kothari has written an op-ed in The Hindu, a well-respected and popular newspaper in India. 

Here's an excerpt from this op-ed: 

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) recently mandated captioning for TV programming in order to make it accessible to the Deaf or Hard of Hearing population. The decision comes nearly four decades after the United States first implemented captioning for the same purpose. India’s phase-wise implementation plan requires all 800 plus channels to start this on at least one programme a week, beginning August 15, 2019, Independence Day. By 2020, 10% of all programming must have captions; the figure is to grow by 10% every year, covering up to 50% of all programming by 2025. 

The policy impetus for this decision is rooted in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 which made “sub-titles” on TV a right. The major challenge for the Ministry now is to ensure compliance by all channels, state and private, as set in the time table. 

Captioning on TV for the aurally-challenged is not new. Many countries have followed the U.S.’s lead. Still, India’s foray into TV captioning is significant for two reasons. It is one of the first major countries in the Global South to embrace captioning for media access, Brazil being the other one. But India is the first country where the importance of captioning, or Same Language Subtitling (SLS) has been established for mass reading literacy. 

To read the rest of the article, please visit: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-larger-picture-about-inclusive-programming/article29385941.ece 

The policy mandated by MIB marks a crucial point in our journey. We are currently looking for support to run the SLS program not only for providing reading practice to millions but also to set an industry benchmark for quality subtitling, which we have researched and implemented for over 20 years.

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Children watching an AniBook
Children watching an AniBook

Dear Friends,

We are happy to announce that Oracle has extended its support for the production of AniBooks i.e. animated stories powered by Same Language Subtitling (SLS).

Last year with Oracle’s support, we produced the following 5 AniBooks in English and Hindi: 

  1. A Cloud of Trash
  2. The Monk's New Shawl
  3. Pishi Caught in a Storm
  4. Rain Rain
  5. Did and the Colorful Treasure

Watch all five English AniBooks here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5-Zg1SrGII&list=PLPDzF0B97OtFboNoA4HxKsv0G5n6MXtHf

Watch them in Hindi here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7141x157Uw&list=PL_YQntlygLzYdYzXdx8lOy1Ljff7qwgRz

We have partnered with BookBox, a social enterprise born out of PlanetRead’s SLS innovation. BookBox has been creating AniBooks with SLS and is using its YouTube channel to promote reading. All AniBooks are all available free on BookBox’s YouTube channel, which has over 100 million views and more than 500K subscribers.

AniBooks are platform agnostic and available in the form of CDs, DVDs, internet downloads, mobile Apps and videos that can be played on TVs too. Usually produced in English the first time, they can be easily converted into any language. They currently available in a mix of over 45 languages (15+ Indian and 30+ international).

Currently, we are in the process of identifying the stories that we will be taking up for this project. The next phase will involve the main production stage i.e. artwork creation, animation, music composition, narration and addition of SLS. The final phase of the project will be to make all AniBooks available on YouTube and distribute them via other educational programs run by other ed-tech companies.

For more information about PlanetRead’s work:

President Bill Clinton speaks about PlanetRead: http://tinyurl.com/39epgrm

Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster: http://youtu.be/K7XDMzsLd5o 

Coverage by SBS Dateline, Australia https://youtu.be/tOsWToI2PIw

Visit http://www.planetread.org

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Eye tracking of woman watching video with SLS
Eye tracking of woman watching video with SLS

Dear Friends,

Here is an update on the eye tracking project that we are working on. 

Project Summary: Same Language Subtitling (SLS) is the idea of subtitling audio-visual content in the “same” language and script as the audio. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOsWToI2PIw.   

Several studies have found that regular viewing of existing film songs on TV, with SLS, results in reading skill improvement. In 2-3 years of frequent exposure, an early-literate who cannot yet read, transitions subconsciously to functional reading ability because the brain cannot but try and match sound and text that is in perfect synchronization. Bill Clinton called SLS “a small change that has a staggering impact on people’s lives.” See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juZOlmf9APk. 

The research questions we would like to explore with early-readers are: How much reading along occurs with SLS on film songs? Does that depend on reading ability and/or prior knowledge of the song/lyrics? 

We are hopeful of answering the above questions by doing a thorough eye tracking study. 

Project Goals: In 2 different low-literacy regions/languages (e.g., Hindi and Telugu), we will identify 100 early-literate and out-of-school people per state (half male and half female). Early-literates are defined as people who self-report as “literate” but who cannot read a simple Grade 2 level text, with a minimum level of fluency. 

Show each of the 200 early-literates, two different content genres: 1) 4 film songs in their language of literacy, with and without SLS, and 2) a 5-minute film clip of dialog, with and without SLS. Two of the songs will be well-known to the subject and two, not. All the sessions will be eye-tracked using a table-top eye-tracker like Gazepoint. 

To determine the quantum of reading due to SLS, our analysis will compare for both content genres, the number of eye-fixations and time spent in the subtitle band, with and without SLS. 

For 20 subjects representing the diversity of our sample, we will create a video capturing their eye-tracking, like we did in the Rajasthan study: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QuJKet4SPw&feature=youtu.be. 

The first phase of this project was recently conducted in Rajasthan where we conducted the eye tracking study on 150+ weak readers. We are now in the process of analyzing the data. A detailed report will soon be available.

Here are some small video clips of the eye tracking study: 

Reading assessment test: https://youtu.be/Cx17F0wd9dI 
Girl watching video with SLS: https://youtu.be/dqYbsYHO1T8
Man watching video with SLS https://youtu.be/vAJ2xiQUKPc
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Organization Information

PlanetRead

Location: Pondicherry - India
Website:
Project Leader:
Brij Kothari
Founder and President
Piedmont, CA United States
$3,119 raised of $50,000 goal
 
62 donations
$46,881 to go
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