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Literacy for a Billion in India!

by PlanetRead
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!
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.

Links:

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

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
Viewing content with same-language subtitles
Viewing content with same-language subtitles

Facebook Research recently announced the winners of their Global Literacy & Accessibility Challenge, and one of the four winners is PlanetRead founder Brij Kothari's proposal, "Eye-tracking of Same Language Subtitling on Film Songs and Dialog." We are very grateful for this award, which will support PlanetRead's development of eye-tracking research on same-language subtitles for televised films and songs. 

As Facebook Research notes, the awards, given to PlanetRead's proposal and three other studies, will support "new and innovative research to understand and address global literacy and accessibility issues."          

Half a billion people in India are “early literates” whose quality of basic education and digital access is severely compromised. PlanetRead has been working to solve this problem with a well-researched solution that can potentially transition a majority of early literates to functional reading: same-language subtitling (SLS), which involves subtitling audio-visual content word for word, in the same language and script as the audio.

Studies have found that regular viewing of existing film songs on television with SLS results in reading skill improvement. Within two to three years of frequent exposure, without conscious effort, an early literate who can only make out letters can transition to a functional reading ability; the brain cannot help trying to match sounds with text that is perfectly synchronized.

Most of the existing research on subtitling relates to second-language learning and or media access, but only a handful of studies have explored subtitling’s links with basic reading and literacy. Thanks to the Facebook Research Award, PlanetRead will be able to add to studies measuring the effectiveness of SLS.

PlanetRead will explore the following research questions: How much reading along occurs with SLS on film songs and film dialog? Does reading along depend on the person's existing reading ability and/or prior knowledge of the song lyrics or dialogue? We propose to use eye-tracking software to measure the viewing of film songs and dialogue by 200 early literates. To determine the quantum of reading caused by SLS, the same content will be shown with and without SLS.

According to Facebook Research, findings from all four award recipients' studies will be presented in California later this year and "will be shared publicly with the research community." We look forward to sharing our findings with our supporters as well. 

Links:

Studies showed that children read along with SLS
Studies showed that children read along with SLS

PlanetRead founder Brij Kothari was recently featured in the Harvard Economics Review blog with a post about two studies measuring the efficacy of same-language subtitles (SLS) to improve reading ability in Indian schools.

"The Reading Revolution Will Be Televised" describes one study measuring whether children pay attention to SLS when subtitles appear on animated stories ("AniBooks" created by PlanetRead's sister company BookBox) and a second study investigating whether the addition of SLS leads to improved reading ability.

As the post describes, thanks to the 2009 Right to Education Act, India has been extremely successful in getting school-age children into classrooms, but far less successful in teaching them to read in those classrooms. Kothari estimates that half of the children in grades 1-5 are falling behind in reading and are likely to remain functionally illiterate—unable to read at a second-grade level or better—unless action is taken to help them. 

PlanetRead's first study, supported by USAID and Tata Trust, followed children at a government school in Rajasthan. Using eye-tracking, PlanetRead researchers found that even those children with the weakest reading skills were automatically drawn to reading along with SLS. The study demonstrates that adding SLS to children's cartoons on television could offer inescapable reading practice for the vast majority of India's children who watch children's television programs at home.

 The second study investigated whether reading along with SLS would result in improved reading skills. PlanetRead researchers worked with children at low-income schools in Delhi, with half the schools getting regular classroom exposure to AniBooks with SLS and half serving as a control group. As Kothari explains, "The AniBook intervention alone contributed an additional 70% of an entire school year’s achievement in reading score."

Read "The Reading Revolution Will Be Televised" for all the details of PlanetRead's ongoing research, and please consider supporting our work to advance the cause of same-language subtitling for literacy!

Links:

 

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Organization Information

PlanetRead

Location: Pondicherry - India
Website:
Project Leader:
Brij Kothari
Founder and President
Piedmont, CA United States
$3,014 raised of $50,000 goal
 
55 donations
$46,986 to go
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