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.