Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], June 21: The Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF), 2024 is showcasing accessible audio-visual media for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) and the visually impaired. Several animated shorts are being shown with accessibility features like Same Language Subtitles (SLS), Indian Sign Language (ISL) and Audio Description (AD).

However, it would be a mistake to think that accessibility is confined to the hearing and visually impaired. PlanetRead’s Billion Readers (BIRD) initiative associated with IIT-Delhi and Toonz Media, one of India’s leading animation company based in Trivandrum have partnered to make the case that SLS on cartoons that children watch passionately across India, has the power to improve children’s reading skills at scale.

“Children’s brains are extremely adept at matching sound and text in the ‘same’ language, said Brij Kothari, Adjunct Professor at IIT-Delhi’s School of Public Policy who leads BIRD. “SLS on cartoons they watch anyway will give them automatic reading practice. There is strong evidence that their reading and language ability cannot but improve as a result.”

At MIFF, the animation show ‘Jay Jagannath’ created by ELE Animations and Toonz and running on Pogo TV is being showcased with SLS and AD in support of media accessibility, literacy, and Indian language promotion for all viewers.

Under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016 and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB)’s Accessibility Standards for TV, 2019, media accessibility is stipulated on half of all entertainment content on TV by 2025.

Toonz CEO, P. Jayakumar said, “This is not just about compliance. We see in SLS the potential to leverage our large library of quality animation for children’s wholesome entertainment and education in all Indian languages.”

The 200 million children in India’s primary schools who watch cartoons with a passion in their language(s) may soon be able to find their reading skills improving without even realizing it.

About Toonz Media Group 

Toonz is a 360-degree media powerhouse with over two decades of unparalleled experience and one of the world’s most active animation production studios (over 10,000 minutes of 2D and CGI kids and family content per year). Toonz has to its credit several animations and live-action series, as well as feature films including Wolverine and the X-Men with Marvel, Speed Racer: The Next Generation with Lionsgate, Mostly Ghostly with Universal, Gummy Bear and Friends, and more. Toonz has also ventured into emerging technologies like AR, VR, and Gaming.


About Billion Readers (BIRD)

The Billion Readers (BIRD) initiative led by PlanetRead and associated with IIT-Delhi aims to ensure daily and lifelong reading practice for a billion people in India. This goal is being achieved by adding Same Language Subtitling (SLS) on mainstream entertainment content on television, films and streaming platforms to serve one vision: Every Indian, a fluent reader. 

SLS is the idea of subtitles audio-visual (AV) content in the ‘same’ language as the audio. With SLS, viewers get to read what they see and hear on the screen on all popularly watched entertainment. BIRD is a systems change initiative supported by Co-Impact, aiming to integrate SLS into all entertainment video content, in all Indian languages, for literacy, language learning and media access.


Contact: Mr. Parthibhan Amudhan parthibhan@planetread.org

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