In The Media

The Turn on The Subtitles Campaign has hit national headlines and garnered the support of government, business, charity and academic leaders who recognise the incredible effects of same-language subtitling.

 

On Sunday 12th April 2020, The Guardian published a news article introducing the TOTS Campaign and what it was trying to achieve, alongside a letter in their commentary section. The letter was signed by over 30 former ministers, secretaries of state, civil servants, charity CEOs, business leaders and academics urging broadcasters to turn on their subtitles by default for children’s content.

Sunday 12th April 2020

Today, the vast majority of schools are closed and millions of children across the UK are being home-schooled for the first time. Across the planet, that number is approaching a billion. It is incumbent on all of us to do what we can to help them.

Extensive research from top academics in many countries has shown that simply turning on the subtitles for children’s television improves literacy. Dramatically. In fact it may double their chance of becoming a proficient reader, in particular those children between the ages of six and 10.

As former ministers, secretaries of state, civil servants, charity CEOs, business leaders and academics, we all now call on Sky, Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube Kids, ITV, Channel 5 and the BBC to all turn on the subtitles, by default, for children’s TV programmes. This needs to be done as a matter of urgency. This simple change will make the world of difference to millions of young people at this extremely challenging time. You can find out more at the website www.turnonthesubtitles.org.

Signed by,

Stephen Fry, Cressida Cowell, Baroness Floella Benjamin, Dr Ranj Singh, Zenna Hopson, Lord Storey, Lord Knight, Baroness Lane-Fox, Errol D’Souza, Prof Ralph Tabberer, Jonathan Douglas, Mike Dickson, Shuna Kennedy, Sir Michael Barber, Lord Foster, Prof Stephen Heppell, Dr Kate Cowan, Antonio Gould, Tom Hall, MT Rainey, Sir David Mellville, Benita Somerfield, Dr Brij Kothari, Jim Fruchterman, Robert Lynch, Deborah Nichols, Annika Small, Michael Acton Smith, Kate Robertson, Alok Singh, Sara Olsen, Scott Norton, Jonathan Seaton, David Angrave, Dame Julia Cleverdon, Baroness Helen Liddell, Oli Barrett, Henry Warren, Steve Haines, Brett Wigdortz, David Wood, Alex Smith, Paul Lindley, Bob Carolgees, Prof Alison Baverstock, Ravi Gurumurthy, Su-Mei Thompson

The article can be found here:

Read my Lips: how lockdown TV could boost children’s literacy-12th April 2020

The letter can be found here.

 

The Guardian’s article was followed up with similar stories in TES (formally the Times Education Supplement), Forbes and The Daily Mail.

 

Coronavirus: ‘Add TV subtitles to boost literacy’-12th April 2020

An Easy Way To Help Kids Learn At Home: Turn On The Captions-18th April 2020

Calls for children’s TV to turn on the subtitles in a bid to raise literacy levels among youngsters missing school due to coronavirus quarantine-12th April 2020

In June 2020 Wildbrain, the Canadian media production company who are the largest independent independent owner of children’s programming globally, announced that their digital division, Wildbrain Spark, would be a launching a YouTube channel dedicated to subtitled programme.

You can find out more here.

 

The TOTS campaign has also received coverage in 2019 from The Times and The Guardian.

Subtitles on children’s TV boost reading skills-27th May 2019 in The Times

Lights, camera, caption! Why subtitles are no longer just for the hard of hearing-21st July 2019 in the Guardian.