So what are you trying to achieve in this campaign and why?

We’re trying to do three things:

  1. Raise awareness amongst parents that turning on the subtitles for their children will improve their literacy, in many cases, dramatically.
  2. Encourage broadcasters and content providers to turn on the subtitles by default for TV programmes aimed exclusively at 6-10 age bracket.
  3. Lobbying politicians to write the use of ‘default-on’ subtitles on children’s TV into legislation.

What age range does this work for?

It’s actually less about age, rather the stage the child is at.

As soon as they can decode basic phonemes they will see a benefit. However, the real benefit starts when a child is a sufficiently competent reader that decoding is done subconsciously. In the UK and US this tends to be around the age of six to seven. The challenge is then about speed, vocabulary, confidence and comprehension. Same Language Subtitles has been proven to be remarkably effective at improving these skills.

Are you suggesting this is done for linear broadcast or video on demand?

We are suggesting we should start with VOD.

Are you suggesting they are on for all TV programmes?

No, just those aimed at children between the ages 6-10.

Are you suggesting they can never be turned off?

No, just that they are on by default. If viewers wish to turn them off and not see the benefits, that is, of course, their prerogative.

What about adding foreign language subtitles?

If you’re learning another language then yes, there’s evidence that suggests that adding subtitles in either your mother tongue or the language you’re trying to learn will have a positive impact.

Why not just tell people they can turn them on?

We’re doing that too.

To be blunt though, even the best awareness raising campaign often fails to reach the families that need it the most.

What evidence is there that this actually works?

See the research section of the website – there’s a lot

Do kids actually read subtitles?

Yes, several experiments have been done on this, including the use of eye-tracking software in India. Try it yourself, you’ll find it hard not to!

How difficult is it for broadcasters/content distributors to do this?

It varies by organisation. Mostly though this is not a technical issue, it’s an editorial one.

Are you suggesting I no longer need to read with my children?

Absolutely 100% not.

Subtitling is not a replacement to reading with your kids.

Are there any negative side effects to this?

In doing any such project, it’s incumbent on us to look carefully and be sure that first and foremost we’re doing no harm. We’ve consulted widely on this and so far we have found no detrimental effects to adding subtitles.

Where do I go if I need more information?

Email contact@us.turnonthesubtitles.org