One of the simplest things you can do to improve your child’s reading skills is already in your home. Closed captioning is free, easy to use, and a natural literacy booster. Research shows that closed captioning increases literacy skills in people of all ages. Simply having the captions on can dramatically improve vocabulary, word recognition, comprehension, and reading .

Closed Captioning supports literacy for all.

by Lauri Swann Hunt

Research shows that captioned media increases literacy skills in people of all ages. TURN ON THE CAPTIONS TODAY. Ollibean


Turn on the closed captioning in your home; on your tvs, ipads, phones, and computers.

Many people think closed captions are only beneficial for deaf and hard of hearing people. And, yes, Closed Captioning (CC) was designed to make television and media accessible for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. But, like most technology originally developed for accessibility –  the touchscreens on our phones and tablets, audiobooks, the telephone, curb cuts, to name a few – Closed Captioning benefits each of us.

Research shows that captioned media increases literacy skills in people of all ages. Simply having the captions on for dramatically improves vocabulary, word recognition, comprehension, and reading .

I love closed captioning.

We’ve seen the benefits of using CC in our own home. We started using closed captioning when our son Henry was young and now I can’t imagine watching a program without them .

Educators like Dr. Robert Keith Collins have studied the benefits of captions in the classroom Closed Captioning Helps All Students .

Websites like Captions for Literacy have great tips for using closed captioning, research studies to support its efficacy, as well as links to educational videos with described and captioned media .

Closed Captioning supports literacy for all.

Planet Read has used Same Language Subtitling (SLS) to increase literacy since 1999 by using Bollywood music videos. The videos are popular, fun, highly motivating,free and accessible. What an easy way to foster organic improvement of literacy skills for everyone and ensure that everyone has access to the videos content.  PlanetRead, 2013 recipient of a prestigious Library of Congress Literacy Award, has extensive documentation on the profound impact of SLS on increasing literacy rates in India .

Brij Kothari is co-founder of PlanetRead and  BookBox, a social enterprise that innovated the concept of “AniBooks” or animated books to support emergent literacy and language skills for the masses. Check out the BookBox App here.

Think about the possibilities for literacy rates.

In National Geographic’s article “Let a Billion Readers Bloom: How Bollywood Teaches Literacy in India” Kothari describes the science behind SLS:

SLS switches on lifelong and inescapable reading practice for millions of television viewers. The science underlying SLS is strong. Eye-tracking research from around the world has established that SLS causes an automatic and inescapable read-along response. Early-readers when exposed to SLS, try to read along, and in the process, find their reading skills improving. As viewers like to sing along to songs and are curious to know the song lyrics, reading skills are practiced subconsciously. Typically, a weak-reader faces a high motivational barrier to keep on reading when confronted with print. In the context of songs – marked by repetition, lyrics that can be anticipated, and subtitles that are sounded in the audio – the entry barrier to reading practice is significantly lowered.

It’s never too early or too late to start improving literacy skills.

Data from PlanetRead has shown that even 30 minutes of weekly SLS exposure over 3-5 years, enables adults and children with basic familiarity of the alphabet to become functionally literate.

The impact of including captioning in all media dramatically increases literacy skills in all areas for people of all ages.

TURN on the captions.


Additional Research on Benefits of Closed Captioning / Same Language Subtitles

Published by Department of Education (2013)

Join us for a 30 day ‘Turn on the Captions Challenge’ and let us know how it goes.