In a first in India, Zee has taken a strong content and technology initiative to make content on television accessible for the visually and hearing impaired. #ZEEForAll is an effort to provide audiences who have a sensory handicap, with unparalleled access to entertainment that is currently enjoyed by millions of Indians. This will be made available on the premiere of the hit film of last year, Aamir Khan's Dangal.
This year, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Zee covers 172 countries and entertains over 1 billion viewers, driven by its philosophy of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” – The world is my family. This Independence Day, August 15, at 12 noon, Zee will take this brand ethos a step ahead with the initiative of being the first broadcaster in the history of Indian television to deliver access services to its audiences with #ZEEForAll. Zee’s first Hindi movie channel ‘Zee Cinema SD’ will be the first Hindi movie channel in India to premiere Khan’s Dangal with audio description for visually impaired audiences. Director Nitesh Tiwari’s sports biographical drama will also have subtitles for the hearing impaired audiences.
As per the World Health Organisation 2010 Report, India accounts for 8 million blind, 54.5 million people with low vision and 62.6 million people with visual impairment – which makes India home to the second largest visually challenged population globally. The objective of #ZEEForAll is to ensure that the large population of the visually and hearing impaired receives access to entertainment.
Zee Cinema has also associated with National Association For The Blind (Mumbai, Indore, Chandigarh and Lucknow), National Association For The Blind – The Workshop for the Blind in Mumbai, Institution For The Blind in Delhi and Patiala School of Blind & Deaf in Punjab. To sensitise the visually impaired with the technology of audio description and to bring entertainment within their reach, Zee Cinema will host preview screenings with audio description and subtitles.
The audio description feed will be available on Dish TV, Videocon, Tata Sky and Airtel. The subtitles will be in English language on HD and in Hindi language on SD.
Punit Misra, CEO, Domestic Broadcast Business, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL), said “On India’s 70th Independence Day, Zee redefines the ‘freedom to see’ and offers all our audiences a superlative movie-watching experience in the comfort of their homes. Zee Cinema will be the first movie channel in India to premiere a film curated for the visually impaired. It will also have subtitles for the hearing impaired audiences. We hope that the premiere of Dangal reaches out to the maximum number of visually and hearing impaired audiences in India. We are also exploring adding audio description in other Indian regional languages in the future. Just like Aamir gave us the audio description assets for Dangal, we will reach out to all our content partners requesting for the same as we expand the initiative. #ZEEForAll will surely be a milestone in the history of TV broadcasting in India.”
Ruchir Tiwari, Business Head, Zee Hindi Movie Cluster, said, “Zee has many firsts in the industry right since its launch in 1992. ##ZEEForAll promises to be the most special in its journey of 25 glorious years. It’s wonderful to associate with Aamir Khan on this pioneering initiative with Dangal. I am personally very happy that Dangal has inspired our team to do what is needed to make the movie accessible to all our viewers.”
Speaking about Dangal’s premiere on television as the first film on television that is inclusive for the visually and hearing impaired audiences in India, Aamir Khan, said, “It is with great anticipation that I look forward to the television premiere of Dangal on August 15 on Zee Cinema SD. Zee is going the extra mile with its initiative #ZEEForAll that will get audiences with visual impairment to experience television like never before. I instantly agreed to the idea of premiering Dangal with audio description for the visually impaired and it’s a matter of absolute pride to associate with Zee on this Independence Day premiere of my film. Congratulations to Punit Goenka and team Zee!”
Audio description conveys the most important visual aspects of the story by providing commentary during natural pauses and moments of quiet. It is voice-over narration that explains what’s happening on the screen, including physical actions made by various characters and other important visual elements. The narration is inserted between lines of dialogue. This audio description is recorded and made available as a separate audio track that can be selected by the audience on their remote.