This year’s Republic Day telecast may include simultaneous sign language interpretation, according to Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari.

Mr. Tewari told this to a delegation of activists belonging to the Disabled Rights Group (DRG) during a meeting here on Friday. The move follows the personal intervention of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi after a meeting with disability activists on Thursday.

“The Minister was very positive and has given his assurance on the issue,” said Javed Abidi, convener of DRG. He, however, added that while the Ministry was planning to have sign language interpretation only on DD News, activists wanted it on DD National as well.

According to the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), more than 18 million people will benefit from sign language interpretation. “Although several countries have closed captioning of television programming and sign language interpretation of all important broadcasts such as statements by heads of State, parliamentarians, important announcements and others, India is yet to take it up,” said A.S. Narayanan, secretary of NAD.

The members of the delegation which called upon Mr. Tewari were: Javed Abidi (Convener, DRG), Neelam Jolly (VISHWAS), Zorin Singha and A.S. Narayanan (National Association of the Deaf). Also, present at the meeting were the Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Secretary of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

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