The Indian YouTube community is growing by the day, with each day new and innovative channels coming up, but the NewzHook channel is truly different in many ways.
The fact that the videos of the channel can be viewed by those who are differently abled, with people giving the news through sign language and more is extremely interesting to see.
Often we see that news for the disabled is done but that news cannot be easily accessed by the differently abled, this can lead to the person feeling disconnected from the world and further creates a divide of ‘us’ and ‘them’.
That is what Newz Hook is trying to do away with by using Indian Sign Language (ISL) for the deaf and those who are Hearing Impaired.
How It Started?
Newz Hook is not just a YouTube channel, but also a website that brings inspiring and interesting news about differently abled people who have achieved something in life in an accessible format to their disabled readers.
As per them, their news is not only shared using ISL for the deaf and hearing impaired, but also using a screen reader available for the blind and visually impaired. It also shares new advancements that are being done in these fields for parents and educators to stay informed.
The platform was started by Shilpi Kapoor and is an initiative of her own organisation called BarrierBreak. The aim of Newz Hook is to use technology in a way that allows the differently abled to stay updated with what is happening around the world and encouraging stories.
While speaking to The Better India, Ramya Venkitesh of Newz Hook stated that,
“News is a way for people to get access to the happenings in the world. For people with disabilities access to news has been challenging. A person who is blind or has low vision finds it difficult to read the printed newspaper or get access to news online. For people with hearing impairment sign language is their first language. Similarly, for many people, English is the second language, and understanding news becomes difficult for them.”
The platform uses different formats for people with different disabilities in order to impart the news to them. ISL is used for those with hearing impairment while VoiceOver screen readers are used for those having visual impairment.
Screen readers is a software application that the blind use for their smartphones and computers as it reads out loud the text displayed on the screen.
Each article is also paired with a video where one of their ‘deaf reporters’ translates the news for the deaf using ISL.
The platform also has a feature of a high contrast view and the user can increase the text size which makes it easier for those with a partial visual disability or the elderly to read the news.
Till date, Newz Hook has won the Ascent Awards in 2017, NCPEDP-MphasiS Universal Design Awards, Indian ISV Awards in 2016 and the Zero Project Award in 2018 for their initiative.
Easy And Simple
The platform also has an app that the differently abled can access on their phones, and currently covers topics like business, entertainment, current affairs, sports, science, technology, health and more.
One thing that was extremely important for the founder and Newz Hook was the language of the news and that it be kept as simple and easy to understand as possible.
Shilpi Kapoor, the founder has stated to ETtech that, “While studying the news consumption pattern of the deaf, we found that most of them quit reading the article citing the use of complex words which they could not understand.”
The platform is run by just six people currently and of them 3 are their deaf reporters who are to interpret the news in sign language.
Now Newz Hook is planning to create a kind of dictionary that has words and phrases that the hearing impaired people use and will let the reporter take help from in case they are not sure of what word to use. Kapoor explains that, “One of the basic and essential features we are trying to build now is a sign language dictionary. The understanding of terminology in the news report is important.”
Along with that, Shai Venkatraman, content editor at Newz Hook added that, “A lot of people with vision and hearing impairment hesitate to go to banks. They do not know the schemes. They do not understand the words used. We will try to address these basic needs.”
Image Credits: Google Images