English Lifestyle magazine in Braille opens window to the world
Did you know White Print is a lifestyle magazine in Braille? It was launched by Upasana Makati exclusively for the visually impaired to help them get a taste of life and experiences they are otherwise deprived of. Four years down the line, Upasana feels it was one of the best decisions of her life to launch this magazine.
Why do you think Braille Literacy is important?
Just as reading and writing are crucial to most aspects of a sighted person's life, knowing Braille is a symbol of empowerment for the visually impaired. It enables a person to be able to read without being dependent on anyone. Reading independently is liberating and I think Braille literacy lets the visually impaired person enjoy this feeling.
White Print, first English lifestyle magazine in Braille, couldn't have been an easy decision? How did it come about?
It took me three months to quit my job and commit myself fully to White Print. It was a big decision of my life but certainly not a tough one. I was so convinced that the country needed a Braille magazine that nothing would stop me from working towards that goal. Almost four years in the business and I can easily say it was one of the best decisions of my life.
What are the other Braille resources available today in India?
National Association for the Blind has books available for the community. There are newsletters that are printed by them too. Reliance has a Hindi newsletter, Reliance Drishti, as a part of their CSR project.
Share with us some of the best responses and reactions from your audience?
Reader responses are truly motivating when the journey seems tough at some points. Some that have stayed with us are "White Print is our window to the world", "In 52 years of being Blind, no one has done what you have done for us", "White Print makes me feel empowered when I am able to share information that my family has not heard of , before this I was usually a quiet listener".
What were the major stumbling blocks?
The challenges started the day I decided to quit my job and give birth to White Print. But yes, our major challenge has been convincing corporates to advertise with us. We are not a charity venture and we have given the advertising world a whole new way of communicating directly to the visually impaired community. It has been interesting to get brands on board for this and we are sure this will ensure a slow but sure change in perceptions that are usually attached with this community.
Who are the people and organisations who played the biggest roles in your venture?
I think at every point in our journey there have been angels who've silently come and pushed us forward. National Association for the Blind in Mumbai where we print the magazine has certainly played a very important role in these past four years. The expertise, the technical knowhow and other inputs from the team have been truly invaluable.
Apart from that, we've been truly lucky to be backed by friends, family and 'angels' that the universe unknowingly directs towards us who keep walking with us all the way through.
How do you select the stories for the community? Any particular things you need to keep in mind?
There was once a reader who helped me solve my query about the kind of stories that we should include in the magazine. She told me, " I might not be able to experience a lot of things in life. You must include everything in the magazine that I might not able to see and experience ever". After that, we've included content about each and every topic under the sun, be it entertainment, technology, travel, culture, art, short stories, politics or anything that catches my attention.
Where do you want to go from here?
We want to take White Print and all our extensions to each corner of the country. Apart from that, we want to encourage the corporate world as well as the government to collaborate with us and help us take a few leaps in creating an inclusive society. There is a lot that we need to do in this direction.
Tell us about your other initiatives and why you think they are important.
We have recently released a one of its Tactile - Braille Alphabet book in both Hindi and English - Tactabet. The book enables visually impaired as well as kids with low vision, to feel the shape of the object associated with each alphabet. Most importantly, we use the poly Braille technology that facilitates its permanent nature. The illustrations are made keeping in mind the tactile element which is the USP of the book. Tactabet is our first step in our larger mission to see more Braille books and learning resources for the community. When we talk about inclusion, these are important facets that need attention and we believe that each step in this direction is extremely important. For more information, please visit www.whiteprint.in