An urge to do something unique led a young entrepreneur to come up with India‘s first English lifestyle magazine in Braille.
Our country is home to 12 million visually impaired people, of which 56 lakh are literate. Yet, there is no leisure reading option for them â€” all they have are audio books, screenreading software or radio for knowledge and recreation. In a bid to reach out to the visually impaired population of India, Upasana Makati decided to launch White Print, an English lifestyle magazine in Braille. The monthly made its debut this May.
The 24-year-old former PR professional talks about her vision for the visually impaired and how she took up the challenge of understanding their world.
Experts from the interview….
How did you come up with the idea of having a magazine for the visually impaired community of our country?
Such a magazine was long overdue. I still wonder why no one came forward with something like this before. Just as we like reading lifestyle magazines to break the monotony of our daily routine, visually impaired people too take pleasure in the same. Moreover, in today’s world, being in the loop about the latest happenings is essential for every individual. It is disheartening to see that the visually impaired have to depend on the radio or screen reading softwares for a basic piece of information. Just as we savour our first cup of chai every morning while reading a newspaper or magazine, they must have the option too. I realised that while there are at least 50 different publications for the sighted population, there wasn’t a single one for those without eyesight.
Secondly, entrepreneurship has always been an element of my personality. So, I decided to start a magazine in Braille and shared the idea with my friends. I quit my job to commit myself completely to the Braille magazine which, I can proudly say, is my brainchild.
What makes you feel connected to the visually challenged?
When I started my research, I realised that these people are also gifted with vision, just like us. The only difference is that they communicate in a different language. Their enthusiasm, dedication and zeal for small things in life motivated me to take up this initiative. Moreover, there wasn’t much that could cater to their needs of leisurely reading and learning. I also realised that a magazine for the blind would keep them updated with the latest happenings as well as give them an opportunity to express their opinions.
What is the biggest challenge in running a publication in Braille?
The major challenge would be funds generated through ads. Since the magazine is priced only at 30, the production cost doesn’t get covered through this amount. In India, the trend of advertising in Braille hasn’t picked up yet. Since there is an absence of elaborate images, graphics, etc that enhances the look of the advertisement, the toughest test is to convey the message through words. I believe brands too will eventually step into this arena.
I did face a lot of hurdles initially. Firstly, there was a sense of apprehension as I was only 24 years old and the venture required a hefty financial backing. This raised questions on my credibility. It took me around eight months to finalise the title of the magazine. My application for the title was rejected twice and I finally got lucky in the third attempt. White Print is printed at the National Association for the Blind (NAB) in Mumbai.
Tell us something about the content…
The 64-pager lifestyle magazine comprises inspiring stories of the common man, review of audio books and gadgets, plus travel, hospitality and food-related columns. It will also cover trends in politics, art and culture from across the globe. Every month, short stories by young authors will be there to add a literary angle. There’s a reader’s contribution section too.They can express their views on anything that interests them. It is like any other magazine. We wish to tell the visually challenged that they are no different from us.