The Dotted Word - My Take by Upasana Makati
Upasana Makati is the founder-editor of White Print, India's first English lifestyle magazine in Braille. The magazine aims to bring mainstream topics of lifestyle, entertainment and politics to the visually impaired. To subscribe to White Print, click here.
I wake up in the morning, and while the tea brews on the stove, I rush to open the door and pick up the newspaper that the delivery boy would have placed in the lean space between the rods of the front door.
I open the window, offer my gratitude to the universe, and its time to read the newspaper and indulge in an engaging conversation with my husband.
Lack of popular reading material in Braille was the trigger
As I reflect upon the day, a thought about what the visually impaired start their day with struck my mind. I immediately picked up the phone, made a few calls, shared my curious questions with a bunch of friends and decided to make a visit to the National Association for the Blind.
I learnt about the newsletters circulated in Braille and was informed about the absence of magazine or newspapers in the script. I began conducting online and offline research with the help of the NGO.
"Within three months, I quit my job and dedicated myself to bringing out a magazine in Braille. Fast forward to eight months and White Print – India’s First English Lifestyle Magazine was born".
The magazine has articles about travel, technology, music, politics, general knowledge, food, inspiring stories of the common man and a reader’s column too.
White Print is a for profit organization with advertising revenue being the primary source of revenue. Vodafone, Coca-Cola India, Mahindra and Mahindra, Aircel, Tata Group, Yash Raj Studios, among others have associated with the magazine and experimented with text and audio based ads.
Having said that, it is indeed a challenge to convince corporates to explore Braille advertising and communicate directly to the community.
In December 2016, we launched Tactabet, a Braille tactile alphabet book in English and Hindi. The book is carefully created with Poly-Braille technology that facilitates the permanent nature of the Braille dots and tactile outlines, something that is a point of concern in the country.
I remember visiting a bookstore in Mumbai and requesting them to display both Tactabet and White Print. I was very positive that the management would welcome the idea of introducing something new. To my surprise, the response was negative. When I convinced him to give me a reason, he said that I was better off giving the books to a blind school where, according to him I would 'find' visually impaired people.
Aim to make Braille literature popular across India
We aspire to inspire each and every library, bookstore, airline, restaurant, café, theatre, shopping mall to have Braille books/magazines just like they stock reading options for the sighted. Inclusion in all forms and faces – our dream! Well, my mailbox shows a subscription request from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta. Thank you, Universe!