A lifestyle magazine in Braille opens a new window to blind people
A random thought in the middle of the night was the trigger for White Print, India's first lifestyle magazine in Braille.
"I love the newspaper for my daily dose of the news and the 10 minutes I spend on it are very precious to me", says Upasana Makati, founder-editor, White Print. "That got me curious about where the blind get their news from. I did some research and found nothing substantial. "
The idea became an obsession for Upasana and she decided to do some further research. A visit to the National Association of the Blind (NAB) threw up the realisation that apart from some bi-monthly newsletters, there was nothing else. "I was in a state of disbelief that in a digital age, the blind don't have access to something as basic as a newspaper".
She decided to do something about it and quit her job at a public relations agency to start a lifestyle magazine. The choice of a magazine was because she thought it would be easier to bring out.
"I also felt that it might interest everyone in the blind community. I decided White Print would not follow a structured approach in terms of content and instead the focus could be politics, lifestyle, anything so that way I would have a wide range to choose from." - Upasana Makati, White Print
Initially Upasana has to spend considerable time trying to understand how Braille world. For instance, a regular 30-word piece doubles up in Braille, so she realised she had to reduce the amount of content she was taking on. Printing in Braille is also very expensive so she spent some time to understand what kind of content blind readers were looking for.
Over the years the content has evolved to include quiz sections. "There were times when I would have to write the entire magazine. Now I have many more volunteers who send in their submissions. Sudha Murty gave us the rights to her short stories, which was a big thrill", says Upasana. White Print also has editorial tie ups with mainstream publications like Caravan and popular TV journalist, Barkha Dutt writes a column on politics.
A proofreader from the NAB helps with the magazine, which also prints it. The magazine is posted from the NAB itself as Braille posts are free.
At an annual subscription of Rs 300, the English monthly is the only one that opens a window for the blind into the world of art, films, lifestyle, food, and politics, one that is firmly closed to many in the community.
Krittika Janginmat, a student of music in Mysore, says she waits for the arrival of White Print in the post. She started subscribing to the magazine three years ago.
"I have a great craze for English language magazines and books. My favourite articles are those by Sudha Murty, and thanks to White Print, I have learned a lot," says Krittika.
Click below to read the other stories in The Power of Braille series: