With Braille business cards, BarrierBreak makes a case for workplace inclusion
In our series on The Power of Braille, we profile BarrierBreak, which prints business cards in Braille.
At any business meeting, the business card is a key statement that any potential client takes away. Adding Braille to it, is not just about helping a blind person see it but about creating awareness about how small, simple changes can make a change to the visually impaired.
Braille visiting cards make a statement supporting inclusion, diversity
Given how important networking is for the sighted and blind to secure employment, it is important that business cards can be read by those who can see and those who cannot.
For Shilpi Kapoor, founder of BarrierBreak, a company that works in the field of accessibility and assistive technology in India , it was a natural, inevitable step towards making everything inclusive. In 2009, when BarrierBreak started printing visiting cards in Braille, it was among the first few companies in India to do so.
"When I started BarrierBreak, the key to everything was that whatever we did had to be accessible", says Kapoor. "I met so many visually impaired people in the course of my work and it seemed like the right thing to do" - Shilpi Kapoor, Founder, BarrierBreak
Initially, though, it was laborious process with a low vision employee familiar with Braille manually printing every card. This took time, so a printing machine was purchased to make it faster. At Rs four lakh for one machine, it was a sizeable cost and Kapoor decided to actually create one that made the whole process quicker and affordable.
"I got someone to create a machine for us and the first version was like a hand-press machine", she recalls. 'We worked on it until we developed an improved version that could be used again and again for brailling".
The new version was a simple one where one can set whatever was needed in Braille and this was put into the machine that was hand-pressed.
The main challenge of brailling business cards is the small surface. Most cards are about two inches by three-and-a-half inches and can typically take about four lines of braille.
The idea is to have exactly that same effect as most visiting cards but with Braille on it. The cards printed at BarrierBreak achieve that by having the phone number embossed in Braille right on top so a blind person can access the information with ease and it conveys that touch of inclusion.
"This way when a blind person gets the card, he has the contact information he most needs available immediately. They don't need someone else who is sighted to go through the card and explain who they need to call. It makes them independent" - Amit Bagwe, â€ŽAccessibility & Assistive Technology Specialist, BarrierBreak
It may not seem like much to some, but a Braille visiting card is a significant step towards making communication inclusive and creating awareness about why accessibility matters, believes Kapoor."I believe that every card should be in Braille especially if you are a company that focuses on equal opportunity. I don't see why there needs to be a difference".
Over the years, more companies have come forward asking for business cards to be printed in Braille. Today, BarrierBreak prints these cards for about 15-20 companies, including Microsoft.
A box of 100 cards costs just Rs 250, and makes a impact. It reminds us that we all have a place in this world. It's original, creative, and a great conversation starter, reminding us that we all have a place in this world.
Disclaimer - NewzHook is an initiative of BarrierBreak
Click below to read the other stories in The Power of Braille series: