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Mumbai bookstore Trilogy is helping to spread the word about Braille

Tucked inside Raghuvanshi Mills Complex is Trilogy, a bookstore surrounded by shops that sell chandeliers, sofas and carpets.

You could easily miss this tiny shop, but to do so would be a pity. Because inside you are transported to quite another world, with books ranging from history to poetry to art. A selection put together with great thought and care by founders Ahalya and Meethil Momaya.

The Momayas, who also run a curated library, make it a point to select the best Indian and international titles for children and adults.

What sets the collection truly apart is a space dedicated to books in Braille, making Trilogy among a handful of mainstream bookshops in India to do so. Given the rather limited number of people who read Braille in the country, this makes it a rather brave step.

One day we got a query from someone looking for books in Braille. The person we spoke with had called every bookstore in the city. We promised we would get back with an answer and the hunt began. - Ahalya Momaya, Co-founder, Trilogy

The hunt led the Momayas to Upasana Makati, Founder-Editor, White Print, India's only lifestyle magazine in Braille and the realization that a huge gap exists when it comes to catering to the needs of visually impaired readers.

A gap Trilogy founders say they are determined to bridge as "we need society to enable the sharing of resources and not waste time creating exclusive platforms that make us all invisible to each other."

A meeting with the National Association for the Blind (NAB) opened doors to people and ventures that are promoting Braille literature and reading.

What remains an abiding challenge is getting diverse and original content.

"There seems to be no real push towards encouraging Braille literacy and creating a veritable catalogue of books that will cater to a reader's every need. Business books, fantasies, books about number literacy and space, we don't have a comprehensive list of books to share," regrets Ahalya.

The solution, believes Makati, has to come from the visually impaired community.

"The community needs to believe that printed content can be made available, in turn creating a positive demand for it and encouraging more publishers to venture into the space. Bookstores like Trilogy are encouraging platforms for this thought. With a Braille book on their stands they are openly calling out for inclusion. This is also active effort to inform and educate the sighted about inclusion in our society."

While the access to audiobooks and other forms of digital media is welcome, the thrill of holding a book is something quite unmatched, says Makati. "The emotional and physical connect with print is something that's never going to be substituted by digital media. I believe, the advent of technology in this case has to be directed towards making the process of Braille printing more affordable and accessible."

What is encouraging is the support Trilogy is getting from library members and bookstore patrons who are spreading the word, helping to highlight a much needed perspective.

"It makes people think about what else has been missing", says Ahalya." Hopefully, we will be able to do more to encourage the idea of inclusivity and get more conversations started about the need for access to books in Braille for people in our communities who need them."

ALSO READ: A lifestyle magazine in Braille opens a new window to blind people

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