What made you take up India’s first English lifestyle magazine in Braille?
White Print is India’s First English Lifestyle Magazine in Braille rolled out in the month of May 2013. This 64 pager monthly is circulated across India and printed at the National Association for the Blind. Imagine a day without a newspaper early in the morning. The breakfast table seems incomplete right? No matter how dependent we get on technology, the pleasure of physically holding and reading a newspaper, magazine or a book cannot be replaced or replicated. White Print was born thanks to a similar thought. Year 2012 was when suddenly I began thinking about the various reading options available for a visually impaired person. To my surprise I could think of none. I immediately shared the idea with my closest bunch of friends and thoroughly began the research process. Three months into the research I decided to quit my job and commit myself completely to the venture. After eight months of the legal procedures to get a title, we rolled out the magazine in the month of May 2013.
How are you able to connect so well with the visually impaired?
For us, our readers have been the biggest source of motivation. Each day is a new challenge but their positive feedback and liking for the magazine just makes the journey so beautiful. Surprising to many, I didn’t have anyone from my friends or family members who is visually impaired. But now I have a very big and happy family. Each day was a new experience and I learnt more about how the visually impaired aren’t any different from the sighted too. Each one of White Print’s readers interacts with us on a regular basis. There are times they call just to share something that they eagerly want to share with someone. We talk about cosmetics brands, personal experiences with people, individual experiences, food that we tried, films that we watched and so much more. I didn’t know a magazine could mean so much to people, their love and eagerness to receive it each month is great positive energy for our entire team.
No matter how dependent we get on technology, the pleasure of physically holding and reading a newspaper, magazine or a book cannot be replaced or replicated.
What more can be done to improve Braille literacy? What are the challenges ahead?
We believe music has immense power to convey strong messages. Last year we released B for Braille, a short music film to spread awareness about Braille literacy in the country. Basic literacy can be too trivial a matter to you and me but for many it is still a dream. For the visually impaired, Braille literacy stands as an unattainable reverie. There is an urgent need to educate, empower, to reach out and to generate awareness regarding the value of the Braille script. Education is empowerment and this can be the biggest weapon to fight any challenges. More Braille printing presses across the country could ease the burden on the existing ones and ensure books reaching students in time. Awareness is the first step in bringing about a change of any nature and through White Print we hope to be able to echo the problems faced by the community.
Do you think the day is not far off when the visually impaired will have their own daily?
First of all, imagine us speaking about how exciting the idea of Braille daily sounds, something that the sighted take for granted and are spoilt for choice. Its truly sad that in 2015 we are running after technology but do not have something as basic as a newspaper for the visually impaired. Unfair, isn’t it? It’s on my wish list to be able to bring out a daily in Braille and I hope that day comes soon!
Brief Bio: Upasana Makati
Upasana Makati is the Founder & Publisher of White Print – India’s first English lifestyle magazine for the visually impaired in Braille. Launched in May, 2013, she started White Print to build a readership of enthusiastic individuals who would look beyond the realms of mere news as reading material. She plans to make available the luxury of reading well-researched and informative articles along with leisure reads to the visually impaired community. Printed at the National Association for the Blind, Mumbai the magazine is circulated across the country. From 20 copies a month to 300 copies a month, Upasana’s journey so far has been bittersweet.