Did you know there are over 60 fairly large magazines and newspapers published from Mumbai? But for the 7.8 million visually impaired citizens of India, such options do not exist. Till now that is.
From this week many of them will for the first time delve into the world of short stories, recipes, music and humour thanks to a monthly magazine in Braille. And they have 24-year-old Upasana Makati to thank.
After studying communications in Canada and working in a public relations firm for a while, Makati has just launched a Braille magazine. The first edition of the monthly magazine, called White Print, will be available on subscription and will cost Rs 30. It has 64 pages of content including an interview with a blind music band, information about best selling audiobooks, beauty tips, recipes from a chef and a short story.
“The idea came to my mind in February last year, and I quit my job in June,” says Makati, who has tied up with the National Association of the Blind (NAB) to print the copies in Braille. The sole proprietor, Makati got her friends to help her decide the name of the magazine and the content. “Once the idea struck me as doable, I interviewed many visually-impaired people to understand what they would like to read. It is interesting to note that their lifestyle is not that different from ours. I figured that they were waiting for something like this for long. One of the blind girls I spoke to said she was fed up of banking on audio books to read and being dependent on a music player for entertainment. She wanted something physically in her hand, and not a screen-reading software.”
The NAB is charging Makati R 15 for printing one magazine on their Braille software. “I go to NAB in Worli to convert the text into Braille format. The rest of the time I work out of my home,” says Makati, who adds that the toughest challenge was getting the name registered. “It took me eight months to do just that. It was approved on the third attempt. Another challenge was getting ads, as a Braille magazine would have no colour, no images, only text,” quips Makati, who has got Raymonds on board as the magazine’s first advertisers.
“All it took was one email to get them on board,” explains Makati, who will distribute the first issue free of cost. We wish her good luck.