The fact that nobody in India had till now thought of a lifestyle magazine for the visually impaired just goes to show how much we really care about them. So far, audio books and academic journals have been their staple reading material. Finally, a new lifestyle magazine in Braille seeks to fill this gap in a country which accounts for 20 per cent of the global population of the blind.
Thoughtfully called the ‘White Print’, the English magazine which will hit the stands on May 1, has sections on food, travel, gadgets, politics. Upasana Makati, a former public relations professional based in Mumbai, hit upon the idea when she realized that the visually impaired had nothing to read on a monthly basis. Launching a magazine in Braille for them seemed a most logical thing to do. She immediately began work on it, even though she had no team of her own. She tied up with National Association for Blind (NAB) in Mumbai to print the magazine. “It helps that NAB has a software to translate English into Braille. I do not have a team of writers or translators, given that it is a privately funded venture. We will find a way to get it to schools and colleges at subsidized rates,” she told the Times of India, an Indian daily.
Challenges will be aplenty for a magazine in Braille. For one, getting advertisers to part with their money may prove tough. In addition, high printing charges may upset the budget. Notwithstanding these, Makati is confident that she will manage. After all, she is hoping to put some intellectual excitement in the lives of the visually impaired.
It is interesting to note that a small country like Indonesia has two magazines in Braille. ‘Insight’ is written for visually impaired adults and features stories and testimonies of visually impaired Filipinos, news on latest technology for them and stories about the blind who are employed. ‘Double Yum’, a bi-weekly for children, features stories and poems for visually impaired children.
In the West, Braille magazines are a common feature for both adults and children. From subjects like chess, sports, cuisine, music to crosswords – a wide variety is on offer to choose from. Libraries dedicated to the blind and other disabled are a common feature in the West. Hopefully, this initiative will kindle more such ventures that will enliven the mental life of the visually impaired.
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