A lifestyle magazine in Braille

Upasana Makati manages all of White Print’s content, marketing and distribution. Photo: Special Arrangement  

India is home to 15 million of the 39 million visually challenged people in the world, says a World Health Organisation study released in 2012.

As a “baby step” towards highlighting the issues faced by the visually challenged, Upasana Makati here launched White Print, India’s first English lifestyle magazine for the visually challenged, two years ago.

“No one in my family or friends circle is visually challenged. It was just a random thought that occurred during one of my late-night musings,” the 26-year-old says.

“I thought about how we had the option of choosing from several magazines while there was none for the visually challenged. You would think that is the most basic idea, but it is surprising how no one had come up with it so far. Imagine how much we have ignored the visually challenged.”


The 64-page monthly publication in Braille has columns on culture, art, technology, food, music and politics. Readers too can write.

The magazine features short stories of Sudha Murthy, who has given the rights to 12 of her works. “There is a film-related column that was introduced after a reader wrote to me asking to include it,” she says. “I was surprised to learn that they [the visually challenged] consume a lot of cinema. Once someone even told me how Katrina Kaif was her favourite actor. When I asked the reason, she said she liked her voice.”

Ms. Makati writes and curates content from freelancers who are willing to contribute to the magazine free. She uses a software program that translates the text into Braille.

Cost issue

White Print currently has a circulation of 300 and reaches out to subscribers across the country. While it is priced at Rs. 30 an issue, or Rs. 300 for 12 issues, the cost of production is around Rs. 2,000 a magazine for a year.

Ms. Makati, a former PR professional, who is the sole person involved in running the entire business from content to marketing and distribution, tries to tide over the costs by roping in advertisers. White Print is not a magazine where traditional print ads can feature, but this has not stopped the likes of Raymond, the first to place an ad in the magazine, Tata and Coca-Cola from venturing into Braille advertising.

“I think the trick is to reach out to the top management directly because they understand the importance of something like this better,” says Ms. Makati going on to explain how she wrote directly to Ratan Tata, who reverted immediately and directed his team to place an ad. She recalls how the musical ad specially designed by Coca-Cola for White Print was a real hit with her readers. Once a specific page was opened, the brand’s jingle would start playing, similar to musical greeting cards.

Ms. Makati was one of the speakers at the TEDxGatewayWomen that took place in Mumbai on Friday where she spoke on how small steps towards inclusivity could go a long way in empowering the specially-abled. Her session ended with a moving video produced by her to highlight the importance of Braille literacy.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 3:15:37 PM |

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