“White Print is not just a magazine anymore, it’s a means to spread love to our readers, a community that means so much to me now.”
Launched in May 2013, White Print is India’s first lifestyle publication for the visually impaired in braille that allows readers to delve into and explore the world of leisure reading. Brainchild of 24-year-old Upasana Makati, the unique 64-pager is printed at the National Association for the Blind in Mumbai, and circulated around India, consisting of columns, articles and features on an array of subjects including music, dance, art, technology, politics, short stories and even Bollywood. Upasana was taken aback when a few idle Google searches in 2012 revealed that not a single publication in braille existed in India to cater to the 56-lakh literate visually impaired individuals that reside here, the largest visually impaired population in the world. This is when she decided to quit her job, start conceptualising and take things into her own hand - and ultimately, be the change-maker.
Priced at Rs 30, the monthly magazine lets the readers enjoy the smell of freshly printed paper with their morning cuppa, privy to the latest information and entertainment news. The magazine has also opened up new avenues for advertising; beginning with text-based ads by TATA and Raymond, they eventually went on to the innovation of a musical ad by Coca Cola, with the development of a hidden musical chip (like a greeting card) that makes it sing, ‘Umeedon waali dhoop, sunshine waali aasha.’
“This ad… let me tell you, it was no more just an ad for our readers,” Upasana says in her talk at TEDxBITSHyderabad, her emotional investment quite evident. “It meant so much more to each one of them. Our subscribers have been such an important part of our journey.”
The response to the path-breaking publication has indeed been overwhelming, with calls from the remotest towns and village in India pouring in to Upasana, thanking her for the tactile publication that is far more than just an amalgam of facts, and is in fact providing a potpourri of perspectives to an audience that is devouring every page. It features the stories of visually impaired people who have excelled in their respective fields, beacons of inspiration for the community. The magazine also features a monthly column by renowned television journalist Barkha Dutt, who weaves political reportage for the readers.
“Our writers are wanderers, free in the wilderness, who bring stories of exotic places that can engulf a curious mind. We believe in the power music has in soothing frayed nerves and its undying impact. We believe in the importance of international affairs as much as leisure reads.”
‘B for Braille’, a 5-minute music short, is aimed at creating conversation around braille literacy and bringing to the forefront issues related to it. It is poised to become the next Braille anthem of India because, as White Print highlights, it is about time we have one.