Now, a magazine for the visually impaired

Urvashi Valecha Mumbai | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on December 28, 2017

White Print gives readers “a sense of independence” and keeps them updated on current affairs and news on latest tech

It takes time to register that a cafe in Mumbai’s upmarket Juhu doubles up as an office for Upasana Makati. It is from here that she works on White Print, a magazine for the visually impaired that she founded four years ago.

“The name (white print) represents a creative representation of the Braille script,” explains Makati over a steaming cup of tea. This is precisely why the meeting is taking place: to find out more about this person who is going the extra mile to help the visually impaired.

“The idea was just half the battle, what was more challenging was executing it,” she says. Makati was barely 23 when she decided to start a magazine for the blind. She was working as a public relations professional in Mumbai and this meant a complete detour in her work life.

“I visited the office of the secretary-general at the National Association for the Blind (NAB) and convinced them to let me use their printing press for the magazine,” she says. Obviously, this meant coughing up money which was a challenge since Makati “did not come from an affluent family”.

The other dilemma was working out the business plan for White Print. “I spoke to a few visually impaired people who did not want any sympathy. They were ready to pay for a magazine,” she recalls.

Makati then began reaching out to companies for placing advertisements in her magazine. The going was not easy and finally her persistence paid off when a marketing head of a top corporate house agreed to release an advertisement for ₹30,000.

“At present, a yearly subscription for White Print is ₹300 but rising printing costs are a challenge,” Makati said. Additionally, some editions have not had any advertisements which makes the going tough. The magazine is a 64-page compilation of cover stories, interviews and columns. However, advertising is the key and this is where White Print faces a big challenge considering that its longest contract thus far has been a mere three months.

Despite this headwind, what gives Makati a lot of satisfaction is the feedback she gets in the form of postcards from every nook and corner of the country. “The visually impaired are marginalised with people thinking they are useless and dependent when they are not,” she says vehemently.

Big role

White Print plays a big role here in giving its readers “a sense of independence” while updating them on current affairs and news on the latest technology.

Makati is also excited about the tactabet, an a-b-c learning book in Braille. This has been very effective with children and the response has been good enough to consider a tactabet in Hindi with similar ones planned for numbers, animals and so on.

(The writer is an intern with BusinessLine)

Published on December 28, 2017
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