Asia-Pacific, Universal Design, May 14 2019
INDIA: It’s called Ranchhod Sees the World and it’s an illustration picture book about Ranchhod Soni, a visually impaired teacher in Gujarat, who has not disability come in the way of discovering new things.
Bringing his story alive in a vivid and vibrant way for the first time is the Beyond Braille series which claims to offer breakthrough research to help visually impaired people visualise and imagine the world.
This is perhaps the first time, says Nupur Agarwal, Founder, Beyond Braille that visually impaired readers would get the opportunity to feel the shapes of objects/figures in the pictures. The idea was triggered while Nupur was doing her Masters at CEPT University in Ahmedabad.
I worked on the concept of a tactile picture book for the visually impaired community, exploring and developing it further with different mediums and materials, I created a 3D printed and embossed version of the illustration picture book for the visually impaired community. It opens the gate of potential possibilities for the community to explore picture books like never before. This would improve their learning, speed and efficiency, thereby improving their quality of living. Moreover, this invention would make the learning process more enjoyable. – Nupur Agarwal, Founder, Beyond Braille
Nupur also hopes that the series will also help raise awareness about the community as an “equally abled” group rather than disabled or a distinct group.
“The idea of making it a children’s book was so to instil the idea of equality from the start and the need to build an inclusive world”, she says. This, Nupur, felt was important as experience has shown that many non-disabled people are unsure, even scared, of interacting with people with disabilities.
Behind the final creation lay months of intense research by Nupur and her team in finding the best materials, Braille text and other methods. Initially, she created the book manually with the use of thread as the primary material. “After the project, I took a year’s break when I worked as a designer and thought of ways to mass produce this. I found a 3D designer and printer who were willing to collaborate,” she adds.
She simultaneously worked on the storytelling, going through the process of capturing the story, rhyming it, reading it, and imagining it from a child’s perspective.
“The children were so fascinated when their fingertips touched and felt the illustrations for the first time”, says Vidhi Tulsyan, a project volunteer. “This was my first time working with visually impaired kids and it was all very new and refreshing. We went to the blind school in Surat, interacted with kids there and they were really into the project. It feels great to be a part of this.”
If you want to know more about Beyond Braille, visit the website http://beyondbraille.com/. You can also order the book here.