If you are a regular reader of the Accessible Insights blog, then you may have already read parts one and two of this interview series about a relatively new social networking platform called Inclusive Planet. This rapidly growing web destination aims to connect people who have print disabilities with accessible content, and build a community that is truly global. As a “Planeteer” myself for only a few weeks, I was so impressed with what the Inclusive Planet team was doing that I asked for, and was granted an interview with IP’s marketing visionary, Ujjvala Ballal.
In parts one and two we discussed Inclusive Planet’s goals, plans for growth and monetization. In this third part, Ujjvala shared IP’s plans to impact policy for the print-impaired community.
LL: How are you getting the word out about Inclusive Planet?
IP: Some things we are doing include working closely with the first few thousand print-impaired members to sharpen our value proposition, for example, the Transformative impact of connecting, sharing and collaborating. We are also connecting and engaging other high-impact organisations around the world that work with the print-impaired and staying open to various models of collaboration.
LL: What about word of mouth?
IP: We recognize the fact that localisation is big. People want the platform in their local language and they want an early lot of content and conversation to attract them to adopting the platform. Thus offering local languages and early seed content, mostly in partnership with the kind of organisations mentioned previously is critical. We’re identifying powerful stakeholders in the accessibility world (Google, IBM etc.) and taking the first steps to demonstrate the calibre of our early work so as to get them to support us strategically (marketing, accessible content) and so on. Our biggest focus area is listening hard to the early community and responding accordingly. That’s the mantra of community formation and we want to validate our value propositions carefully.
LL: Care to share some specifics about your marketing plan?
IP: In the short term, we are exploring the idea of 2 campaigns at the moment. In the Breaking Stereotypes Campaign, we are looking at partnering with a few organizations across the world to create stories, and content from the existing community to help break common stereotypes that most sighted people have about visual impairment.
We are also exploring the idea of creating inspiring and powerful content (in the form of audio and video) of print impaired people who have achieved success in their own fields, and overcome the unique challenges that they have been faced with. Each of these stories will be a powerful tool for the print impaired community as role models are always a strong source of inspiration! Our objective would be to create a storehouse of knowledge and inspiration for the global print impaired community.
LL: Sounds ambitious. Anything else you want to add?
IP: There is another facet to our work. Direct policy work that Inclusive Planet is doing and the impact that inclusiveplanet.com will have on policy.
Inclusive Planet’s policy advocacy arm helped with the drafting of the WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons and are helping the World Blind Union in advocating for the treaty at WIPO. We were part of the WBU delegation at the Stakeholders Platform and the open consultations at Geneva. In India, we conceptualized and executed the Right to Read campaign to bring about copyright changes to enable the conversion and distribution of reading material in accessible formats. Leading political parties have come forward to support the initiative and a copyright amendment is currently pending before Parliament.
As for the policy impact of inclusiveplanet.com, policy advocacy amongst the print-impaired is poor because there is no print-impaired community. Naturally community formation as a result of inclusiveplanet.com would have a transformational impact on this because it would allow problems to be discussed and strategies to be evolved at a community level, and not just draw national inputs but international inputs. A small example of an already successful public initiative on inclusiveplanet.com is that of the South African National Commission for the Blind to solicit views on its Braille voting template.
Whew. Admirable goals indeed. In the final part of this interview series, we’ll talk about alternatives to print formats, copyright and file sharing. Strap in, we’re coming in for a landing on Inclusive Planet!