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  • Chris McMillan

World Book Day. A Bookstore for the Blind

Sixth Tone

23rd April 2023

World Book Day. A Bookstore for the Blind

Backlight 226 has become the go-to spot for visually impaired reading enthusiasts in Shanghai.

From the outside, the dots on the shopfront of Backlight 226 partly resemble a braille wall. Inside, the bookstore houses stacks of several titles, written in braille, for visually impaired readers.

Backlight 226 is a rare bookstore in Shanghai — and also in China — in that it offers books by visually impaired people to those with visual impairments.

Situated in the city’s leafy Nanchang Street, in proximity to other well-known bookshops and cafés, the store has been a fixture in the area since 2022, providing much-needed reading materials to the blind community.

“People may only know about the famous Helen Keller, but there are famous blind Chinese writers as well,” Han Ying, the manager of Backlight 226, told Sixth Tone, referring to the American author and activist who lost her sight and hearing at an early age.

Han partially lost her vision after an accident aged 21 and became completely blind five years later.

She said she has since had to give up teaching calligraphy, and the way she reads was also affected.

Now, aged 43, she said she relies on special apps designed for the visually impaired and spends most of her time at the bookstore.

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