"Ploy" Sarocha Kittisiripan, the sightless editor at “PaperyBfly Bookhouse”, Thailand's first publishing house for people with disabilities, with a dream of an inclusive world for all.

November 14, 2023


       “I like the word ‘delicate (papery) wings.’ It does not convey weaknesses, but instead, it represents self-compassion and the courage to take flight together," said Sarocha ‘Ploy’ Kittisiripan.

       ‘Ploy’ is the editor of PaperyBfly Bookhouse, a subsidiary of the Butterfly Publishing House with a special focus on publishing the work of people with disabilities. In addition to Thai authors, the house also translates works from international authors with disabilities as well."

       “Our goal is to share ideas, abilities, culture, and the life of people with disabilities.” Ploy affirmed her commitment. “We firmly believe that the more people become aware of the voices of those with disabilities, the greater their understanding will be. This will lead to the building of an equitable societal framework.”

        When asked to expand on the expression “having the courage to take flight,” Sarocha answered:

        “Based on my personal experience, despite my fear and blindness to my surroundings, I must step outside into the world where the society, systems, and spaces are already designed for able-bodied people. Only through courage, I was able to take my first step, and it is this courage that people with disabilities must have to an extent just to live in this world."

         Even though her profession mainly involved reading books, this editor, who lost her sight at an early age, had to summon her courage since she was just a little child. 


      When Ploy was around 4 - 5 months old, her mother noticed unusual cloudy spots in her eyes. After the examination, Ploy was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer in the retina. Her mother tirelessly searched for numerous hospitals and doctors who could provide treatment, even turning to superstitious alternatives.

      Even though her sight have been taken by cancer since early childhood, Ploy received a good upbringing and guidance through the Special Education Center – La-orutis Demonstration School, which not only advised her mother on the appropriate parenting but also taught the skills and knowledge Ploy needed to navigate daily life as well.

      She attended a school for the visually impaired in Bangkok during her elementary school years. Subsequently, in high school, she integrated with mainstream students. Following this, she earned a scholarship to pursue her studies in the Faculty of Arts at Chulalongkorn University.

      “There are only 20 schools for the visually impaired in Thailand, and they are found in major provinces only,” Ploy said, a surprisingly small number.

        Typically, children like Sarocha, who were not born in capital cities, must travel a considerable distance from their parents to attend boarding schools. Frequently, parents become deeply concerned for their children, to the point where they are reluctant to send them away. This is one of the primary factors contributing to the high rates of illiteracy among blind individuals.

        According to a 2017 survey conducted by the National Statistical Office and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), it was found that there is a higher prevalence of people with disabilities in rural areas, accounting for 6.2 percent, compared to 4.5 percent in urban areas. Moreover, the northern and northeastern provinces showed a higher percentage of disabled populations as well.

        In terms of education, the same statistics indicated that around 65 percent of the disabled population lack access to all forms of education, and only 1.2 percent are enrolled in universities, highlighting a significant disparity compared to the general population.

        Fueled by her passion for books and commitment to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities, Ploy founded the PaperyBfly Bookhouse in 2020 at the age of twenty-nine, promising not only to publish "books" but also be a catalyst for changes that we will explore together in this article.

        The young girl who once attended the school for the visually impaired has now grown into a beacon of hope for many in society. 


      One of the initial projects following the establishment of the publishing house involved a collaboration with the 

      Chula Arts Alumni Association and the Faculty of Arts at Chulalongkorn University. The project was a contest for the writings of people with disabilities, starting with blind people in the first year.

       The contest received over fifty submissions.  

       “The first year was an immense success. If not for the contest, we would not have realized the number of blind individuals who love to write books. Many of them would have been lost and hidden behind anonymous pen names, their blindness unknown to the world. This contest not only explored their identities and place of living but also shared their stories to a wider audience.”

        Blind authors often “blend” their works with those of general authors. Some of these authors even write about sighted people, imagining what they would see. Hence, this project serves as the beginning, allowing them to unveil their identities and share the true stories of their sightless lives.

        Understanding the experiences of blind individuals is crucial for society, as blindness varies, from total blindness to blurred vision, and even double vision. Each blind person has different difficulties in their life. For instance, those with blurred vision often face misunderstanding from those around them, as their vision loss is not consistent.

        The more society understands, the more it can promote empathetic design aimed at equalizing the quality of life for blind individuals with that of the general population.

        “We are also open to other stories in addition to the experience of people with disabilities.”

        The editors of the publishing house values all stories written by people with disabilities, as all of their stories serve as testaments to their potential.

        The disclosure of the authors’ blindness can inspire other families to overcome their apprehensions of disabilities in their children, fostering hope that their children can also receive a complete education, participate in the workforce, and thrive within society. This realization opens the door to the idea that their children, too, can accumulate valuable knowledge, contribute unique ideas, and gain rich life experiences. 


      “More individuals will be willing to openly identify themselves,” said Ploy, “which was unlikely in the past due to fear of condescension, discrimination, or workplace rejection."

       Blind individuals have encountered numerous challenges in the workplace. These include unaccommodating systems and equipment, along with the segregating attitudes of some people, which limit vocational opportunities for disabled individuals and hinder their career advancement, consequently leading to a decline in self-esteem.

       These ultimately affect the financial status and quality of life of people with disabilities.

       In Ploy's perspective, the government should offer increased support to people with disabilities, beginning with ensuring equal access to books, promoting media designed for the blind, and fostering vocational skills and lifestyles. This includes selecting instructors who understand effective communication methods and allocating proper time for skill development.

       PaperyBfly Bookhouse is wholeheartedly committed to creating a platform for individuals with disabilities to explore and showcase their untapped potential. We not only foster cooperation among people with disabilities but also offer them the chance to engage with and appreciate the literary works of their peers.

       "We invite submissions from individuals with disabilities across all age groups, genders, and backgrounds who are eager to share their experiences with their fellow peers."

        The initiatives of PaperyBfly Bookhouse align with the SDGs Goal 4, which emphasizes providing inclusive, equitable, and lifelong learning opportunities.

         As a result, these educational opportunities will enhance the vocational skills of individuals with disabilities, thereby supporting the aims of Goal 10, which seeks to ensure equal access to economic and social opportunities, and Goal 1, which aims to end poverty in all forms.

         The SDGs are inherently interconnected.

         The publishing house is presently working on two books in production.

         The first book is authored by Wisuvis ‘Prem’ Chuduan, an individual with a playful spirit who has been living with Locked-in Syndrome for a decade following an accident. Although he is unable to speak or walk, he retains limited control over his muscles, allowing him to operate a computer mouse to select letters and document his experiences, treatment journey, and daily thoughts.

         Another book is written by a visually impaired individual who is unable to spell words due to illiteracy. The manuscript was created using speech-to-text technology, and this method is consistently used for all of his novels. 

      The experiences of these visually impaired individuals, Ploy included, hold great significance. Her life journey has led her to wholeheartedly dedicate herself to this project with an overwhelming passion.

      "We are actually proceeding through trials and errors," Ploy expressed, with a hint of hesitation for the first time.

      "I lack know-how in many areas, and I won't deny that I have daily concerns. I'm uncertain about where my ideas will lead me, but within just the first year, I have come far from where I started."

       She recounted  her childhood experiences when she frequently felt disheartened, unsure about the path her life would take, what she could achieve, and how she could support her parents. Much of her time during those days was consumed by worries about the future.

       "If I could turn back time, I would free my past self from worry and dedicate my time to self-improvement.”

       "If I could say something to my past self, I would say that it wasn't your fault for feeling that way, and you were truly remarkable in overcoming your fears and sharing your energy with society to the extent you did."

        Despite the delicacy of this butterfly's wing, it has taken flight and will persist in its journey.

        It is not just Ploy; we believe that you, the readers, can also bring about changes in areas where your skills and interests align. You do not have to be born a genius to make a difference.

        "I believe everyone’s life has meaning, and we are the ones who choose those meanings. Regardless of your beliefs and goals, simply make your choices and diligently work toward them each day. Initially, your effort might seem intangible and shapeless in the first days, months, and years. However, through our dedication and joy in these pursuits, little by little, our vision will take shape in our hearts, and we will see our beliefs surely made real," Ploy said.

         Before concluding our profound discussion, we posed a closing question to her: "What does the ideal world in your dreams look like?"

         "I wish for a world where individuals with disabilities and those without can form friendships and collaborate to the best of their abilities. I want to see an open-minded society that actively seeks to learn from one another."