FConferences & Events

Conferences & Events

Participate in conferences to improve public awareness to Vision-Aid and expand visibility of the organization.

Boston Accessibility Conference Update

Here’s an update about the 2017 Boston Accessibility conference. First a few testimonials from those who were there:

Testimonials: From Dr. Aparna Raghuram, who serves on our board and is a veteran speaker and participant at many national conferences: “It was a fantastic conference. I was wide eyes and listening ears the whole time. Very empowering.”

From Mr. Puran Dang (who needs no introduction to most of you 🙂 – “Our event was a spectacular success. We met so many good people. It was so inspiring to meet Chieko, Paul and others. They showed that nothing can sway you if you have the will power.”

From Karen Young, VP of Inclusion at Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare – our partner – “Thank you so much for the opportunity to join you this past weekend!  I appreciate the care and attention Vision Aid and the Vision Aid community give to creating inclusive and heartfelt connections – and inspiring, informing and leading us toward affordable, effective solutions for those with visual challenges.”

Keynote by Chieko

The day began with a beyond-amazing keynote. Such an honor and privilege to have Chieko Asakawa deliver the keynote for this year’s conference.Chieko (who is blind herself) has been instrumental in furthering accessibility research and development for three decades. A series of pioneering technologies generated under Chieko’s leadership significantly contributed in advancing information accessibility, including groundbreaking work in digital Braille and voice Web browser. During the keynote, Chieko focused on advancing cognitive assistant research to help the blind regain information by augmenting missing or weakened abilities in the real world. Interweaving cutting edge research with personal humor and stories, she held the audience spellbound for the full hour. Chieko was appointed to IBM Fellow in 2009, IBM’s most prestigious technical honor. In 2013, the government of Japan awarded the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon to her. She has been also serving as an IBM Distinguished Service Professor at Carnegie Mellon University since 2014 The Vision-Aid team is immensely grateful to Chieko for making a coming to deliver the keynote in Boston despite her tight travel schedule.

Panel on Innovations in Affordable Assistive Technology

The first panel after lunch   explored the innovations in affordable assistive technology and devices for individuals with blindness or low vision. While there have been many advances in the field of assistive technology and devices, the high cost of such innovations keeps many of them outside the reach of the visually impaired. The focus of this panel was to highlight innovations  anc challenges which are affordable and can be scaled up to each large numbers with low cost. Moderator: Paul Parravano, Co-Director, Government and Community Relations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Speakers: Brian Carlson Director of Technology Carroll Center for the Blind Igor Feinberg, head of worldwide channel Orbit Research LLC, Jessica Shi B.S. Mechanical Engineering and member of Team Tactile at MIT. The highlight of this panel was the live demo by Brian of his favorite affordable technology that included many innovative devices for the blind

Panel on Empowering and Employing the Visually Impaired

This panel discussed how to prepare the blind and visually impaired get relevant skills and good employment opportunities in today’s economy. Topics included challenges faced by visually impaired who face over 70% unemployment rate even here in the US (and even more in developing countries), the use of MOOC’s to provide skills; the clinical perspective. The panel inlcuded Nicole Ross, Asst. Prof. New England College of Optometry

Cheryl Cumings; Founder, Our space Our Place and Sonal Patel: Vision-Aid’s expert on MOOC’s.

Vision-Aid and HPHC Information session

Brenda Cole from HPHC and Vision-Aid presented an update of their respective work in the area of inclusive programs for the visually impaired

Thanks, and next steps…

Heartfelt thanks to all Team Vision-Aid members who attended and supported the conference. Many new connections were made and new ideas were formed and over the next few weeks and months we will build upon these as we continue our journey to serve the visually impaired. 

A Digital Accessibility Testing Testimonial | Nibin Mathews

Nibin Mathews’ journey is a testament to resilience and determination. Despite facing

significant visual impairment challenges since birth, Nibin pursued education with unwavering determination. Losing sight in one eye due to a cricket ball stroke in 6th grade and later losing vision in the other eye to glaucoma didn’t deter him. He completed his Bachelor’s in English and even secured a job with Indian Railways. Yet, his thirst for knowledge led him to pursue computer programming, which he found through Vision-Aid. With their specialized training, he mastered coding and digital accessibility testing. With their financial support, he pursued a Master’s degree. Now, as the Accessibility Lead at Bosch Global Software Technologies, he’s excelling professionally. But Nibin’s achievements don’t stop there; he’s also an international tennis champion and a skilled violinist. He attributes much of his success to Vision-Aid, acknowledging their pivotal role in his journey. His story is not just one of personal triumph but also a testament to the impact of support systems in overcoming challenges and inspiring others.

A Job Coaching for Banking and other exams Testimonial | Gautam Gulati

Meet Gautam, a remarkable individual based in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, whose life story is a testament to resilience, determination, and the transformative power of organizations like Vision-Aid India.

Gautam’s life commenced with the diagnosis of Retinist Pigmentosa. Despite experiencing a 40% loss of sight, he persevered through attending a regular school, successfully completing his education and earning a B Com degree. His world took an unexpected turn after graduation, when, he had the major sight loss. Faced with the challenges of navigating everyday activities like driving, reading, writing print, and mobility etc. Yet, rather than allowing these obstacles to define him, he chose a path of resilience and determination. Undeterred by his circumstances, Gautam turned to technology, becoming dependent on tools designed for visually impaired individuals, including screen readers. His quest for independence led him to explore new technologies with the support of various NGOs. Through his social networks, Gautam discovered Vision-Aid India, an organization dedicated to empowering the visually impaired. Recognizing the potential for growth, he enrolled in Vision-Aid’s IBPS banking crash course, specifically tailored for visually impaired individuals, in April 2022.

Determined to enhance his skills further, Gautam pursued an additional course in mobile technology. This commitment to personal and professional growth showcased his unwavering spirit and determination.

Armed with newfound knowledge, Gautam faced the Bank of India Credit Officer exam after completing the IBPS crash course. His hard work, coupled with the right guidance from Vision-Aid, resulted in success. In 2023, Gautam proudly joined Bank of India as a Credit Officer, marking a significant milestone in his journey.

Gautam attributes his success and newfound independence to Vision-Aid India. With deep gratitude, he acknowledges the organization’s role in providing IBPS coaching and shaping his path towards independence.

A Python Testimonial

Tejas

Tejas, born with visual impairment in Mumbai, pursued his education at a Blind School. After school, he graduated from St. Xavier’s College in 2007. His quest for technology education led him to NIIT Bangalore, but job challenges followed. He worked as an HR Recruiter at Thomson Reuters but continued his search for software engineering opportunities. Tejas found his path at Vision-Aid India, where he gained certifications in JavaScript, CSS, HTML, Python, and Digital Accessibility Testing. Vision-Aid then helped him secure a role as an Associate Software Engineer at Pristine InfoTech Inc. He’s deeply grateful to Vision-Aid for enabling visually impaired individuals to learn software languages and work independently as software engineers.

Bindhu Sri

Meet Bindu, from Hyderabad. Who began her life with the gift of perfect vision? She embarked on her educational journey in a conventional school, but at the tender age of 9, her world dimmed as Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) impacted her sight. Loosing major of her vision with lot of challenges she still could complete her graduate degree in 2020 and her post-graduate degree in 2022. Being interested to pursue her career in computer programming she discovered Vision-Aid India, a beacon of hope and opportunity. Enrolling in their online certification programs, Bindu successfully completed both Python and SQL languages. Armed with these newfound skills, she opened doors to her career, securing a position as a Data Engineer at RX Data Science, a renowned company.

“All of this was made possible through the invaluable support and guidance provided by Vision-Aid India” She Says.

A HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and ARIA Fundamentals for Accessible Web Development Testimonial

Tejas

Tejas, born with visual impairment in Mumbai, pursued his education at a Blind School. After school, he graduated from St. Xavier’s College in 2007. His quest for technology education led him to NIIT Bangalore, but job challenges followed. He worked as an HR Recruiter at Thomson Reuters but continued his search for software engineering opportunities. Tejas found his path at Vision-Aid India, where he gained certifications in JavaScript, CSS, HTML, Python, and Digital Accessibility Testing. Vision-Aid then helped him secure a role as an Associate Software Engineer at Pristine InfoTech Inc. He’s deeply grateful to Vision-Aid for enabling visually impaired individuals to learn software languages and work independently as software engineers.