An update from key Vision-Aid programs across India in the past quarter [July – September 2022]

With the turn of seasons, we also have the turn of the quarterly program cycle at Vision-Aid. 

During the past quarter [July – September 2022], Vision-Aid Resource Centers and Programs had the opportunity to serve 4366 visually impaired persons across India via various programs.

THANK YOU so much to our supporters, volunteers, team members and partners, for making this possible! 

In addition to an amazing team of partners and team members on the ground in India,  here in the US, a team of  volunteer, uncompensated professionals – leaders in their fields – with backgrounds in Ophthalmology, Optometry, Low Vision Rehabilitation, Occupational Therapy , Education, Computer Science, Software, Education, Business and Financial Management provide guidance and oversight to keep the programs running efficiently with near Zero Overhead costs in the US and all the funds received going to work directly in our programs. On behalf of this leadership team, we’re happy to share with you a deeper dive with some of the highlights of the work in the past quarter. 

Vision-Aid @ Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai

During the past quarter, 1892 beneficiaries were offered low vision screening. From these, persons who qualified for Vision-Aid programs (based on need) were offered several interventions including comprehensive low vision assessments, counselling sessions, orientation and mobility training, sessions of early intervention, visual skills training, mobile technology training sessions, assistive aids and devices and computer training sessions. 

  • A new and innovative Virtual Reality therapy for improving functional vision for children with special needs was introduced. Customization and play-way method makes these sessions exciting for the child.  
  • The team participated in the Tamil Nādu Ophthalmic Conference in August 2022 with focus areas of
    • AI-powered Smart Vision Glasses 
    • Recent advances in Vision Rehabilitation  
    • UREAD – a digital reader for the visually impaired
    • Childhood glaucoma – Early intervention and the role of Artificial intelligence  
    • New Virtual Reality therapy for Vision Rehabilitation 
  • The team also participation in the Kerala State Ophthalmic Society workshop series  “Recent Advances in Low Vision Management” 
Vision-Aid @ LVPEI Hyderabad  
  • In partnership with Vision-Aid, the advanced center of excellence for Vision Rehabilitation at LVPEI, builds upon LVPEI’s vision rehabilitation infrastructure to offer advanced training programs for the visually impaired, training of vision professionals from other parts of India, in low vision rehabilitation, hi-tech assistive devices and ground breaking research and development efforts to effect systemic policy changes in eye care in India and globally. 
  • Visually impaired students undergo advanced training programs in fields ranging from programming, to mobile technology to spoken English and corporate skills development.  
  • Smartphones were given to several visually impaired from under-privileged backgrounds on 17th September, 2022. Following this, smartphone workshops were conducted about using the accessibility features and assistive applications in smartphones.
  • A pilot residential Computer training program at the LVPEI campus, Vijayawada was conducted during this quarter. 
  • A new batch of students enrolled in July 2022 for IBPS  (a training for Bank and Govt. sector competitive exams) and Python training program to learn coding skills
  • A new pilot LVPEI placement program is ongoing with the placement officer working with area companies to seek job placements for trained students.
  • The research study on using contrast sensitivity as a means to identify visual impairment is advancing rapidly. 627 children have been tested for contrast sensitivity parameters till 30th September 2022 which included 335 children with vision impairment. So far, we have 1204 visually impaired children recruited in this study. Interim analysis of the data is in progress, so that we can present the outcomes of this research in Vision 2023 in Denver.  It is expected that this study will shape future policy for identification of visual impairment in India and abroad.
Vision-Aid @ Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, Delhi  
  • The highlight of the quarter was the inauguration ceremony of the  Lachhman Dass Gupta Vision-Aid Resource Center & Smart Vision Glasses /Smartphone Distribution on 6th Sept 2022 by Meetu and Ram Gupta. 
  • During the quarter 378 visually impaired beneficiaries were served. Interventions offered include comprehensive low vision assessments, education and counselling, assistive devices and aids, assistive device training, computer training sessions and mobile training sessions.   
  • The quarter also saw a significant event of Distribution of Smart Vision Glasses & Smartphone on 5th of July 2022 which was covered in the national media. 
Vision-Aid Resource Center @ Sankara Nethralaya Chennai
  • The photo above shows Baby Sahana: While there are hundreds of such stories each quarter, the past quarter highlighted the story of Baby Sahana and how Early intervention and Visual Perception therapy is transforming one year old Baby Sahana and her functional vision. She is a baby with a condition called Microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition in which a baby’s head is significantly smaller than expected, often due to abnormal brain development. She is getting the recommended physiotherapy and speech therapy sessions at the Vision-Aid Center. The family is grateful for the free quality care received.
  • The past quarter saw the memorable launch of our new center the “Kamala Thiruvengada Chari Vision-Aid center by Dr. (s) Kastoori Iyengar and Ranga Sarangarajan. 
  • Serving VI infants and children with a comprehensive multi-disciplinary approach is a special strength of this center.  
  • Beneficiaries of Vision-Aid include infants, young children, MDVI children who receive visual developmental therapy, sensory integration, fine motor development, eye-hand coordination, behavior management, remedial education, and referral services to additional interventions like physiotherapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy. 
  • 394 beneficiaries were served during the July to Sept quarter. Interventions done in the quarter include low vision assessments, assistive aids and devices,   education and counselling sessions,  sessions of early intervention, visual skills training,   training for MDVI children,  orientation and mobility training, mobile technology training sessions, money identification, life skills training, braille training, and assistive technology training (computer training) sessions.
Vision-Aid @ The Voluntary Health Services Hospital Chennai 
  • The past quarter saw the Launch of Computer training center by Mr Venkat Srinivasan and family and Distribution of Smart Vision Glasses with Smartphones to under privileged patients of VHS. 
  • An interesting event from this quarter: Optometry student representatives of VHS Vision-Aid Resource Center participated in recent events in Chennai focused on Sports for the Visually impaired (VI)
    • They got the opportunity to watch a state level championship of cricket match played by Mr Megavannan, a beneficiary of VHS Vision-Aid Resource Centre, on 30th July, 2022 whose team won the champion’s trophy 
    • The students also watched and interacted with VI who participated in a state level chess tournament for the visually impaired (VI) 2022. 
  • The interventions offered to patients at VHS who come from under-privileged backgrounds of Chennai and surrounding areas include comprehensive low vision assessments,  computer training programs, assistive devices and aids, education and counselling sessions, assistive device training, orientation and mobility training. 
Vision-Aid @ CECF, Pune  
  • An orientation program was conducted at Armed Forces Medical College and Hospital on 6th July 2022. The team gave training to 21  staff members including ophthalmologists , optometrist and other hospital staff members. 
  • There were 8 blind school camps conducted in this quarter. In Yashwant Rao Chauhan Memorial Hospital at Pune, the team have started weekly low vision camps which have been running effectively for last 2 months.  
  • The Vision-Aid Team distributed Smart Vision Glasses to deserving visually impaired youth on 13th  July 2022 
  • 839 beneficiaries were served during the July to Sept 2022 Quarter which includes screening, low vision assessment cum training,  assistive aids and devices,  sessions of education, counselling and Orientation & Mobility training. Students got government certificates for Disability.             

Vision-Aid team distributed smart phones to visually challenged girls on 29th Sept 2022 at a function presided by Mr. Girish Bapat, a Minister of Parliament, as Chief Guest.

Other programs 

The above just highlights a few major projects. In addition to this,

  • Vision-Aid programs support 20 Blind schools across India helping to build up their capacity for better education for blind students 
  • Over 375 children with visual impairment and multiple disabilities (MDVI) were screened and offered interventions in Agra, in partnership with the Perkins School for the Blind 
  • Over 100 visually impaired students from all over India continued to receive virtual training in a 12 comprehensive online skills training programs. These virtual programs have participants from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Punjab and Rajasthan to the far North Eastern states – a truly national initiative teaching valuable skills ranging from the comfort and safety of their own homes. 
  • Vision-Aid’s Digital Accessibility Testing  and Training Center (DATTC) successfully delivered contracts to the University of Massachussets (UMAss) – a project which helped several visually impaired stay gainfully employed as DAT Testers. Several graduates from our advanced technology programs received jobs as software developers. Please watch this short video of our recent Python graduates

We sincerely thank all supporters, volunteers , partners and team members in Vision-Aid and in our partner networks in India and the US who make these amazing accomplishments possible in service of the visually impaired to help them live with independence and dignity.  

Gratefully yours,

The Vision-Aid Team

Vision-Aid India Relaunches its Website

The launch of this new website gives us renewed hope that India will see more lives of the visually impaired being transformed.

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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.

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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.