Highlights of Vision-Aid Programs across India (July – September 2023) 

During this time of Thanksgiving, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to all our supporters as well as the dedicated teams at our Vision-Aid centres across India. These centers stand as beacons of hope for the visually impaired in many parts of India and are constantly striving to make a significant positive impact in the lives of numerous visually impaired individuals. 

During the past quarter, all of our Vision-Aid resource centers have been relentlessly offering services to the visually impaired, and from the period July to Sept. 2023, Vision-Aid programs had the opportunity to serve 6553 visually impaired children and adults across 30 locations in India. (~20,000 annually) 

Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai (a project supported by Pratima & Venkat Srinivasan)  

Aravind Eye Hospital is driven by a mission to provide high-quality eye care to all sections of society, especially to those who are economically disadvantaged. The Aravind eye care system has the largest volume of patients in India. One of the recent highlights in 2023 is Vision-Aid resource centers have been started at Aravind’s network of hospitals at Tirunelveli, Tirupati, and Pondicherry in addition to the main hospital in Madurai. We are also in discussions with Aravind Coimbatore at this time. 

The total beneficiaries of the quarter are over 1800 and nearly 2000 sessions of interventions/ services were given with a focus on early intervention care for pediatric groups and affordable low vision care and rehabilitative care.  

Aravind Eye Hospital Madurai, under the guidance of Chief Dr. P. Vijayalakshmi, organized a successful CME titled “Unlocking the Mysteries of Cerebral Visual Impairment: The Journey to Vision and Brain” on September 2, 2023. The event, led by the Department of Pediatric Ophthalmology, Strabismus, and Vision Rehabilitation Centre, aimed to raise awareness about CVI, covering topics from its basics to setting up a CVI clinic. Eminent speakers emphasized the impact of rehabilitation for children with CVI, benefiting both the child and parents. The event included multidisciplinary discussions, drawing 150 participants, and hands-on training with dynamic retinoscopy and technology-driven interventions, engaging 200 attendees. Interactive sessions enhanced interaction, fostering understanding among ophthalmologists, pediatricians, optometrists, and therapists. 

The Vision-Aid/Aravind team won the Dr. Captain Subramaniam award for the best video on ” All in one Rehab Tool for a person with Visual impairment” which featured the Smart Vision Glass by Dr. Sahithya in Tamil Nadu Ophthalmic Association (TNOA).  

The team also published  articles on the Impact of special software training on Quality of life among people with Visual impairment.                        https://journals.lww.com/ijo/fulltext/2023/71100/impact_of_special_software_training_on_quality_of.9.aspx and the Impact of online vision intervention on functional vision in children with multiple disabilities. https://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/ZEBBJIPEFAHDAAABQIIJ/full     

Aravind Eye Hospital, Tirunelveli (a project supported by Pratima & Venkat Srinivasan)  

The Vision-Aid center has started operations. Some of the highlighted as below  

  1. Group Counseling on O & M: Group Counseling on Orientation and Mobility was conducted on August 9th, eight patients were benefited on that day and the care takers understood the concepts of a sighted guide 
  1. Vision therapy room: A separate and fully equipped vision therapy room has been set up for vision stimulation exercise and this has also been used as an Early Intervention Unit. 
  1. Special School Camp: The camp was conducted on 22.09.2023 in collaboration with V Excel Educational Trust (Special School), from which 14 patients benefited. 
  1. In the CME on “Unlocking the Mysteries Cerebral Visual Impairment”: Dr. Meenakshi and Dr. Fathima presented on the “Etiology of Cerebral visual impairment” and “Setting up a CVI clinic” respectively. Our Rehabilitationist Ms. Hemalakshmi and Refractionist Ms.Selvi also participated and benefited from Hands-on on Experience in using technology for visually impaired persons. 

Aravind Eye Hospital, Tirupati (a project supported by Pratima & Venkat Srinivasan)  

Established a 160 sqft Low Vision clinic for patient assessment, functional visual evaluations, and counseling for children with CVI at the Early Intervention Centre. Introduced in-office vision therapy for local patients and initiated online vision therapy for children with CVI through a dedicated special educator from the Low Vision team in Madurai. Plans are underway to appoint a full-time special educator at AEH, Tirupati. 

CME Activities: 

  • Engaged in educational activities, including attending the ‘Unlocking the mysteries of CVI’ CME at Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai, and subsequently conducting classes for fellows, refractionists, and our ‘Low Vision Clinic’ staff.  
  • Also, participated in the Neuro-In Sight CME at Aravind Eye Hospital, Tirupati, in July 2023, showcasing available Low Vision Devices to raise awareness among local ophthalmologists and medical colleges for improved referrals to our clinic.  
  • Notably, generated interest among postgraduates and private consultants unfamiliar with the rehabilitation modalities for visually impaired individuals. 

 Aravind Eye Hospital, Pondicherry (a project supported by Pratima & Venkat Srinivasan)  

  • One month of Training:  Ms. Monika, an Optometrist underwent one month of training (September 2023) in low vision assessment for adults with Visual impairment in AEH, Madurai. 
  • The team attended – a day CME on “Unlocking the mysteries of CVI” on September 2023 conducted at Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai. 
  • The center has commenced operations and plans are underway to identify a rehabilitation specialist. 

LVPEI Hyderabad   (The Vasantha-Krupasagar Palakurthi Vision-Aid Center is supported by Anuradha and Prashanth Palakurthi)  

  • The Smart Vision Device Distribution and Cultural event was successfully organized by the center on July 8, 2023. The devices were distributed through LVPEI’s project with Vision-Aid, benefiting a total of 46 identified beneficiaries. 
  • The computer training program at the KVC campus, Vijayawada continues successfully for Jul- Sept quarter, and certificates are distributed to candidates. 
  • The smartphone distribution event was held successfully for 11 beneficiaries at Hyderabad campus on 28th Sep, 2023 
  • Sponsored professional training programs continue to specifically nominate candidates of newly added hospital partners of Vision-Aid. Nearly 70 assistive devices were distributed in the quarter  
  • Contrast Sensitivity Research Project: 

An additional 148 children have been tested for contrast sensitivity parameters till 30th September 2023 which included 47 children with vision impairment. So far, we have got a total of 2378 children recruited in this study. The team of CS research has bagged awards and presented at prestigious conferences as below. 

  • Dr. Deiva of the research team, received a travel fellowship award for the presentation, “Low contrast visual acuity in children with and without vision impairment” in 14th International Conference on Low vision held in Denver, USA between 24th – 27th July 2023. The title of her second oral presentation in this meeting was “Conventional V/S Digital tests for Near Contrast Sensitivity in Children.” 
  • Received the best oral presentation award: “Contrast Sensitivity and Low Contrast Visual Acuity in Children with and without Vision Impairment” in 4th International Optometry Conference on Eye Health in a Changing World conference, held at IITM, Chennai (Sep 24-26, 2023). 
  • Oral presentation: “Age-wise Distribution of Near Contrast Sensitivity in Children: Conventional vs. Digital Tests” in 4th International Optometry Conference on Eye Health in a Changing World conference, hosted by India Vision Institute at IITM, Chennai Sep 24-26, 2023). 
  • SCEH is one of the oldest and the largest eye care institutes in India, making an significant contribution to quality eye care 
  • Residential training program for visually impaired students for three-month period (Aug-Oct 23) at Ujaala Training Center of Dr. SCEH which offers computer training, braille training, orientation and mobility, and mobile technology training to the beneficiaries. 
  • In this quarter over 500 sessions were given for nearly 400 beneficiaries at the centre. Additionally, in this quarter we screened 493 children through executing community camps in collaboration with Project Prakash where over 70 beneficiaries were found to benefit from spectacles and over 60 children were recommended devices.  
  • Continued Screening of visually impaired children at the community level of assessment camp in Lucknow (UP) and Udaipur (Rajasthan )  

Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital (SCEH), Delhi (The Lachhman Dass Gupta Vision-Aid center is supported by Ram & Meetu Gupta)

Sankara Nethralaya Chennai (Kamala-Thiruvengada Chari Vision-Aid Center supported by Dr.(s) Kastoori Iyengar and Rangaprasad Sarangarajan)  

Sankara Nethralaya has won many accolades in recent years for its outstanding contributions to the field of ophthalmology. The Vision-Aid Centre at Sankara Nethralaya believes in the holistic management of vision rehabilitation and management of children with cerebral visual impairment. 

In this quarter, the center offered nearly 500 sessions to over 200 beneficiaries with underprivileged backgrounds who had low vision, total blindness, and children with multiple disabilities from various locations. This includes infants, young children, and adults who have received counseling, educational guidance, vocational guidance, training in orientation and mobility, independent life skills, home management training, assistive software/ mobile technologies, visual skills and LVDs training, developmental/ functional assessment, early intervention cum Visual developmental therapy, sensory integration, fine motor development, eye-hand coordination, behavior management, remedial education, and referral services. Nearly 70 assistive devices and aids were distributed. Additionally, over 1300 unaffording patients, accessed care through the center. 

Another highlighted activity is that smartphones were distributed on 21 Sep 2023 for ten beneficiaries  

One (of many) success stories: Out of the numerous success stories, the team proudly shares that Baby Sahana is a 2-year-old child with Microcephaly with developmental delay, referred from the Pediatric Ophthalmology department of Sankara Nethralaya, managed at Vision-Aid Center, shows significant improvements in vision and responsiveness, attributed to extensive therapy sessions. Notable improvements were seen with visual skills, achieved milestones of kneeling position, cooperation, and social interactions improved, with the child correctly identifying the trainer, offering social smiles, and maintaining eye contact. 

Sankara Nethralaya Kolkata (The Amiya Kumar Ghosh Vision-Aid Center supported by the Saxena Family Foundation) 

School screening camp conducted at Voice of World Inclusive School where 44 special children and 33 adult patients working in that school were screened and managed. With smiles and gratitude, the beneficiaries received   video magnifiers,   dome magnifiers, and   spectacles. 

284 beneficiaries were evaluated for the quarter, out of which nearly 50 individuals with underprivileged backgrounds. This includes infants, young children, and adults who have received services like counseling, educational guidance, vocational guidance, training in orientation and mobility, independent life skills, home management training, assistive software/ mobile technologies, visual skills, and LVDs training, developmental/ functional assessment, early intervention cum Visual developmental therapy, sensory integration, fine motor development, eye-hand coordination, behavior management, remedial education, and referral services. 

The Voluntary Health Services Hospital Chennai (The Srinivasan-Sundara Vision-Aid center is supported by Pratima and Venkat Srinivasan) 

  • Voluntary Health Services Hospital Chennai addresses the healthcare challenges faced by vulnerable and underserved communities. 
  • On the 2nd of July 2023, the VHS-Vision Aid team conducted a visit to Thyaga Sudar Home, organized by Sai Samithi. The team of Vision-Aid resource center, led by Dr. Ajitha, attended to a total of 20 patients during the camp. Among them, 18 patients who possessed smartphones were enrolled for getting a sponsor of SVG (Smart Vision Glasses). Additionally, two individuals were identified as needing spectacles and were recommended for a detailed check-up at the VHS hospital for further assistance. 
  • Distribution of Smart Vision Glasses and smartphones took place at VHS on 8th July 2023. The Smart Vision Glasses were donated by Manavaseva, and the smartphones were provided by Vision Aid. Twenty-six individuals received SVG, while 20 others received smartphones. The recipients consisted mainly of daily wage laborers associated with the Lions Blind Foundation, particularly from a facility engaged in the production of paper cups and plates in Chennai. Additionally, there were individuals who were actively seeking employment. 

CECF, Pune (The Dr. R.S. Ayyar Vision-Aid center previously supported by Ranjani & Anil Saigal) 

  • Community Eye Care Foundation aims to provide comprehensive quality eye care to all individuals, with a special emphasis on school children, including those with disabilities of visual impairment, and other multiple disabilities. It is equipped with a mobile van to perform outreach activities. 
  • 6 orientation programs were conducted in this quarter at DY  Patil Hospital for the ophthalmology department, Pankaj Asawa Dr. Agarwal eye unit, Dr. Baban Dolas Dr. Agarwal Eye unit, DY Patil College of Optometry and Mahaveer Eye Clinic, Atharva Nethralaya where demonstration of various low vision devices and orientation and mobility training was given too optometrists, ophthalmologists, optometry interns, staff members. 
  • One of the many success stories includes “A Senior journalist/editor 70 years old had a right eye posterior vitreous detachment and left eye macular scar presented with best-corrected distance vision 6/24,2/60 and Near vision N12, N24. Being in a profession that demanded reading all her life, it was very difficult for her to pass the time that did not involve reading. She was prescribed prismatic glasses through which she could read newspaper print as well” 
  • Hrithik Das, an individual with visual impairment, is appointed as a  computer trainer for the Vision-Aid Center and with support from Vision-Aid training team, soon begin training activities. 

Other highlights 

  • Training programs for the visually impaired across India  
  • In Q3 Jul- Sept 2023, nearly 200 persons were trained by Online training programs with specialized training programs in Computers, Mobile Technologies, Spoken English, advanced Programming, Digital Accessibility Testing, etc.  
  • Additionally,  residential training programs were also offered in our Vizag center.  
  • A national webinar on Chat GPT was conducted on September 21st, 2023.  
  • Conducted MT (Mobile Technology) offline training program at Lions Foundation for the Blind, Chennai for 17 in-house candidates.  
  • Conducted TOT (Train the Trainers) for the trainers who have joined Vision Aid to handle programs like CCA (Certificate course in Computer Application) and Mobile Technology to ensure uniform delivery.  

The Vision-Aid training team continuously works on Training process documents, Content development, New program initiations. 

  • Project Spring Board for Blind Schools: touched over 20 Blind schools – in addition to offering 103 assistive devices and aids which include RLF tactile braille books, smartphones, etc, several new initiatives like training in personal grooming/life skills, social skills, and advanced training programs help in providing holistic education for nearly 144 individuals this quarter. Screening for adding newer schools for the blind and visually impaired into PSB is continuing. 
  • Rollout of Smart Vision Glasses to youth has commenced in partnership with the Help the Blind Foundation in India.  In this quarter, nearly 100 Smart Vision Glasses were distributed to the underprivileged visually impaired, allowing them to use this AI-powered technology to gain more independence. Additionally, 8 and 40 smart vision devices were distributed to underprivileged youth via our Vizag center and through other NGOs respectively. 
  • Digital Accessibility Testing Center: DAT projects continue to deliver success projects. 
  • Job Placements: In this quarter 5 Students from DAT, Python & HTML batch have got job placements in the quarter. One student from our earlier IBPS NI batch got selected as credit officer in Bank of India. 

Thank you so much for your support which makes all these accomplishments possible! 

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.

Vision-Aid Newsletter

Vision-Aid Course Catalog

Vision-Aid Model

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.