Vision-Aid’s Journey of Empowerment at Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai

At the heart of Chennai’s bustling metropolis, one of the sanctuaries of hope and support for the visually impaired, is Vision-Aid’s Resource Center at Sankara Nethralaya (SN), where the visually impaired are served by a very capable multi-disciplinary team to undertake a journey towards empowerment and independence. This is one of two resource centers in Chennai Eye Hospitals (the other one being at VHS Hospital). SN 2023 Award.

SN 2023 Award

2023 was a great year for SN. Adding to many prior accolades, Sankara Nethralaya (SN) was awarded the ‘Single Specialty of the Year’ at the 13th MT India Healthcare Awards, and this famous hospital attracts patients from all over India. Vision-Aid is proud to partner with SN to run centers in both Chennai and Kolkata.” 

About the center in SN Chennai:  

The SN Vision-Aid center is called the “Kamala-Thiruvengada Chari Vision-Aid Resource Center” and is located at the Shenoy Nagar campus of Sankara Nethralaya in Chennai, India. This center was dedicated to the loving memory of Mrs. T. Kamala & Mr. R. Thiruvengada Chari by their daughter Dr. Kastoori Iyengar and son-in-law Rangaprasad (Ranga) Sarangarajan, who live in the Boston area.” 

2023 Accomplishments 

In 2023, the center served over 2700 beneficiaries, including infants, children, and adults, the center provide a spectrum of services. From counseling and educational guidance to vocational training, and from assistive technologies to early intervention therapies, the center is a hub of holistic support for those with low vision or total blindness and the team includes optometrists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, rehabilitatinists and assistive technology trainers.  

Touching Lives: Success Stories 

Here are just a couple of stories from among the 2700+ served at the center, which stood out to us. 

This 2-year-old child who was diagnosed with developmental delay received early intervention and visual perception therapy initially, followed by several sessions of visual developmental therapy, visual perception skills, eye-hand coordination, and physiotherapy. The parents have observed significant improvement in the child’s visual skills and are grateful for the quality service offered at the center. 

This 4-year-old child diagnosed with Microcephaly and squint was referred to the Vision-Aid Resource Centre. Despite developmental challenges, the child demonstrated fine motor skills and visual perception by accurately handling small beads. Recognizing the need for Visual Developmental Therapy, the team counseled parents, and the child received therapy for several weeks, making substantial progress in concept-teaching activities and eye contact. Referrals to Occupational Therapy further improved pre-writing skills and coloring activities. 

Community Outreach and Awareness: 

Vision-Aid’s commitment extends beyond the walls of the center. Events like the distribution of smartphones and assistive devices on September 21st, 2023, highlight the center’s dedication to raising awareness and providing practical solutions to the visually impaired community. 

Closing Thoughts 

Vision-Aid at Sankara Nethralaya is not just about restoring sight; it’s about empowering lives. Each story, each life touched, speaks volumes of the center’s commitment to transforming the world of those who walk in darkness into one filled with hope and possibilities. Here are some more glimpses from 2023: 

Our sincere thanks to all members of the Sankara Nethralaya team and the Vision-Aid India team for their dedication and service, and to the generosity of our dear donors for their kind support! 

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

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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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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.

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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.

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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.