Visually Impaired coders shine at Inclusive STEM Confluence

“Inclusive STEM Confluence” is a very unique, one of a kind event, organized by five organizations – I-STEM, IIIT-B, Vision-Aid, Vision Empower and XRCVC. It has has three components. The center-piece is an inclusive hackathon that brings together visually impaired coders with software engineers from the Industry and students from IIIT and other colleges to code on exciting projects in a 24-hour hackathon setting. Confluence also includes a series of hi-tech workshops where visually impaired can learn about latest technical concepts like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Blockchain. It also has an Employer Connect Program which connects them with top Employers.

This year’s event was held on 17th and 18th January 2020. The event was co-sponsored by Intel, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley. It was also supported with employee and human resource participation from Oracle, Wipro and many others. The picture below shows Vision-Aid’s secretary Mr. V.L.Narasimhan, with Ms. Jayanthi, Senior Program Manager, Mr. Ramesh Kumar, Center Manager along with Mr. S.P.Singh head of Intel India CSR program, and Nithya an Intel developer. Nithya participated in the 24-hour coding event, enthusiastically writing code, along side Vision-Aid’s visually impaired participants.  

There were seven teams participating in the 24-hour hackathon. There were several interesting projects. Two teams included Vision-Aid students, who were paired with industry engineers from Intel and Oracle, as well as IIITB students to develop projects.

Vision-Aid’s team consisting of Ankit Deb and Kulwinder Singh along with Kartik Arora  and Intel developer Nithya,  bagged the third prize. The project name, Spot- Me, is a dedicated device that let’s the visually impaired know when they are being pointed at by another person nearby.  The second Vision-Aid team which included Nagababu and Laxmisagar, along with their mentors from Oracle and students from IIIT Bangalore, implemented  and demonstrated the proof of concept on the project named OS-IDEA for Object and Sign Identity detection with extended accessibility. The picture below shows the Vision-Aid team getting the prize at the event.  

The event also included several interesting workshops led by Microsoft volunteers including an employer exchange where job aspirants met employers, round table discussions on inclusion and a product expo which showcased many interesting ideas ranging from handwriting-to-text converters and tools to make complex diagrams accessible .

Pranav Savla, one of Vision-Aid’s youngest visually impaired student , who turned 14 on the last day of the event, presented a project “eFile Encryption and Decryption “.Pranav developed the project while taking the Harvard CS-50 class online. He was shared a series of audio updates throughout the event, and one of his messages really sums up the overall feeling “It was a really cool and informative event and its really cool to be here”.

“Wow, these blind coders are writing even better code than some of my team members” an enthusiastic comment was made by one of the project managers, participating in the Inclusive STEM Confluence event, who works for one of Bangalore’s top tech giants . This comment is one of the outcomes that is hoped for from these events i.e. to create awareness in industry professionals that blind or visually impaired coders are also very talented and can make strong contributions to the Information technology landscape.

Vision-Aid extends heartfelt congratulation to all it’s students, volunteers and team members, as well as participants and volunteers from all other fellow organizers – I-STEM, IIIT-B, Vision Empower and XRCVC, for another stellar, successful event. and which just wrapped up. 

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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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.