Traditionally, blind or visually impaired students have always had to rely on scribes, someone who would read and write for them, to take exams. Students, often faced difficulty using scribes. The scribes were not trained and qualified. They would interpret and enter answers incorrectly, leaving the visually impaired students frustrated.
Vision-Aid’s Spring semester of programming classes is currently underway. There are 15 students enrolled from all over India, and an equal number of volunteer mentors experienced in teaching programming from both the US and India, in the 10-week long training.
This is the fourth such batch. The classes are progressing wonderfully.
Every year December 3rd is observed as the International Day of people with disability. On this occasion, this year, the Vision-Aid team was delighted to announce the launch of a new state-of-the art Vision-Aid Digital Resource Center in the city of Agra, India.
During the annual event in July 2017, Boston-based philanthropists Vandana and Vivek Sharma, generously pledged support to launch a new Vision-Aid Resource Center in their home-town of Agra. This set in motion a series of planning and implementation activities, which culminated, in just over 4 months, with the formal commissioning of the center. The new center is located on the premises of the Louis Braille Blind School in Agra.
While the Vision-Aid team in Massachusetts has been bustling with various activities, like the annual fundraiser program, Boston accessibility conference and a busy fall semester in our programming course for the visually impaired, the Vision-Aid programs in India have also been busy with many initiatives this fall. Our team members and partners across India have conscientiously been making strides in different areas. Here is an update highlighting some of their work:
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."
Our Space Our Place, a Vision-Aid partner, hosted a resource fair last week at Tobin Community Center in Boston. Our Space Our Place, a non-profit organization , offers an accessible and fun environment for visually impaired school students in the greater Boston area enabling them to participate in team sports, arts, community service and mentoring .
The fair, aptly named Explore Your HEART, is aimed to exhibit some of the accessibility resources available to the differently enabled residents of the New England area that would help them experience and enjoy the arts, music, literature and lead a healthy wholesome life.
In July, the Vision-Aid team in Vizag met Secretary & Correspondent Ms. Shireesha Latha and Principal Ms. Subbalakshmi of the Nethra Vidyalaya, school for the visually impaired, in Rishikonda. They developed a plan to schedule regular training programs.
Later that month Vision-Aid team members installed the Vision-Aid online teaching stations at Netravidyalaya – Rishikonda on 01/08/2017.
Meet the new Vision-Aid star students - Nishant and Bharat. They completed the Vision-Aid Python programming class, with flying colors, and have now also secured over 95% marks in the MIT programming course over edX, receiving formal MITx / edX certification. Congratulations, and way to go - Bharat and Nishant - we are very proud of your accomplishments. Congratulations also to their amazing mentor/teacher from Vision-Aid, Sonal Patel.
Summer of 2017 will go down in Vision-Aid history as the time when great partnerships were created.
Vision-Aid has formed a partnership with the Indian vision research giant Sankara Nethralaya.
This is a high impact partnership with big reach, which will benefit many, in the poorest segment of patients.
Vision-Aid's partnership with Nethra Vidyalaya/ Jeyer Educational Trust (JET) blind schools is already proving a giant leap in the right direction.
Vision-Aid is currently running a workshop with Nethra Vidyalaya in Hyderabad.
Two members of Vision-Aid staff from Vizag, are at Nethra Vidyalaya. The workshop is being conducted by Vision-Aid members in collaboration with staff from Nethra Vidyalaya.
Nethra Vidyalaya, a non-profit organization, provides education for blind in India and is a part of the Jeeyar Educational Trust (JET). Nethra Vidyalaya provides educational programs from primary level to high school, junior & senior college, where hundreds of blind students are being trained every year. Nethra Vidyalaya is unique in terms of their hi-tech approaches. One example is students are trained to write their Intermediate Board exams and Degree exams on laptops without the help of scribes (helpers) – currently the only such program in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, with such arrangements. With its mission, to empower the visually challenged with the latest technology, it is now a growing NGO with over 1860 students. JET provides FREE boarding, lodging, and food, and study material, education for the blind in its facilities in both Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam (Vizag).
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