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Vision-Aid announces Panelists for Boston Accessibility Conference

The Boston Accessibility Conference on Saturday October 27th at the Fidelity Offices in downtown Boston, MA. Vision-Aid is sponsoring a panel "Making MOOCs more accessible to the visually impaired".

Making MOOCs more accessible.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are opening an exciting world of learning for many. Great strides have been made in the area of accessibility. However barriers still remain which can make some of the content in MOOCs inaccessible to persons with disabilities. A concentrated effort to overcome as many of the remaining barriers in accessibility as possible, can make MOOCs a vibrant and inclusive learning place for all. The World Health Organization estimates that there are over 250 million people worldwide with low vision and around 40 million who are blind. How can we make MOOCs content and platforms fully accessible to this segment?

A high-powered panel of experts will explore this subject from many perspectives:

  • the challenges and needs of visually impaired learners.
  • the innovations by MOOC platform providers.
  • the role of educational institutions, employers and technology providers, whose inputs are needed to offer a holistic solution.
  • the role of modern technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) in addressing these challenges.


Dr. Charles Severance (Dr. Chuck) - Panel Chair

Dr Charles Severance

Dr. Chuck is a legendary Coursera educator from the University of Michigan whose course “Programing for Everyone” taught via Coureera is rated by Class Central to be one of the top 20 MOOCs in the world.Dr. Charles "Chuck" Russell Severance is an American computer scientist and academician who currently serves as Clinical Associate Professor of Information at the University of Michigan. His programming course, offered over Coursera is very highly rated and popular. Dr. Severance studied at Michigan State University, gaining his BS in 1984, his MS in 1990, and his PhD in 1996, all in computer science. After graduation, he became an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Michigan State, also serving as Director of the Division of Engineering Computer Services. He left this role in 1999 to become Associate Director for Advanced Technology at the University of Michigan's Media Union. He left the University of Michigan in 2001 to serve as Director of Product Development for Strategic Interactive. In August 2002, he returned to the University of Michigan as the first Chief Architect of the Sakai Project, later becoming a member of the Sakai Foundation Board of Directors, and then its first Executive Director. Vision-Aid has taught Dr. Chuck’s course to our visually impaired students for over 5 semesters, and several students have gone on to become proficient in Python programming, and gone on to pursue higher educational opportunities. Vision-Aid's graduates, taught using Dr. Chuck's course,  participatedin events such as the Inclusive Stem (i-Stem) hackathons and securing internships and employment.

Keith W. Marion

Keith Marrion

Keith W. Marion is the Director of Inclusion for the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. He reports to the Chief Inclusion officer and supports an organization of 1,200+ employees where inclusion is a core value and business imperative. In his role as Director, Keith is responsible for strategic goal setting and organizational alignment for cross-functional business engagement, development, growth, and innovation. His approach utilizes Inclusion as a strategic business lever for employees, partners, communities, in the marketplace, across the enterprise, and with suppliers.

Keith graduated from Lincoln University, PA with Bachelor of Science degrees in both Business Administration and Finance as a double major. Keith is an active participant in many business and community affairs including YMCA Achievers Board member, Blue Hills Boys & Girls Club Board member, Project REACH, The New England Basketball Academy, and The Boston Bobcat Foundation. The Boston Business Journal and YMCA of Greater Boston have honored him for outstanding achievements.
Keith resides in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife Robin and son Mason.  He enjoys spending time with family and friends, adventure activities, sports and coaching. He is passionate about the work for visually impaired. 

Kartik Sawhney

Karthik Sawhney

Kartik Sawhney is a software engineer at Microsoft working on the Cortana team. He graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science last year focusing on artificial intelligence and human computer interaction. He is passionate about the intersection of AI and accessibility, and has worked on a variety of technical projects in the accessibility space over the years. He is the co-founder at I-Stem, an organization that seeks to promote and support blind students in India pursuing STEM courses and careers through technical training, mentorship, hands-on activities, awareness campaigns and by working closely with the Government, universities and corporates. He has not only taken MOOCs as a blind student, but is also running I-Stem's technical training program that integrates with several computer science classes available on these online platforms.

Aditi Shah

Aditi Shah

Aditi Shah is currently pursuing her Masters in Cyber Security at Georgia Institute of Technology. She also has a Masters degree in Information Technology from University of Mumbai. She has been an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker and has worked with Iraje as a Product Manager for 5 years. At Iraje Aditi led the development of a Privileged Access Management solution which secures some of the biggest Data Centers in India. She is passionate about Accessibility and volunteers with as a beta tester for ensuring accessibility of upcoming courses. She has been training visually impaired kids to use computers over the past 8 years and has also volunteered with Blind Graduate's Forum of India as Secretary. Aditi enrolled in Vision-Aid's Python Programming course for VisuallyImpaired students last Fall and since then has been striding on the path of Online learning. She has completed and earned several certificates on MOOC platforms like edX and Coursera. She believes that MOOCs have a great potential to transform the lives of Visually Impaired students, giving them quality education beyond any barriers that blindness brings in.

Ramakrishna (Ram) Raju

Ram Raju

Ram Raju is the founder and volunteer executive director of Vision-Aid a non profit serving the visually impaired.  Ram has over 25 years of experience as a Technical Architect in the IT industry and has a Bachelor's Degree in Electronics Engineering from BIT Mesra, India,  a Masters Degree in Computer Science from the Pennsylvania State University, and is currently pursuing his Masters Degree in Information Management Systems from the Harvard University Extension School. Ram is passionate about creating an inclusive environment for persons with vision related disabilities.


To register please use the link below. Registration is limited and seats are running out.


The Boston Accessibility Conference is being organized by Boston Accessibility Group. The conference is free, thanks to sponsors and other donors. All donations go toward the event itself and help pay for food, drinks, assistive technology, and more. 

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