NEWS & EVENTS
Anubhav 2019 was a program designed based on information gathered over June 2018 – August 2019 from the VE school interventions which culminated in design of the 2 days of workshop on various learning activities.
The program mentioned below was conducted with sincere efforts from the team and our partners Enability Foundation, and whole hearted participation from the students of 6th grade of Shri Ramana Maharishi Academy for the Blind (SRMAB) and their teacher, Mrs. Brinda Magesh.
Venue: No.33, 26thA Cross, Geetha Colony, Jayanagar 4th Block, Bengaluru
20th September 2019
9:30 – 10:00 Mindfulness
10:00 – 11:00 Reading Tactile Books
11:00 – 11:15 Break
11:15 – 12:30 Art – Drawing/Colouring
12:30 – 1:00 Lunch Break
1:00 – 3:00 Maths Activities
3:00 – 3:15 Break
3:15 – 4:30 Fun Quiz & Games
21st September 2019
9:30 – 10:30 Origami
10:30 – 10:4 Break
10:45 – 12:45 Introduction to the Digital medium
12:45 – 1:15 Lunch Break
1:15 – 3:15 Science Activities
3:15 – 3:30 Break
3:30 – 4:30 Feedback and Wrap-Up
We are sincerely grateful to Ms. Gracy from the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped, Chennai for being present on both days of the workshop and to Ms. Anandhi Vishwanathan, President of Rotary Abilities, Bangalore, and Mr. Balaji Varadharajan for donating 10 geometry kits for the students of SRMAB and for contributing towards special drawing paper for all the pilot schools of Vision Empower.
Inclusive Learning for the Blind, Let’s Embrace the Growing Needs of Stem Education, Impacts on Inclusion and Social Integration
Vidhya and Supriya were speakers in a panel Discussion on “Inclusive Learning for the Blind, Let’s Embrace the Growing Needs of Stem Education, Impacts on Inclusion and Social Integration” at the SayEverything Convention 2019, jointly organised by SayEverything Group and Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled on September 14, 2019.
Geometry is an undeniably important branch of STEM education. The study of geometry opens up careers in several fields such as architecture, engineering, etc. It is a part of STEM, which, moreover, has been neglected considerably in the education of visually impaired children.
Vision Empower, recognising the importance of teaching geometry to the children we work with, evaluated the different geometry boxes available in the market with feedback from special educators and Xavier’s Resource Center for the Visually Challenged, Mumbai. VE identified a set that is accessible and easy to use.
Vision Empower is sincerely grateful to Mr. Balaji Varadarajan for contributing to this endeavour of making STEM accessible, by donating geometry boxes to all the schools using funds he has earned for his contribution as a Programming language trainer for visually impaired persons. The first 10 sets of geometry boxes were handed over to Jyothi Seva School for the Blind, on his behalf by his father. Geetha R from VE was pleased to introduce the donor to the students and get them started on this path of learning which is now no longer barred to them.
In what could be a boost in Science education for the visually impaired, the Indian Institute of Information Technology-Bangalore (IIIT-B) has developed a technology to help generate tactile images of diagrams in Science textbooks faster. Read the article here.
VE and Enability Foundation incubated at IIT Madras signed an MoU on 6th of August 2019 to collaborate on creation of tactile diagrams using Tactograph, a product designed by Enability. The two teams will work on making more tactile diagrams available to VI teachers and students for Science and Math. The team at Enability Foundation led by Prof Anil Prabhakar and associates of Vision Empower will jointly work on related programs to use innovative low cost technology to make STEM education accessible to students with visual impairment.
Prof Amit Prakash of IIITB and Prof Prof Prabhakar discussed possibilities of further joint research on assistive technologies.
Vision Empower and Enability have agreed to jointly create an Experience Center for persons with disabilities.
Vision Empower signed an MoU with Matruchhaya to Create Braille books for Mathematics and Science for visually impaired students at schools for the blind in Karnataka and for Skill Enhancement of school teachers from special schools for the blind to teach Science and Mathematics to visually impaired students through classroom programmes.
Vision Empower organized the Pragya 2019 Teacher Trainings in collaboration with Canara Bank Relief and Welfare Association (Matruchhaya) from 26th June 2019 to 28th June 2019.
Science and Mathematics teachers from 8 special schools for the visually impaired attended the training on directives from the Department for Welfare of Differently Abled and Senior Citizens, Government of Karnataka. 14 of the 16 teachers who attended the training were visually impaired.
Over 3 days the teachers of 4th 5th and 6th standard were introduced to special pedagogic needs of teaching Science and Mathematics following the Karnataka State syllabus to children with visual impairment. In addition to being introduced to the Braille books on Science and Mathematics specially created for the first time, the teachers were provided teaching aids, tactile diagrams, models and methods of experiential learning on two units of each grade. VE will handhold with the schools throughout the year to ensure teachers are provided the support they require.
I for Inclusion was organized by Vision Empower for its staff, researchers and volunteers on 20th May to 22nd May 2019. The event was intended to create awareness among participants on the realities of visually impaired persons, bust myths about their limitations and provide teachers with the knowledge of the accommodations required to teach them Science and Math. The training was attended by a total of 27 participants spread across various sessions. The trainers were experts, Ms. Neha Trivedi and Ms. Rebecca Maria from the Xavier’s Resource Center for Visually Challenged, Mumbai, who have worked with visually impaired students and their teachers since the 2006. Educational Co-ordinators, technologists and content creators from Vision Empower and its partner organizations attended the training sessions to demystify the world of the blind and visually challenged and learn about the various technologies which exist to help them in their educational journey. Participants were introduced to the XRCVC Special Skill Curriculum Framework, Braille and Nemeth code, Introduction to Geometry and Laboratory skills and experience sharing by XRCVC on their intervention models.
VE is grateful to Dr. Swami Manohar of Microsoft Research for graciously attending the training on 21st May. We thank our guest speaker Shri V . S. Basavaraju, State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Government of Karnataka, who addressed the gathering on 21st of May and shared his experiences and thoughts on STEM education for the visually impaired students in Karnataka.
Vision Empower took part in the “Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2019” program arranged at IIIT Bangalore on 15th May 2019. Aditya Manpuria of Vision Empower presented the journey of creation of the Subodha accessible Learning Management System to representatives from various organizations working on advocacy and accessibility solutions.
Vision Empower addresses a gathering of teachers, government officials and NGOs at the Office of the Director for Welfare of Differently Abled and Senior Citizens.
The workshop , “Early Intervention and Access to Education ” held at The Association Of People With Disability (APD) was intended to create a more inclusive education system in India through culture, policies and, best practices.
Supriya and Vidhya participated in the workshop along with stakeholders such as students, special educators, inclusive schools and other disability NGO’s, to understand the challenges that children with disabilities face related to early intervention and education’.
Vidhya spoke about the challenges of VI persons studying STEM , lessons from her personal journey and in an event organized by the Blind Graduates Forum of India, conducted by XRCVC, Mumbai and supported by Sight Savers. She shared information about the various Vision Empower initiatives, and the rationale behind the educational programs and the technology research portfolio at VE.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has announced that, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility efforts under its Living Progress program, the company has deployed end-to-end wireless infrastructure from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company at the I-MACX Studios located at the International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore (IIIT-B) Innovation Centre in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
RISE (Research and Innovation, Society & Entrepreneurship) Feb 15 2019 intended to showcase IIITB’s focus & contribution across these dimensions. Vision Empower took part in the Roundtable on “Conversational Interfaces (Voice, Bots) for Good”
Dates: February 7 & 14
The third trimester teacher training program for teachers of Science and Math for Class 5 as part of VE-Pilot project was conducted at Sree Ramana Maharishi Academy for the Blind, CA-1B, Cross, 3rd J P, 3rd Phase, JP Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560078
Jan 19-21, 2019.The second edition of Inclusive STEM Hackathon 2019 was organized at IIITB in collaboration with our partners IStem, XRCVC and IIITB. Blind and visually impaired developers, industry professionals and CS students came together to work on exciting and challenging problems.
Vision Empower conducted its first Teacher training program for Science and Math teachers for the VE-Pilot project between 27th and 29th of June. This addressed the content for the first trimester for fifth standard for the Karnataka State syllabus.
Partners: Matruchhaya – Canara Bank Relief and Welfare Society
Vision Empower and Vividha Trust organized Anubhav – a Science and Math summer camp for children of 5th grade for the visually impaired children in Bangalore from 25th March 2018 to 30th March 2018. The camp, attended by 10 students, provided an out of school learning environment to absorb certain concepts of Science and Math through experiential learning. Along with the classroom activities on Science and Math, the camp included fun and games and outdoor activities such as a visit to an animal petting farm.
I-STEM or Inclusive Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is a self-advocacy group of individuals with visual impairment, who have chosen to pursue careers in STEM related subjects. On January 20 & 21st 2018, the I-Stem hackathon was held at IIIT BangaIore. It was co-organized by E-Health Research Centre at IIITB, Vision Empower, Vision Aid and Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC). The hackathon highlighted the need to develop awareness in the information technology industry about the necessity to recognize the capabilities of visually impaired programmers and provide the necessary accommodations, so that they may not be denied the opportunity to pursue their chosen occupations.
The twelve hackathon teams comprised of five participants in each team, comprising of two visually impaired programmers, two sighted programmers from the industry and one engineering student from IIIT Bangalore. The twenty five visually impaired participants who came from across the country, are either currently studying at premier institutes such as IITs, NITs, IIITs, NSIT or are working at leading technology companies, government and public sector organizations and other startups. Twenty three sighted engineers from eleven companies including Deutsche Bank, Honeywell, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, Mindtree, Oracle, Salesforce, Sasken, TCS, Uber and Wipro participated in the event.
Prof. S. Sadagopan(Director, IIIT Bangalore), Mr. Ajay Seth, IAS (Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Dept., Govt. of Karnataka), Dr. Y.S. Rajan (Honorary Distinguished Professor, Indian Space Research Organization) and Dr. Chieko Asakawa (IBM Fellow) shared their perspectives at the inaugural event.
A panel discussion on “Disability and the Tech Industry: Employment and Product Perspectives” was organized in which representatives of corporate HR practices and Inclusiveness were invited to share their thoughts on the demands and practices in the industry and the necessity of creating inclusive workplaces. The honorable panelists were Mr. Ankit Rajiv Jindal, Dell/Friends for Inclusion, Mr. Karthik Padmanabhan (Google), Ms. Meenu Bhambhani (Mphasis), Mr. P. Rajasekharan (V-Shesh), Mr. Rakesh Paladugula (Adobe Systems/Maxability), Ms. Sonia Sahgal (Microsoft), and Ms. Vidya Rao (Wipro).
Besides informal networking and exchange of ideas between the organizing partners of the event, the hackathon provided a forum for students, academicians and industry practitioners to confer about the challenges faced by the visually impaired in society, and suggest ways to promote STEM education among them. Recruiting managers from several firms joined on both days to interact with the budding engineers and others who are already employed, to understand their needs, capabilities and potential, and to equip themselves to take the first steps in providing for an inclusive workspace. Several visually impaired participants received interview requests during or soon after the event.
The twelve teams presented their creations to the panel of judges comprising of Prof. T K Srikanth, Professor & Faculty-in-charge Computing, IIITB, Mr. George who leads the Economic and Technology Inclusion and Accessibility initiatives at Enable India and Mr. Srinivasu Chakravarthula, Lead Accessibility Consultant, IAAP – International Association of Accessibility Professionals.
First prize: Rishabh Jain (IIT Roorkee), Rutwik Ravi Teja Vempati (IIT Madras), Aman Datta (Honeywell), Ramakrishna Kulkarni (Wipro), Mayank Senani (IIIT Bangalore) : A product using computer vision and NLP to identify objects in an image, determine relationship between them and return a description of this relationship.
Second prize: Manjot Singh (DPS Gurgaon), Harsha HD (Bangalore University), Abhijit Dasgupta (Honeywell), Sai Krishna (Juniper Networks), Mohammad Khalid (IIIT Bangalore) : A novel inclusive game of snakes and ladders with Harry Potter.
Third prize: Team 4-Kartik Sawhney (Stanford University), Abhishek Agarwal (Securities and Exchange Board of India), Sidharth Raja (Uber), Shashidhar Gurumurthy (Salesforce), Tarun pandey (IIIT Bangalore) : A product for currency identification for the blind which is especially useful after demonetization, since the identifying features to distinguish currency by the blind are no longer available.