Teaching Excel to the Visually Impaired Over Zoom

During the past year VIsion-Aid volunteers have been teaching blind and low vision students skills online during the COVID pandemic. People wonder understandably, how exactly such training works, and if this is really effective. 

Please take a few minutes to watch this video to see close-up how visually impaired students are learning complex Excel skills online during COVID. This video is from the Vision-Aid Resource Center in Aravind Eye Hospital at Madurai. The conversation is in Tamil, and thanks to Vision-Aid volunteer Kavalapar, for adding English subtitles to make it accessible to all.


The teacher, who works as a Senior instructor at the resource center is also visually impaired himself. In this video he is teaching the student how to do complex Excel functions. While watching the video note how deft and confident and comfortable he is with using Zoom and Excel while teaching students online, all using just audio cues from the screen readers. 

Here is a testimonial sent by one of the beneficiaries from the class:

 “I have been a regular patient at Aravind since childhood. They had suggested integrated education in view of my vision impairment. I completed my schooling and college in braille mode of education. I wrote the exams with the help of Scribes.Two years back I was advised special software training in basic NVDA usage. I came to Aravind for 5 days and underwent the training. Now for my employment I wanted to learn more of MS office and mobile features. That’s when COVID pandemic started and the entire state went into lockdown. I could not go back to Aravind for further training. But the Rehabilitation team at Aravind started online training for special software. Initially I was very apprehensive as to how much it will be possible and how much I can understand through online mode. But the rehab team at Aravind’s Vision-Aid center was very committed and they introduced me to the zoom platform. The trainers initially guided me how to install and work with zoom. Once the training session started I realized that I was able to understand clearly, communicate with the trainers and I stared learning as good as conventional in-office training session. , I learned the MS-Excel software, MS-Word and using whatsapp on computer. I also learnt to explore other online platforms. The only problem I faced was poor network connectivity at times. Apart from that I had no problems with the quality of training provided. This kind of online training has helped me improve my job skills during this lock down, without leaving my home. This is a boon to people who cannot personally come to Aravind. It also eliminates problems of finding accommodation and travel. I really thank the Aravind Vision-Aid centre, for initiating and providing their services even during tough times like COVID pandemic.”

Despite the challenges posed by COVID, Vision-aid is gratified to see that many students continue to learn online through this and several other programs. 

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