Meet Vision-Aid's Amazing Python graduates and Their Mentors
Over the past several months, Vision-Aid's visually impaired students have been training in the Python training program (Intermediate level) and have been honing their coding skills by developing solutions for various real-life problems faced by the visually impaired. Working under the guidance of experienced volunteer Vision-Aid mentors, the students worked in teams that brainstormed and selected interesting problems to solve. They developed solutions using agile software development methodologies. The projects include the use of machine learning to recognize images for the visually impaired, converting text to speech, solving the indentation problem in writing Python programs and developing search and catalog keywords in various types of documents to make them more accessible.
Since the students cannot see their computer screens in the traditional sense, they use screen readers, which read back the code to the students, as audio cues. This makes programming, which is already a complex and delicate task even more challenging. Yet, these students persisted and with their commitment and perseverance, and with the loving support and guidance from their volunteer mentors , they have reached this amazing milestone. Sunday’s event is a celebration of all the hard work that has gone into the projects and during the event, several projects will be demonstrated and show-cased.
The graduation ceremony for its Python Program (Intermediate) level students, which will be held on Sunday March 7, 2021 at 10 AM EST, will have the legendary educator Dr. Charles R. Severance (popularly known as Dr. Chuck) as its keynote speaker.
Event Overview: Graduation ceremony of Vision-Aid's Python Intermediate level students
Date: Sunday March 7, 2021
Time: 10 AM - 11:15 AM US EST (8:30 - 9:45 PM IST)
Keynote by Dr. Chuck
Dr. Charles R Severance (popularly known as "Dr. Chuck") will be the keynote speaker. Dr. Chuck is a legendary teacher of programming, with over 2 million students on Coursera alone (many more across other MOOCs) and is consistently rated as having the most popular programming course in the world. This is just one of 21 other courses he teaches on edX, Coursera and other MOOCs and at the University of Michigan where he serves on their faculty. He has numerous accomplishments and awards to his credit. He is the Chair of the Sakai Project Management Committee (PMC). Previously he was the Executive Director of the Sakai Foundation and the Chief Architect of the Sakai Project and worked with the IMS Global Learning Consortium promoting and developing standards for teaching and learning technology. Dr. Chuck is deeply committed to open source, high quality learning for all. He also has a deep passion for Accessibility and aspires to make his teachings universally accessible to all.
Dr. Chuck and Vision-Aid
The Vision-Aid Python program uses Dr. Chuck's materials, and he is personally a big cheer-leader, supporter and fan of the cause and its students, having visited Vision-Aid programs in India, and continues to remain engaged with Vision-Aid in many ways including helping its visually impaired students find gainful employment in the area of Digital Accessibility Testing and pledging his financial support to the cause, as a donor.
Meet the Students
Students in this graduating class have been working with Vision-Aid’s freely offered training program, for long durations (6 months to 1.5 years +) and one-on-one mentoring with expert volunteers. This graduating class includes:
Ankit is pursuing his B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering from Guru Ghasidas University, Bilaspur. He has been associated with Vision-Aid since 2019 as a student. He has completed Python Programming Beginners class. He also took advantage of several other Vision-Aid courses including Interview Preparations, Mentor Based Project and is currently enrolled in the Corporate Skills Development Program (CSDP) program.
Muskan is pursuing her B.Tech in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur. She is currently in the final semester. She joined Vision-Aid in December 2020, through the python training program, which is still ongoing
Arunkumar completed the Vision-Aid’s Python Beginners course, and also completed Vision-Aid’s Digital Accessibility Testing (DAT) course and is now graduating from the Python intermediate program. He is also currently undergoing Vision-Aid’s Corporate Skills Development Program (CSDP). Arun is currently working as Quality Analyst in Amnet Systems Pvt. Ltd. in Chennai.
Samira completed Python Programming Beginners Course in March 2019 and Python project (SDLC) in Nov 2020 with Vision-Aid. She is working as Project coordinator in Cisco Systems Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore and also volunteers now with Vision-Aid to help as a program coordinator for the Python Beginners program.
Aswathy V K
Aswathy has completed the Vision-Aid Python beginner’s course, digital accessibility testing (DAT) course, and mentor based project and currently doing Vision-Aid’s Corporate Skills Development Program (CSDP) She also got an opportunity to participate in hackathon conducted in 2019 and 2020 at IIIT B in collaboration with I-Stem, Vision Empower and IIIT-B. Ashwathy is a BCA graduate and currently not employed. She worked on a project by Vision-Aid as an accessibility tester.
Rohit is pursuing graduation in BTS(Tourism). He joined Vision-Aid in 2019 for Python for programming Beginners course and subsequently for the Intermediate program in 2020.
Akram completed the Python mentor-based project in 2020. He is a first-year student of Bachelor of Computer Applications.
Meet the program co-ordinators
A complex program like this requires a lot of coordination, and the coordinators working the magic behind the scenes who ensured that all aspects of the program were effectively brought together included Vision-Aid’s dedicated volunteers Mr. Giri Lingamarla from Boston, and Ms. L.R. Jayanthi from Hyderabad, India.
Giri has over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology industry. He is currently working as a Director in Capgemini, a major IT services company. He has an MBA from Wayne State University and a Master’s degree from IIT Madras. He has been a volunteer with the Vision-Aid Python programming track since 2015.
Mrs. L.R. Jayanthi is a retired IT professional living in Hyderabad, India. She did her B.E. in College of engineering, Guindy, Chennai and M.S in BITS Pilani. She worked for Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) for more than 25 years before moving on to the IT industries. Worked with Analog devices as Technical Director and retired as Head India design Center - Matisse Networks. Throughout her professional and post retirement period she has strived to enable the underprivileged to achieve success in different walks of life. She has been with Vision-Aid Since July 2018. Her hobbies include reading, watching videos and traveling."
Meet the Volunteer Mentors
Vision-Aid’s mentors are a dedicated group committed to helping visually impaired students in their journey to learn programming.
Palani is a software architect in the space of data management, visualization and advanced analytics. He has 20 years of progressive career spanning across Technology Consulting, Solution Architecture, Data Integration, Analytics & Visualization. He has a B.E. degree from Govt. College of Technology, and MBA from University of Melbourne. He has been involved with Vision-Aid family for over a year now.
Dr. Swaroop Vattam
Dr. Swaroop Vattam is a scientist at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. His primary research interests are in the areas of machine learning, graph theory, and algorithms. He obtained his PhD from Georgia Institute of Technology in computer science in 2012 and is an active contributor to the AI research community. He has served on program committees for several AI conferences, including the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Conference, International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI), and Advances in Cognitive Systems (ACS) annual meetings. He is the recipient of several honors, including the National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Publication Award (2014); National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Grant (2013); Best Paper award at the 8th Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Conference on Creativity and Cognition (2011); and a recipient of Outstanding Dissertation (2012), and Outstanding Graduate Research Assistant (2012) awards from the College of Computing at Georgia Tech.
Santosh Vattam has been a software engineer for over 8 years. He has an MS degree from University of Pennsylvania and currently works at Google. He has been part of the Vision-Aid family for over 3 years now. He was a Python course mentor for the last 3 years and now he is also a mentor for the Python project track.
Shobha Sudhir has been teaching and mentoring visually impaired and at-risk individuals for many years. She is passionate about various causes. She is involved with many different non-profits serving a variety of different causes. Shobha has diverse experience. She has an M.S in computer science and an MBA. She has more than two decades of experience working as a scientist and an engineer in various industries.
Sudhir Varma has been a volunteer director with Vision-Aid since 2006. Apart from being the treasurer, he teaches and mentors visually impaired students. He has a Master’s degree in Computer Science and has over 30 years of experience in the technology sector. He started as a scientist in Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) before he started working for leading software companies. He is very passionate about helping others in whatever way he can and volunteers for various causes.
About Vision-Aid’s Python program
Vision-Aid has been teaching Python to the visually impaired, free of cost, with the help of its over 20 committed volunteer mentors for over four years. Each year, many visually impaired students apply from all over India to join this program. Vision-Aid follows Dr. Chuck’s course materials and also encourages its students to continue their education on MOOCs like Coursera and edX.
Visually impaired learners interested in this program may read more about it and apply online at this link: https://training.visionaid.org/python/