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Highlights from Vision-Aid Programs across India in Q1, 2023

During the past quarter, all of our Vision-Aid Resource Centers have been relentlessly offering services to the visually impaired, and during January to March 2023, Vision-Aid programs had the opportunity to serve 4846 visually impaired children and adults across 30 locations in India. (Currently Vision-Aid serves ~20,000 annually) 

Vision-Aid @ Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai

  • The Aravind Eye care system is the largest eye care system in the world. The Vision-Aid National Resource Centre is housed in the main campus of Aravind in Madurai but serves thousands across Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and many other parts of India who travel for treatments to Aravind.  
  • During the past quarter, 1800 beneficiaries received over 1900 sessions of interventions that includes comprehensive low vision assessments, counseling sessions, orientation and mobility training, sessions of early intervention, visual skills training, mobile technology training sessions, assistive aids and devices and computer training sessions.  
  • The Vision-Aid resource center conducts regular outreach activities and an online camp was conducted with the Govt Pediatric hospital and staff of District Early Intervention Centers of Virudhunagar, a rural district of the south zone of Tamil Nadu. The team of Dr. Sahithya, Ms. Flora, and an optometrist conducted the camp, and the children (all from low-income families) were referred to the resource center. Some children come to the center in person and tele-screening helps to reach others in remote and underserved areas.  
  • There are more than 100 vision centers in the Aravind eye care system. In an annual event, held during Q1 2023, 210 technicians of vision centers were offered continuous medical education on Vision Rehabilitation and Early Intervention. The program included an exhibition and a complete tour of the resource center. 
  • Dr. Sahithya, who oversees the Vision-Aid center at Aravind, came to Boston to undergo training in Boston Children’s Hospital and Perkins School for the Blind, and carries back many new skills to further the cause of visually impaired children at Aravind in coming months. Dr. Sahithya was also able to attend our recent Naatu Naatu event and enjoyed connecting with many in our team!

Vision-Aid @ LVPEI Hyderabad

  • LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) is a pioneer in eye care with a global reputation of excellence and the recipient of several national and international awards. It offers job-ready training programs for persons with vision impairment, professional development in low-vision rehabilitation, and distribution of hi-tech assistive devices. It also conducts research activities in the field of low vision in collaboration with Vision-Aid.
  • International World Braille Day is celebrated annually in recognition of the birth of Louis Braille, born on January 4th,1809. In Q1, 2023, LVPEI took the opportunity to recognize Braille Day by distributing the innovative AI-powered Smart Vision Glasses (SVG) to the needy visually impaired and blind beneficiaries, at their main facility in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad.
  • Several Training batches of Python programming for visually impaired students continued. 
  • The residential program of the LVPEI campus at Vijayawada is continuing for the next batches.
  • In collaboration with Vision-Aid, the Contrast sensitivity research project is advancing rapidly. So far, more than 1500 children have been recruited for this study and tested for contrast sensitivity, out of which 644 children were additionally screened in the past quarter.  The children with impaired contrast sensitivity were given support in terms of contrast enhancement. Interim analysis of the data is in progress so that the outcomes of this research can be presented at upcoming conferences.
  • Dr. Beula Christie, Head of Vision Rehabilitation at LVPEI came to Boston to undergo training at Perkins School for the Blind, and carries back these skills with her to further enhance programs for children with multiple disabilities and vision impairment, in coming months. Dr. Beula was also able to join us in our recent Naatu Naatu event, and enjoyed connecting with many in our team!
  • Thanks to the Professional training team at LVPEI which also helps to train our Optometrists and SMEs from all other Vision-Aid centers across India. 

Vision-Aid @ Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, Delhi

  • This quarter saw a very exciting milestone – the launch of the newest version of our AI-powered Gen 3 Smart vision glasses (SVG) by Shri Ashok Khanna and the distribution of SVG to several underprivileged visually impaired in Delhi.
  • Another highlighted activity was the organization of screening camps that benefitted more than 480 individuals. The distribution of 217 Low Vision Devices was conducted at Gorakhpur (UP) on 15th March 2023 by the Shroff-Vision-Aid Delhi team in collaboration with Project Prakash & Basic Education Department Gorakhpur
  • Ms. Simpy Singh, newly hired rehab specialist from the Vision-Aid resource center of Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital has completed three months Blended Training program on Early Intervention of Children with MDVI at the Vision-Aid resource center of LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad.
  • During the past quarter, at the resource center over 350 beneficiaries received over 470 sessions of interventions that include comprehensive low vision assessments, counseling sessions, orientation and mobility training, mobile technology training sessions, assistive aids and devices, and computer training sessions.

Vision-Aid Resource Centers @ Sankara Nethralaya Chennai and @ Sankara Nethralaya Kolkata   

  • This center has a special focus on visually impaired children and infants. While there are hundreds of success stories, the photo depicts the story of a 2-year-old child who was diagnosed with developmental delay. The child received early intervention and visual perception therapy initially, followed by several sessions of visual developmental therapy, visual perception skills, eye-hand coordination, and physiotherapy. The parents have observed significant improvement in the child’s visual skills and are grateful for the quality service offered at the center.
  • The newly launched Vision-Aid resource center has commenced operations at the Kolkata campus. They are happy to share a story of a 21-year-old pursuing a 2nd year who was diagnosed with chorioretinal coloboma, a complicated cataract, and treated for Retinal detachment. He was referred to the Vision-Aid resource center, vision was perception of light in the right eye and no perception of light in the left eye. He was trained to use smart vision glasses, and a complete and clear demonstration was given. He was also trained in independent life skills, computer technology, and mobile technology.
  • Beneficiaries of Vision-Aid include infants, young children, and MDVI children who receive visual developmental therapy, sensory integration, fine motor development, eye-hand coordination, behavior management, remedial education, and referral services for additional interventions like physiotherapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. In the past quarter, over 250 beneficiaries received over 500 interventions.
  • Sankara Nethralaya is a pivotal partner of Vision-Aid and to add to their existing accolades, was recently voted as the recipient of the “Single Speciality of the Year” award at the 13th MT India Healthcare Awards of 2023.

Vision-Aid @ The Voluntary Health Services Hospital Chennai

  • One of the highlighted activities in this quarter was the annual multi-specialty camp for mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) was conducted by the Centre of Excellence for rare disorders, Fetal care research foundation, VHS, the center of Excellence for rare disorders, and the MPS support group at VHS. For this specialized program, A total of 35 patients were seen on Jan 25th and Jan 26th, 2023 at the center. Most of them had various grades of corneal clouding, for patients with less corneal clouding and visual impairment glasses were prescribed 
  • Regular referral system developed with IIT Madras. Visually impaired students visit the Vision-Aid resource center and they undergo comprehensive low vision assessment and the role of assistive devices and technology is assessed. 
  • The interventions offered to patients at VHS who come from underprivileged backgrounds in Chennai and surrounding areas include comprehensive low vision assessments,  computer training programs, assistive devices and aids, education and counseling sessions, and assistive device training.  

Vision-Aid @ CECF, Pune

  • The community outreach activities of the CECF Vision-Aid resource center continued in the past quarter and the aim was to reach out to the underserved regions in and around Western Maharashtra. 
  • On January 10th, a camp for low vision examination was conducted at Patashabai Lunkad Blind School, where a total of 50 students and 15 blind staff members were screened. This camp aimed to examine students who were unable to attend the previous visit. In January 23rd, a low vision camp was organized at Malegaon Blind School, during which 21 blind children and 4 adults underwent examination. This camp specifically targeted students who couldn’t attend the previous visit. 
  • In February, a total of 29 legally blind college students were examined at SP College Pune. Among them, 11 students were advised to use optical aids, 8 students were recommended electronic aids, and 18 students were provided O&M (Orientation and Mobility) training. 
  • The CECF team revisited 8 schools for the blind to assess student compliance, and another visit was conducted in March 2023 
  • The team is happy to share the story of an 18-year-old who was diagnosed to have Retinoschisis, a condition where the light-sensing layer of the eye, the retina is split, due to genetic causes. After having managed at the resource center for low vision, he was given a referral to get a disability certificate from the government. The team is happy to share that despite his condition of low vision, he is pursuing his higher studies in medicine. 

Training, Assistive Devices , Perkins Project IDI and Blind Schools  Programs across India

  • In the Q1 2023, 270 persons were trained by Online training programs with specialized training programs in Computers, Mobile Technologies, Spoken English, advanced Programming, Digital Accessibility Testing, etc . Thanks also to Nasscom Foundation and several donors in India for their generous support. Additionally,  residential training programs were also offered in our Vizag center.
  • In Agra, Project IDI continued in partnership with Perkins School for the Blind. A total of 104 children with severe disabilities and visual impairment were screened with counselling and rehabilitation services.
  • Project Spring Board touched 20 Blind schools – offering nearly 200 assistive devices and aids which include RLF tactile braille books, smartphones, etc. Several new initiatives like training in personal grooming/life skills, social skills, and advanced training programs help in providing holistic education. 
  • Smart Vision Glasses Gen 3 was launched in Delhi by Shri Ashok Khanna in a successful launch event and 20 beneficiaries were given the new versions. Early feedback on Gen 3 has been very positive and the SHG team continues to work on new versions.
  • A rollout of Smart Vision Glasses to over 200 blind youth has commenced in partnership with Help the Blind Foundation in India – more details on this program will be shared in the next quarter.  100 Smart Vision Glasses were distributed to the underprivileged visually impaired, allowing them to use this AI-powered technology to gain more independence.
  • Our DAT center which employs blind youth delivered two successful projects to US clients in the quarter.

None of this would be possible without the loving village of supporters and team members in Vision-Aid. Our 100% all-volunteer team in the US, allows us to run Vision-Aid USA with near-zero overheads. Our dedicated team members in India, our partners, perform their work with utmost dedication. Thank you all for being part of this Vision-Aid family, and helping us scale new heights each quarter and each year! We have come a long way since our early days of 1 center and ~100 beneficiaries, and this growth is a testament to the combined goodwill and contributions of so many like-minded persons like you!

The Vision-Aid Team 

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