Vision-Aid Python programming class got off to a flying start last month.
Vision-Aid, in collaboration with IIT Chennai and MIT, is offering an MIT computer science course, in programming, to qualified visually impaired students in India. Classes are offered free of cost, virtually, with high quality one-on-one mentoring to help these students learn a sophisticated new skill.
Applicants from all over India were invited and in response Vision-Aid received a large number applications. Students were screened and 8 were selected from 5 different locations, Bangalore, Chennai, Aligarh, Vizag and the state of Gujarat.
The classes are in progress and are currently in the second week of the 12 week course. The participating students’ disability range from total blindness to low vision conditions of varying degrees. There are also 2 instructors in the student pool who will in future become trainers. Our panel of 5 volunteer teachers and 2 observers are all experts in programming and doing an amazing job teaching. Students are getting world class materials from MIT, along with one-on-one mentoring from their teachers. Teachers are assisted by teaching assistants from IIT Chennai, undergraduate students who are volunteering with Vision-Aid. The teaching staff is spending several hours a week each week to prepare for the class, teach the material and collaborate with one another to provide the best possible teaching experience for our students.
The training will enable the students to participate in a hackathon, Shastra Summit, for the disabled to be held in IIT Chennai on Jan 2017. The long term goal is to help these students master new skills and make careers in fields with greater growth prospect.
Students are highly motivated and showing astounding commitment. The teachers are quickly innovating and adapting to the challenges faced in teaching this course for the first time to a group of visually impaired students. As an example, please see the video below from one of our students Bhargav, from the state of Gujarat, demonstrating how he uses assistive technology to learn programming. Bhargav is so enthusiastic about learning to program that he offered to work on his assignments all night, Sunday 9 pm to 8 am on Monday, to get the most out of his class.
It has been a very exciting and gratifying effort for all involved. Vision-Aid offers a heartfelt gratitude to the program coordinator, volunteer, Giri Lingamarla, and volunteer instructors Sri Lingamarla, Sulochana Devadas, Swaroop Vattam, Sonal Patel and Sudhir Varma for their amazing dedication in teaching this class! A big thanks to everyone who is supporting this program at all levels. Thanks to our supporters and volunteers, we are able to offer this class freely to students at no cost to them.