Vision-Aid’s DATTC: Transforming Accessibility and Employment for the Visually Impaired

On June 30th, Vision-Aid’s Digital Accessibility Testing and Training Center (DATTC)  achieved a significant milestone in its journey by securing over Rs. 1 crore in contracts for digital accessibility testing projects from Global and Indian Clients.

The DATTC is a unique capability within Vision-Aid. While many of our programs rely on the generous support of donors for funding, the DATTC trains and employs our blind students in Digital Accessibilty Testing contracts and helps to keep them gainfully employed while delivering excellent results for our DAT clients who keep coming back with larger projects to us. The revenue generated not only helps to keep the entire DATTC fully sustainable – it also helps to offset some of the costs of our other training programs – helping us to scale and grow these programs.

History

Even though Vision-Aid is celebrating 20 years in 2024, the DATTC was started relatively recently (in 2020) with two primary objectives: 1) To provide top-notch digital accessibility testing services to organizations aiming for highly accessible digital systems and 2) Offer comprehensive training programs in digital accessibility to individuals with disabilities, and place them in DAT internships and jobs empowering them to become proficient testers and find gainful employment opportunities in this domain.

In 2020, Vision-Aid secured its inaugural contract with the University of Massachusetts (UMass) to deliver accessibility testing services for one of its clients. Building on this success, in 2021, Vision-Aid partnered with Learning Experience, founded by Dr. Charles (Chuck) Severance, a legendary Computer Science Professor from U Michigan with over 2 million students globally via edX and Coursera,  to conduct accessibility and usability testing for the Sakai Platform. Sakai, developed by Dr. Chuck’s team at the University of Michigan, is a pioneering open-source Learning Management System (LMS). The relationships established with UMass and Sakai have flourished over time, cementing Vision-Aid as the exclusive accessibility testing partner for both organizations.

A Journey of Growth

Since its inception, Vision-Aid has collaborated with over 14 clients in the US and India, completing more than 25 projects. The center has dedicated over 6000 hours to testing websites and mobile applications, enhancing accessibility across our clients digital platforms. A pivotal achievement came in 2023 when Vision-Aid assisted the Sakai team in producing its first in-house VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) report, solidifying its reputation as a leading consultancy in digital accessibility.

The teams at the center are trained to do rigorous testing of software and web sites to make sure they comply with global accessibilty standards. By understanding these accessibility issues, Vision-Aid’s clients are building user interfaces which are accessible for people with disabilities, making this a win-win-win for Vision-Aid, our clients and our end users with disabilities who can now use these systems more easily.

By June 2024, Vision-Aid DATTC’s earnings from projects and training surpassed Rupees 1 Crore, underscoring a significant financial milestone in its progress.

Training

On the training front, Vision-Aid DATTC stands out as one of India’s few organizations offering accessibility testing training specifically designed for individuals with vision disabilities. Since its inception, the center has maintained a steadfast commitment to delivering high-quality training, facilitating meaningful employment opportunities within the digital accessibility testing (DAT) sector. Key achievements include:

Completion of 8 batches of DAT training (each lasting ~6 months), with approximately 160 beneficiaries enrolled.

Over 80% of enrolled beneficiaries, totalling 120+, successfully completed the training program.

More than 60 graduates, representing over 50% of completed students, are currently employed as Accessibility QA testers and consultants in prominent Indian and multinational corporations.

Notable employers of Vision-Aid DATTC graduates include Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Citibank, Infosys, Cognizant, HCL, TEK Systems, and others.

Vision-Aid DATTC continues to expand its impact, bridging accessibility gaps in digital environments while empowering individuals with disabilities through specialized training and employment opportunities.

Future vision

Vision-Aid plans to grow this flagship initiative to bring in more client projects and to train more visually impaired aspirants in the coming decade so they can find gainful employment. We aim to establish new partnerships and alliances with corporations, universities, and institutions to help them create highly accessible digital systems. Additionally, we will offer digital accessibility testing as a course for visually impaired students within their organizations, helping our clients to create an online ecosystem which is more accessible and inclusive for all.

Donate Now!

Please consider supporting our efforts. Please note that Paypal charges approx. 2.3% fees for all online transactions. We would be grateful if you can add this fee to the donation. Optionally, you can mail your donation, as a check to : Vision-Aid Inc, 8 Vine Brook Rd, Lexington, MA 02421. For questions, please email info@visionaid.org or call (781) 333 5252 and leave a message.
 
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