What is Vision-Aid doing during COVID-19?
At this time, Vision-Aid centers in India, have paused physical, in-person services like most of the country. Where possible, a majority of the team members are working from home and productively engaging themselves in online programs, training and curriculum development. Some of their endeavors are highlighted below:
Vision-Aid Online Academy
The Vision-Aid Online Academy (VOA) – our training portal – is being more actively used than ever. Several trainers are helping the VOA team in reviewing existing content and developing new content. This exercise is expected to lead to a significant upgrade in VOA offerings over the next few months, which will serve Vision-Aid well in the long term, by helping us to scale up our programs in the future.
Online training programs for the visually impaired
Several programs are running or starting soon which offer virtual training to visually impaired students all over India. These programs include:
Training in programming: Students are learning how to code with expert mentors online. This includes a special, new initiative in partnership with Indic-AI, a Delhi based organization working to empower the visually impaired with AI. Vision-Aid is currently training 11 visually impaired students from Indic-AI in programming skills. The first class was held successfully on March 14th and classes are ongoing.
Training in Spoken English: A new online course in spoken English is being launched to virtually teach visually impaired school children spoken English. Currently, many of these children are sitting at home with school closures and facing uncertainty. Vision-Aid hopes to use this program to improve their spoken English skills, and it will start now and run through summer.
Digital Accessibility Testing Training: The second session of this popular advanced technical course is being launched, and demand from Visually Impaired students from all over India has been very strong.
Trying to make the most of these difficult times and social isolation, a series of training sessions is being organized for Vision-Aid trainers. Trainers are learning new skills in mobile technology, computer applications and other topics. The team of trainers meets frequently (every other day) to discuss what they have learned and exchange ideas and knowledge
New training Development
The team is actively exploring the creation of new courses in mobile technology, low vision, braille and other topics. These courses are being scoped out and will be added to the pipeline of training course publications in the Vision-Aid Online Academy.
Vision-Aid has organized 3 online webinars on the subject of “De-mystifying MOOCs” – a series which aims to educate the visually impaired on how they can learn online through Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs). The talks were led by Vision-Aid’s Sonal Patel, and were aired on Radio Udan – a radio channel heard by thousands of visually impaired in India. The response to the talks has been overwhelmingly positive. The links to the talks is shared below:
Demystifying MOOCS Series
Vision-Aid students taking Harvard Course CS50 Online
Several students from Vision-Aid’s advanced programming course are participating online in Harvard University’s CS50 class. The photos below show the students talking to Harvard’s CS50 legendary professor David Malan online.
Supporting visually impaired at our centers
While several of our physical centers and services have been paused temporarily, we are trying to actively reach past students via phone and see if they can engage in and benefit from our online services. This includes the recently graduated scholars from our Vision-Aid Maskati scholarship program.
If you wish to support any of these efforts, your support is welcome and appreciated. During this period , like everything else, fund raising has also been difficuly, and so any support will be much appreciated and will go a long way in ensuring that Vision-Aid stays healthy and well! Online donations can be made here: https://visionaid.org/how-your-donation-helps
We sincerely thank you for your kind support!