Ram and his team investigated building a Web accessibility program within Vision-Aid. It’s initial request for participants quickly produced 30 trainees. Then Vision-Aid turned to Deque University, a leader in digital accessibility training. Deque provides Scholarships for People with Disabilities. Vision-Aid trainees had free access to Deque University’s online program provided by Glenda Sims, Deque’s Team A11Y Lead. Over the next 4.5 months, trainees worked through Deque’s program with a team of expert volunteers. Graduates from the program received Deque University Certificates. The program was so successful that Vision-Aid trained a second round of students. In October 2020, Vision-Aid officially launched its Digital Accessibility Testing and Training Center.
Leading up to the launch, Ram, his team, and I spoke about a pilot program. The pilot would give Vision-Aid graduates the opportunity to work on their first paid project. During the program, 6 of Vision-Aid’s testers reviewed a Website for accessibility issues. Their performance was exceptional. They identified all accessibility issues and proposed real solutions. Ram and his team shared that this pilot was a huge confidence booster for Vision-Aid’s students. Testers were proud of doing productive work comparable to for-profit companies. Due to this experience, several testers proceeded to get industry jobs. Vision-Aid has a wonderful video of the students expressing their gratitude. It made me cry with happiness.
Building an independent life with a visual impairment can be challenging without support. Vision-Aid has created a path with support in all the right places. I am so happy to have been a part of this journey. In my next post, I will share more about Vision-Aid’s work.