In 2004, Ramakrishna (Ram) Raju, his wife, Co-Founder, and Vice President, Ravathy Ramakrishna, and a team of energetic volunteers created Vision-Aid. Their initial goal was to identify and address the many needs of people with vision impairment. But their larger mission was to provide a path for people in India with vision impairment to gain personal and professional independence.
Vision-Aid’s research and efforts produced a holistic, 16-element program. This program helps people with vision impairment through every stage of independence development. Vision-Aid’s offerings begin with assessment and training to navigate the challenges of everyday living:
- orientation and mobility training
- life-skills training
- assistive aid and device training (includes braille readers for learning how to read Braille)
Vision-Aid continues to provide educational opportunities through online learning programs accessible through Vision-Aid Academy. They include:
- basic computer skills (Microsoft Office, Internet, assistive technologies for people with vision impairment)
- complex computer skills (Python, Digital Accessibility);
- learning English; and
- professional skills.
(The new Digital Accessibility Testing and Training Center also gives students the chance to do professional-level projects with supervision)
Vision-Aid’s Professional Development and Employment Assistance services help students connect their skills with industry jobs. This completes their path to independence. Services include:
- soft skills training;
- resume writing;
- coaching/mentoring; and
- placement assistance.
In addition, Vision-Aid has programs that help educate the public and create new prospects for their community. It has 12 centers across India helping underserved communities. With that broad picture of what Vision-Aid does, my next blog post will focus on how Vision-Aid connects people with vision impairment to the digital world.