Donum Visi

Educate communities about blindness & create impact through practical solutions that help the visually impaired reach their full potential.

Photo of Hari Bhimaraju
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Additional categories (optional)

  • Education
  • Technology

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

1) Our website: http://www.donumvisi.org 2) Dr Hoby Wedler, merged his nationally acclaimed http://www.accessiblescience.org, into ours! 3) Our inventions with interfaces for visually impaired in the news: Elementor - a periodic table teaching tool - featured in ABC's Young and Gifted: https://tinyurl.com/y26fry7b (also presented in the White House Science Fair to President Obama Dhrona - an archery Assistant - featured in Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon: https://tinyurl.com/y393qx7l

Date You Started Your Project Started

01 January 2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

According to the World Health Organization, over 1.3 billion people suffer from some form of visual impairment globally. However, only a fraction of the visually impaired can afford even cataract eye surgeries or glasses, leaving a significant portion of our population without access to basic needs. At Donum Visi, we aim to help the visually impaired have equal opportunities in terms of everyday activities, education, technology, and careers.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

1) Donate for a Cause Each of our changemakers contributes a donation amount toward our weekly meetings. We donate this to visually impaired communities, including sponsoring surgeries for curable blindness in rural areas. To date, we have sponsored over a hundred surgeries and built one general ward. 2) Invest in Learning We equip our changemakers with design thinking and technical skills so they think about the needs of the blind when they innovate (ex. our accessible wallet project). 3) Innovate for Social Good Our changemakers have created various accessible technologies, including a voice-activated pet health identification app, medicine management kit, archery assistant, periodic table teaching tool, drawing app, etc. 4) Empower the Visually Impaired Community Startup Camp at LightHouse Labs on Entrepreneurship & Product Development Technology workshops to build a UV sensor equipped cap (Nov 2019) Volunteering at Blind Arduino workshops Running Chemistry camps for the blind by merging with the non-profit Accessible Science 5) Donate used phones to blind students in rural areas & teach them how to use apps to maximize their available resources

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

After attending a conference hosted by Sankara Eye Foundation (SEF), my sister Divija's, perspective on the world changed. She learned and taught me that there are millions of people in the world with curable blindness who don't get treated due to a lack of resources. As a deeply artistic person who loves to draw and dance, the enormity of not being able to shocked her. She founded Donum Visi ("Gift of Vision" in Latin) with the goals of educating young children about the causes and cures for blindness, doing research regarding practical solutions to aid and improve the lives of the visually impaired, and raising funds to sponsor cataract surgeries in rural India. That was the beginning of Donum Visi for me. It became a guiding force in my life, a force that fosters hope, creates opportunities to impact, and propels me to be a changemaker.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

I am stepping up to make change, because I see that the little steps that have inspired me and in turn helped me spread my inspiration to make an impact can truly create a world of opportunities for those around me as well. Attached is a video detailing my explorations as a change maker and Donum Visi's story.

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Our organization member, Sriram, has been learning the tools and technology to be a maker through DV. He pursues competitive archery. He noticed that he'd benefit from having a tool to help him practice better. As a trained accessibility ambassador, Sriram reached out to blind schools and communities to see if the blind enjoy archery, so he could cater to that when inventing. He met a firefighter and archer, who lost his vision in the line of duty, and a blind gold medalist. He came to know of several other blind kids across the nation who love archery too. Sriram was inspired! He applied the design thinking skills he learned and created a voice-activated archery assistant that does not use lights or a camera to aim and is totally accessible. Jimmy Fallon even used his solution to hit bull's eye, blind-folded, in the Tonight Show last week!

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

changemaker.com shows several solutions trying to help the blind, but none that are focused on empowering middle & high schoolers to be innovators and accessibility ambassadors in STEM and beyond. 1. Build awareness in young people, sighted, about causes and needs of the visual impairment so they think "accessible" when they innovate and build tools using STEM and develop an innate understanding of diversity and inclusion. 2. Teach students, sighted and not, how to build such tools. 3. Facilitate various activities for and with various blind leaders and students.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

So far, we have sponsored 170 cataract eye surgeries. We also donated $2500 towards building an eye hospital in rural India. We are working with a rural blind school to educate 50 blind kids, who otherwise may be left to become beggars since their illiterate parents don't know how to teach them. We conducted a startup ideation camp and are doing a product-building camp in Nov'19 for 30 visually impaired youth at Lighthouse Labs in SFO. We organized a mini Maker Faire attended by 100s of students to showcase technology and tools for the blind. We are conducting a Day of The Girl Celebration for around 100 girls, featuring accomplished women, including Gena Harper, one of few blind investment bankers in the US. We merged with non-profit Accessible Science to run programs. Many of our members developed tools for the blind, won several science fairs, and were endorsed by blind communities.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Expand and Affiliate. These are 2 main goals of Donum Visi for the coming years. We hope to reach these goals by splitting down our efforts thus: 1. Distribute a "Donum Visi Chapters Toolkit" internationally. 2. Regarding our merger with Accessible Science Inc, continue their mission to conduct chemistry camps and other STEM activities for blind students. 3. Collaborate with academia and industry to take our inventions to the next level to enhance the lives of the visually impaired. 4. Conduct public STEM-based programs to kindle interest in youth for innovation. 5. Study the lifestyles and limitations of the visually impaired across the globe and create suitable solutions via our chapters.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Plan & Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Participated in previous Ashoka challenges
  • Ashoka page or contact

Evaluation results

8 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 37.5%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 62.5%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 75%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 25%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 50%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 80%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 62.5%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 37.5%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

Attachments (1)

merger_with_Accessible_Science.docx

Dr. Hoby Wedler (blind scientist, PhD in Organic Chemistry and entrepreneur - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Wedler) is merging his nationally acclaimed non-profit Accessible Science (http://www.accessiblescience.org) with our organization, Donum Visi.

2 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of Nikil Ragav
Team

Well that invention was really cool!

I love how you are empowering inventors around a specific topic - that always seems to work well and inspires students to think about a specific plan.

I think it would be really cool if you developed a grant for high school and university students to develop and commercialize inventions for visually impaired folk. These could be apps but also hardware products that will require more R&D, specialized design software, and partnering with actual manufacturers. You could probably grant students $50k with sponsorship from companies like Microsoft or companies that make products for the visually impaired.

Spam
Photo of Cheekswa Brava
Team

Not just a changemaker! Making future changemakers!!