Vijayawada, September 27, 2013: L V Prasad Eye Institute and Microsoft India Development Center (MSIDC) of Microsoft India (R&D) Pvt Ltd today announced the launch of two new initiatives to support the visually challenged—a Mobility & Sensory Stimulation Park at LVPEI’s Kode Venkatadri Chowdary Campus, Tadigadapa here at Vijayawada and a HelpLine at its Kallam Anji Reddy campus in Hyderabad. Both projects were completely funded by monetary contributions received through the Employee Giving Campaign at Microsoft India Development Center.
The projects were jointly launched by Dr Gullapalli N Rao, Founder & Chair, L V Prasad Eye Institute, and Srinivas Prasad, HR Director, Microsoft India Development Center (MSIDC). Explaining the potential of these initiatives, Dr Rao said: “Nearly 90 per cent of the world’s visually impaired live in resource poor countries like India. There are over 8 million blind of whom 1 – 2 million are irreversibly blind, and over 54 million people with low vision of whom 10 – 12 million have irreversible low vision across all age groups in India. We at LVPEI have always focused on providing world class comprehensive facilities to prevent blindness and provide vision rehabilitation. While we have made considerable progress in bringing the best of eye care and services to our clients, the unavailability of both these facilities – a Mobility Park and a HelpLine – was deeply felt. But for the support received through our association with MSIDC these two projects wouldn’t have seen the light of the day today.”
Elaborating on MSIDC’s contribution, Srinivas Prasad said: “Every year, Microsoft runs a dedicated global program encouraging employees to give back to the community. Since the year 2000, MSIDC employees have been supporting various social causes they are passionate about. Many of our initiatives align to Microsoft’s long history of commitment to accessibility where the company builds accessibility features into several products and services and partners with others to discover new ways of using technology to transform people’s lives and have a long term impact. Last year, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of our Giving Campaign, we decided to take up eye health and support for the visually challenged as a special initiative, given the long term adverse consequences visual impairment has on a person’s education, employment, mobility, socialization and mental health.”
Sharing more details of this initiative, Prasad said: ”We chose to partner with LVPEI and Sankara Eye Care Institutions, given their commendable achievement in this field. Throughout Giving Campaign 2012 our employees participated in various activities under the guidance of both these institutes to promote awareness and contribute funds for flagship projects. At Sankara via their Gift of Vision and Rainbow programs we supported eye restoration surgeries for close to 2500 people. I am extremely happy to be here today, and thankful to our employees for their generous donations towards such a noble cause.”
The Mobility & Sensory Stimulation Park, one of the rarest in the world, is aimed at serving three important purposes:
- Expose visually challenged children to non-visual sensory experiences such as touch, hearing, smell, taste and residual vision. It is expected to help improve their body posture, manual dexterity, mental abilities, and communication and socialization skills in a playful manner
- Teach young adults and elderly people, suffering from visual impairment, universal ‘Orientation and Mobility’ techniques such as long cane techniques, sighted guide techniques, upper and lower body protection for gaining maximum freedom of movement, both indoors and outdoors
- Sensitize the public to the needs of the visually impaired by encouraging them to take a walk in the park with different vision simulators that envisage various categories of vision loss.
Beula Christy, Head, Dr PRK Prasad Centre for Rehabilitation of the Blind & Visually Impaired, LVPEI, elaborated how visual impairment can affect the lives of all associated and affected by it. Children with low vision and blindness often experience delay in almost all aspects of growth, leading to low self-confidence, emotional and behavioral stress that lead to poor acceptance by sighted siblings and peers. In adults and the elderly, among the various implications posed by vision loss, mobility is the most adversely affected skill, and this impacts all other areas of independence. Vision rehabilitation can bring about substantial improvements in their lives, but sadly less than 12 per cent of the global population have access to rehabilitation intervention.
Project ‘HelpLine’ aims at providing information and confidence to anyone affected by visual impairment through web and telephone-based counselling and guidance. The helpline services are enabled for people with blindness and/ or low vision, and also meant for their families/ friends and professionals working in the field of disability who may seek guidance on intervention techniques for their clients/ students. Dedicated tele-rehabilitation counselors will attend and resolve queries related to a wide range of topics, such as psychological wellbeing, education and employment opportunities, early intervention and therapeutic intervention techniques, low vision devices, products and technology, independent living skills, advocacy, parenting, leisure and sports, professional courses, training, etc. Anyone can reach the Helpline, open Monday-Saturday, between 9am to 5pm, either by calling +91-40-30612841/2842 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulating both MSIDC and LVPEI, Dr. S Somasegar, Corporate Vice President, Developer Division, Microsoft Corporation, said, ““I am very happy to see the progress made through our one-year association with LVPEI, and look forward to many more years of collaboration. I hope this partnership will be able to make major improvements in the lives of India’s huge population of visually challenged people. Having gone through some vision issues myself earlier on, I am very excited about this partnership. I am very thankful to everyone who has worked on this project and wish them all the very best for the future.”
About Microsoft India (R&D) Pvt Ltd
The Microsoft India Development Center of Microsoft India (R&D) Pvt Ltd commenced operations in Hyderabad in 1998 with about 20 people. Today, it has a headcount of 2000 plus employees that work closely with product engineering teams from Microsoft Corporation’s headquarters at Redmond, making it one of Microsoft’s largest development centers outside the US. For more details on Microsoft India Development Center’s activities, please visit: www.microsoft.com/india/msidc
About L V Prasad Eye Institute
The L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) was established in 1986-87 at Hyderabad as a not-for-profit, non-government, public-spirited, comprehensive eye care institution. LVPEI is governed by two trusts: the Hyderabad Eye Institute and the Hyderabad Eye Research Foundation. The Institute is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Prevention of Blindness and a Global Resource Center for VISION 2020: The Right to Sight initiative. LVPEI has six active arms to its areas of operations namely Clinical Services, Education, Research, Rehabilitation and Sight Enhancement Services, Eye Bank, and Public Health and Rural Outreach. For more information, visit www.lvpei.org.