When Sujan Dhakal started attending free weekend and summer programs at the Maryland School for the Blind (MSB) in elementary school, he had no idea he would want to pursue a career in technology. Everything clicked for him when he discovered the code language Quorum in his first technology based summer program at MSB.
Born in Nepal with Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, an eye disorder that primarily affects the retina and causes severe visual impairment, Sujan does have some functional vision and is able to see some light, shading and color. When he was just 2 ½ years old, his family decided to leave behind their tight knit community of friends and relatives so that Sujan could receive better medical care and specialized services for his vision impairment. They settled in Maryland and were referred to the Maryland School for the Blind (MSB).
Sujan has been receiving vision services and attending educational and enrichment programs at MSB throughout his elementary, middle, and high school years. He learned braille and has become so proficient that he has won his division in the Maryland Braille Challenge on several occasions and has qualified multiple times for the National Braille Challenge.
“I like braille because it gives me access to literacy and it is an important method of communication. If you don’t know how to communicate with the wider world, you’re toast”
Sujan’s technology skills were also apparent early on and were further developed through MSB’s technology intensive summer camps. Through these experiences, he found his purpose and career path, but that is not the case for all blind and low vision students. Many students experience roadblocks to learning, especially when faced with obstacles such as inaccessibility. This is especially difficult with computer coding because most coding languages are inaccessible to assistive devices.
With his interest in computer programming and strong technology skills, Sujan joined MSB’s robotics team and under the leadership of MSB’s coaches, the team has been advocating for accessible programming to help level the playing field in robotics competitions. They have partnered with the inventor of Quorum, an accessible coding program, and successfully advocated with the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) to allow them to use the program in FLL events. They have also presented on the importance of accessibility to executives from the LEGO Corporation itself.
Our students and staff are becoming part of the solution by putting their purpose into action! Will you join us?
With your support we can reach thousands of blind and low vision students like Sujan by providing life changing services and programs at no cost to the students or their families in all 24 Maryland Counties.
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