2014 Nassau BOCES Education Partner Award Honoree
Coordinator, National Outreach Adaptive Technology Training
Helen Keller National Center
India native Anindya Bhattacharyya is on a mission to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people just like him throughout the world. Aside from being a renowned technology pioneer, Bhattacharyya -- known to most simply as Bapin -- is also deaf and blind.
"I like to empower them to be successful in whatever they attempt," Bapin said of his hearing- and vision-impaired peers, who are the central focus of all his hard work. According to Bapin, his success is secondary to the work. "I didn't know I was going to be a techie in the tech world," he said, "but I feel it's a good thing I do."
In addition to teaching at the Helen Keller National Center, Bapin has assisted tech companies in developing groundbreaking tools that help the deaf-blind to better navigate their world. Among his contributions are the Tactile Talking Tablet, which maps city street grids; the Screen Braille Communicator, which the deaf-blind can use to do their shopping, order meals in restaurants, or communicate with airline cabin crews; and the portable Global Satellite Positioning System, which works as well as any navigation tool currently on the market.
Bapin believes he did not achieve his technological innovations in spite of his physical challenges, but because of them. Born deaf in a poor village in India, he was then blinded at the age of nine, after which he left his homeland for America, where he fell in love with technology. Looking back, Bapin says that being blinded was a blessing, as he would never have found his true calling otherwise.
"Bapin is one of the brightest people I have ever met," said Joe McNulty, director of the Helen Keller National Center, adding that Bapin is a role model for the students he instructs. "We have people working for major companies, handling a client or a customer's account through the Internet, and those clients have no idea they are communicating with an employee who happens to be deaf-blind."