Obama re-appoints visually-impaired Indian-American to key admin post

Sachin Dev Pavithran once again becomes a member of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board

India At Large staff

US President Barack Obama has announced to reappoint Indian-American Sachin Dev Pavithran to a key independent government agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities.

Pavithran has been reappointed as a Member of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, the White House said as it announced other key administration appointments.

Created in 1973 to ensure access to federally funded facilities, the board is now a leading source of information on accessible design.

“These dedicated individuals bring a wealth of experience and talent to their new roles and I am proud to have them serve in this administration. I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come,” Obama said in a statement on May 5.

Pavithran was first appointed to Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board in 2012 and has served as chair since 2015. He is programme director of Utah assistive technology programme at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, a position he has held since 2011.

He has served in a variety roles at the centre since 2002, including programme coordinator and Disability Policy Analyst. He has more than 15 years of experience as a consultant in developing, testing, and training users of assistive technology and accessible websites.

The Utah State University alumnus serves on the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs National Board, the Research and Development Committee of the National Federation of the Blind, and the National Multicultural Council of the Association of University Centers for Disabilities.

In 2016, Pavithran was selected as one of Government Technology’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers & Drivers for his accomplishments in using technology to improve government operations.

Pavithran, now based in Washington, was diagnosed with degenerative blindness after the age of 4. “I could never imagine myself in the path where I am now 10 years back… Then, I was totally dependent on others,” Pavithran, who hails from Kannur in Kerala, was quoted as saying to The New Indian Express in an interview last year.

Leaving India at the age of 17, Sachin did his bachelors and Masters in Computer Science from the Utah State University, US. Afterwards, he took up a job as a computer programmer at the university.

He soon joined a civil services job where he started advocating for equal rights for the differently-abled. He told The New Indian Express, “I first started out as a volunteer after which I became a regular practitioner. Initially it was a job which soon became a passion. My work also involved meeting so many people and it was at this time that I met a very successful lawyer who was also a victim of blindness. I started questioning myself: If he did not let his disability define his life, then why should I?” Soon after, he was appointed to the US Access Board, rising through the ranks to become the chairman.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Pic courtesy: Facebook

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