Making A Difference With AI

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AI in Mobile Legends is something that I can beat up easily, but with Microsoft’s AI for Accessibility Hackathon, wherein more than 400 individuals over 8 countries across Asia Pacific participated, AI is going to become a tool to overcome accessibility challenges for people with disabilities.
Microsoft Philippines focused on accessibility issues connected to visual impairment, and with their partner, ATRIEV, four problem statements were identified. Teams were formed to conceptualize a solution for each problem statement, and every team consists of ATRIEV representatives and other Microsoft partners. Together with my co-trainers, Anthony Lozada and Rafael Pataray, we were with Czar Castro, Sonny Lozada, and Miguel Arcilla to create our team, Eye Browser.

It never registered to me how lucky I am to be in an event with that calibre until I learned that I was talking to a Business Analyst, Technical Specialist, and Software Developer, and with that, I had to step-up my game. The problem statement assigned to us was about increasing the accessibility of websites through AI, and with my playful mind, I thought of our team name, Eye Browser. Well, it’s kind of brilliant, right? The “Eye” is for those who have visual impairment and “Browser” because it’s about the web. Okay! Okay! I admit. I suggested that team name jokingly, and surprisingly, my teammates liked it. So, there you go, Team Eye Browser.

In order to come up with an idea for the solution, our sighted team members had to empathize our target persons, which are the VIs. You might think empathizing is an easy task, but it is not. When our sighted members truly understand the situations of the VIs, only then they can think of a solution for the problem, and that became challenging for us, ATRIEV representatives. From the introduction of screen reader, how we use computer, and the accessibility issues we encounter, Sir Anthony, Sir Rafael and I explained all that to the point where empathizing never stopped even we’re in the comfort room.

Challenging, but all the hard work paid off when we were able to conceptualize an answer to an accessibility issue and actually win first place in AI for Accessibility Hackathon PH. Now, as an idea comes to life, let us all hope for the Eye Browser to make a difference in the lives of visually impaired persons.

My First Teaching Stint

Photo image of Mr. Edrian assisting one of his student in the class.

Note: Edrian delos Reyes is a graduate of ATRIEV’s Digital Literacy Training (DLT) in 2018 and went on to be part of ATRIEV’s Training of Trainers of Web Content Writing. At age 19, Edrian is ATRIEV’s youngest trainer. Read how Edrian describes his baptism of fire as an ATRIEV Assistant Trainer of the DLT course held from February to March 2019.

Many have said that you won’t get rich in the field of teaching. Well, so what? After teaching my very first batch of Digital Literacy Training (DLT) students, I feel like I’ve accomplished my mission on this world and I could die any minute now. Of course I don’t want that to happen yet. I just started this teaching career of mine, and it’s going to end already? Teaching is a very gratifying and fulfilling career, and I still want to teach more batches of students

With all honesty, being an ATRIEV trainer wasn’t really in my plans. I just did my part when I was a student myself. I listened to my trainers, made sure that I understood every lesson and finished the given tasks on time. When I had some free time, I gladly helped my co-trainees to cope with the lessons. I enthusiastically answered their questions and lead our group studies after class. I found myself enjoying assisting my peers and actually wanting more opportunities to lend someone a hand in achieving their dreams.

So, in February 2019, there I was, welcoming the 8th batch of DLT students as one of their trainers. Along with Rimar Joe Reynado and Gamalliel Kindot, we were honored to have students with full of potential and determination. We have students who want to make their performance in mainstream school better, students who are looking for a direction in life and students who want to further advance in their chosen careers. But teaching is not a very easy job. Little by little, we became stricter than we wanted to and even deliver some sermons. But despite all that, at the end of the training, we still heard the words, “Thank you mga Sir!”

I’d admit that being a teacher is very stressful but it pays off. It may not be through money, but who cares? Teaching is never about the money for me. It’s all about my students. I want them to pursue their dreams, become the best version of themselves and be successful in life. This is why I’m hoping that this is not yet the end of my teaching career. On the contrary, this is just the beginning.

Editor’s Note: The Digital Literacy Training (DLT) is the core training program of ATRIEV. It is conducted through the support of Microsoft YouthSpark Program and NORFIL Foundation as the strategic partner of Liliane Fonds.