Kartik Sawhney is a disability advocate and technologist who has not let his disability prove an impediment in the pursuit of his personal and professional goals and has done substantial work in empowering other people with disabilities to be successful tech professionals. As the first blind student to pursue science education in high school in India, he advocated for change in rules that now allow all blind students across the country to pursue sciences in high school. Similarly, after several months of advocacy, he convinced the top technical universities in India to open their doors to blind students, leading to at least fifteen students in India pursuing engineering today.
A computer science graduate of Stanford University, Kartik co-founded Project StemAccess (now I-Stem) that provides technical training, mentorship and hands-on opportunities to blind math and science students across the country. I-Stem also works closely with the government, technical universities and corporates to make their campuses and culture more inclusive. Before this, he co-founded NextBillion.org, an award-winning global mentorship program for students with disabilities interested in technology that has worked with over 180 mentees and mentor in 10 countries. He has also developed technical solutions and conventions for accessible STEM which are being used by blind students across the world. Given his experience in accessible education, he serves on boards of several organizations and other high-level committees, such as the Education Commission’s Expert Panel on Technology and Education, and his work and views have been published in several journals including UNICEF’s State of the world’s children Report.
In recognition of his leadership potential and work, Kartik received the Queen’s Young Leaders Award 2016 from Her Majesty The Queen. In additions, he was included in the Limca Book of Records and has been recognized by several other organizations including Google and the Government of India.