Are you passionate about diversity and inclusion? Do you want to develop awesome technology to help people with disabilities? Do you want to know how people with disabilities code? Do you want to win amazing prizes?
2018, 2019 and 2020 saw a group of passionate developers, students and industry professionals (both people with and without disabilities) come together in January at Bangalore for the Inclusive Stem Confluence. The event consisted of a hackathon that challenged people with and without disabilities to develop meaningful technical solutions together in 24 Hrs. while also developing empathy for each other, a series of workshops and trainings, roundtable discussions, and career fair for people with disabilities. The aim of the event was to sensitize the engineers from tech companies and change the wider company mindset on the functioning and efficiency of people with disabilities, while also allowing the participants with disabilities an opportunity to learn from experienced professionals. The event led to several year-round initiatives including technical trainings, mentorship, recruitment activities etc.
The three events saw more than 100 blind participants, sighted students from seven universities and corporate professionals from eleven tech companies participate. Participants worked on a variety of projects using varied skills including machine learning, blockchain technology, core accessibility skills, among others. We received very positive feedback from the participants, and the event also led to positive employment opportunities for some.
With success of the past three year, we are excited to bring back a better, bigger and completely virtual version of the event - Inclusive Stem Confluence 2021!
15th February-31st March 2021
This year’s event will have three tracks. Hackathon, workshops and training programs & employer connect
The Inclusive Stem Hackathon is a 6-week virtual hackathon involving participants with and without disabilities to work on high impact projects. Upon registration, participants will be placed in a private discussion group to meet each other and form teams. Participants can decide on their projects and hack at any time as per their convenience, culminating in a demo day in April.
Who is eligible?
Any tech professional (software engineer, data scientist, Android/IOS developer, designer, user researcher etc.) who is passionate about diversity and inclusion and would like to work with developers with disabilities to develop software solutions to support people with disabilities is eligible.
Any person with a disability who would like to work in teams to develop software solutions to support people with disabilities is eligible.
While non-technical professionals are welcome, the expectation is for every team to have a functional prototype at the end of six weeks. So, we recommend every team to have a few developers.
The solution must focus on one of the following:
Education for people with disabilities: People with disabilities continue to face challenges in accessing equal quality education as others and Covid-19 has only exacerbated the challenge. This theme challenges participants to come up with innovation that can facilitate people with disabilities to realize this on an equal basis as others using technical solutions. You may develop for education at any level (primary, secondary, post-secondary, skill-based education etc.).
Employment opportunities for people with disabilities: Several corporates are now realizing the potential of students with disabilities and actively coming forward to consider them for various positions. This track challenges participants to develop solutions that can facilitate in this connection and help students with disabilities become more employable. This also encourages participants to think about solutions that can empower employees without disabilities to get sensitized about the potential and abilities of people with disabilities, thereby bridging the gap in the corporate world.
Social skills for people with disabilities: Social connection is extremely important for everyone, including people with disabilities. Unfortunately, due to low expectations and biases around disabilities, and sometimes due to accessibility challenges, people with disabilities face hurdles and challenges in communicating effectively with others. This theme challenges participants to develop technology to simplify social communication and acceptance.
Timeline and logistics
1st February: registration for Inclusive Stem Confluence opens
25th March: registrations for Inclusive Stem Confluence closes
31st March: submission deadline for Inclusive Stem Hackathon
April: demo day and closing ceremony
Important note on inclusion
A crucial criterion for the hackathon will be inclusion on the teams and accessibility of the end product. Accordingly, teams must strive to include participants with disability on the team. Not only will this help team develop better but will really help everyone to see the power of inclusion in action. This also constitutes 20% of your final score.
Why get involved?
Work with developers with disabilities to develop technology that can support them and other people with disabilities
The teams will be able to present their work to assistive technology experts, senior researchers and senior corporate executives
The winning teams receive amazing prizes
An opportunity to receive support for continued development of the project
Workshops and Training Programs
This year as part of the Inclusive Stem Confluence, we will be organizing a series of webinars to expose both participants with and without disabilities to important topics in tech and inclusion. These workshops include disability 101 and accessibility for participants without disabilities, and career-related workshops for participants with disabilities. The schedule for these workshops/webinars will be available soon.
This year the Inclusive Stem Confluence aims to be a facilitator to connect excellent talent pool amongst persons with disabilities with potential employers keen to have a diverse workforce. While we cannot provide any guarantee on job offers, we hope that the connections will enable both employers and applicants to find the right match.
Who is eligible?
For applicants: Only participants with disabilities are eligible.
For Prospective Employers: Any employer looking at expanding their diversity profile is welcome to register.
Timeline and logistics
For Applicants: Register on the I-Stem portal and complete the "job opportunities" application form on the portal.
For Prospective Employers: You can register by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org latest by 15th March 2021.
Inclusive Stem Confluence team will share with registered employers the database of all applicants.
Why get involved?
Often, the last mile connect between talent and employers especially in the diversity space remains a challenge. With increasing number of persons with disabilities entering the tech industry, we hope that the employer connect initiative becomes the bridge to resolve this ensuring a win-win for all!