Sachin Pavithran has his fingerprints on disability policy at literally every conceivable level — he’s worked internationally, with federal agencies in the U.S., with individual states, all the way down to individual people.
Based at Utah State University, Pavithran’s academic work involves a lot of interaction with technology. Careful to weave in learning experiences for his students, Pavithran looks at ways to make existing technology more accessible for people with disabilities and tries to teach tomorrow’s engineers how to design products with disabled individuals in mind.
In addition to directing the Utah Assistive Technology Program, Pavithran serves as chair of the U.S. Access Board and sits on Sen. Orrin Hatch’s disability policy advisory board.
Pavithran’s unique perspective stems from his own experience. Pavithran lost his sight as a child, and as an academic and policy advocate he relies on assistive technology to, for example, read text on a computer screen.
Since immigrating to the U.S. at the age of 17 — he was born in India and raised in the United Arab Emirates — Pavithran has spent more than 12 years touching many areas of disability policy. He’s worked with states, including Maryland, Utah and Missouri, on legislation to prevent child protective services from taking away children of people who are blind — the lack of sight can at times prompt case workers to declare that parents are unable to care for their kids — and helped government entities make their websites more accessible for people with disabilities.
Pavithran also sits on the research and development committee of the nonprofit National Federation of the Blind, where he helped put together a demonstration project designing a car that a blind person can drive.