Kartik Sawhney

Co-Founder, i-Stem

Kartik Sawhney

Speaker Bio

Kartik 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 students across the country, and develops technical solutions to empower them to access educational and employment opportunities. I-Stem also works closely with the government, technical universities and corporates to make their campuses and culture more inclusive, and has worked with nearly 4,000 people with disabilities so far. Before this, he co-founded NextBillion.org, an award-winning global mentorship program for students with disabilities interested in technology that worked with over 1,200 mentees and mentors in 10 countries. 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 national Federation of the Blind. His work and views have been published in several journals including UNICEF’s State of the world’s children Report among others.

In recognition of his leadership potential and work, Kartik received the Queen’s Young Leaders Award 2016 from Her Majesty The Queen. In addition, he has received the National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (India's highest honor for contributions to the disability sector) and was selected as one of the 17 UN young leaders for Sustainable Development Goals 2018 by Secretary General's Envoy on Youth. Kartik's vision is to redefine disability through achievement.