Shakul Sonker

Co-Founder, I-Stem

Shakul Sonker

Speaker Bio

Shakul is a disability advocate, Mathematics enthusiast 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 and STEM professionals. He was born in a small town in Uttar Pradesh in India where his parents were advised to abandon him and called him a result of their sins in the past life. But, this did not deter him and his parents from fighting back and him pursuing quality education. He hit a roadblock yet again in the 11th grade though when he was denied the permission to pursue math because his school couldn't provide him the support he needed. He fought back again, and not only successfully complete high school but also went on to become India's first blind math university graduate. He is now determined to make it easier for others to live their dream.

A mathematics and computer science graduate of Ashoka University, Shakul co-founded Project StemAccess (now I-Stem) that develops technical solutions to empower people with disabilities  to access educational and employment opportunities and provides technical training, mentorship and hands-on opportunities to blind students across the country. I-Stem also works closely with the government, universities and corporates to make their campuses and culture more inclusive, and has worked with nearly 2,000 people with disabilities so far.

At a young age, Shakul has inspired thousands through his personal story of grit and tenacity, and his work to empower others to dream big and realize their dreams besides directly impacting over 2,000 people with disabilities through I-Stem. Coming from a small town where his community recommended his parents to abandon him to living his dream of studying math in university as India’s first blind student to do so, challenging societal norms and preconceived notions about the abilities of people with disabilities to founding an organization that encourages people with disabilities to dream big and supports them in their dreams and funded and supported  by organizations like GSMA, UNICEF, Roddenberry Foundation and Microsoft, he has established himself as an authority in the disability space. He demonstrates selfless commitment to inclusion, exemplary leadership, courage and technical excellence to making his vision a reality.