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Bonamici Congratulates Beaverton Student Who Won District’s Congressional App Challenge

December 1, 2017
Press Release


BEAVERTON, OR [12/01/17] — Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), a member of the House Education and Science Committees, announced that Divya Amirtharaj, a student at Beaverton’s Westview High School, has won the Congressional App Challenge for Oregon’s First Congressional District.

Amirtharaj’s mobile phone application allows visually impaired users to scan printed text in multiple major languages. Users can scan printed text with their mobile phone camera and then the app will read the text aloud. You can watch a video of Amirtharaj describing her app here.

“My goal is to improve information accessibility for visually impaired individuals across the world. Current tools for people with visual impairments, such as Braille, have failed to become widespread and have isolated users from their surroundings,” said Divya Amirtharaj winner of the Congressional App Challenge. “A real-time, multilingual, free app, like myVision would help connect individuals of all demographics.”

“Creativity and innovation are key to our economy and essential to future economic growth,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “This year’s Congressional App Challenge brought in thoughtful submissions from an impressive group of students. I congratulate Divya for her ‘myVision’ app, which addresses the needs of people with visual impairments. Divya has identified a significant need in our communities and developed a useful tool that will benefit visually impaired people in their daily lives.”

A panel of expert judges from Northwest Oregon selected the winning app. The judges evaluated the submissions for creativity, originality, user experience, and design. They provided the following feedback on Amirtharaj’s app:

“Divya did an excellent job providing the appropriate amount of context, explaining the tools she used, and articulating the problem she was solving,” said Megan Bigelow, President and Co-Founder at PDX Women in Tech. “I also appreciate that she explained how myVision compared to other related apps.”

“Divya created a great product by improving an existing idea,” said Yeruwelle de Rouen, Director of Programs at Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest. “It has an altruistic focus so the effect is wide reaching.”

Bonamici recognized Amirtharaj in an informal ceremony at her office, and the winning app will be featured on a display in the U.S. Capitol Building and on the House of Representatives website. You can download a photo of Amirtharaj and Bonamici here and here.

Bonamici is a founder and co-chair of the Congressional STEAM Caucus, which advocates for the integration of the arts and design into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education to encourage creative thinking and engage more students. By supporting and recognizing young programmers, Congress is acknowledging the growing importance of technology development. Students across the country competed in the Congressional App Challenge by creating and demonstrating a software application, or “app,” for mobile, tablet, or computer devices. The U.S. House of Representatives organizes the nationwide Congressional App Challenge each year.