Saigoneer

BackSociety » Tech » The Story of Giang Nguyen, Grab's First Blind Coder

The Story of Giang Nguyen, Grab's First Blind Coder

Saigon native Giang Nguyen was born completely blind, but that hasn’t stopped him from succeeding as a coder for Singapore-based ride-share app Grab.

Out of 400 applicants, Giang was selected as one of only eight to start working at Grab this year, according to Channel News Asia. He was able to pass the coding test and rounds of interviews thanks to his positive attitude. “I know wishing isn’t a very good thing to do,” he told the news source. “I just try to do everything better. Every day, I try to do things better.”

The 23-year-old loves exploring new things.

Giang attended a school for the blind in Saigon until he was eight, when he transferred to a regular facility and use Braille textbooks and screen readers. After some time neglecting his studies, inspiration struck and he realized he could help combat the common stereotype that blind people often fail at jobs, apart from giving massages or working as street vendors. He soon enrolled in programming classes. His skill and hard work paid off and he was awarded a scholarship to study at Ho Chi Minh City International University, where he was one of only two blind undergraduates.

After Giang graduated and successfully completed a three-month internship at Intel and a part-time position with Captcha, Giang knew he wanted to work abroad. Singapore has always been attractive. He told Channel News Asia: "I just knew that it was kind of at the centre of Asia. A lot of people from a lot of countries came here to work. It was a good opportunity, so I came." He attended a Grab hiring event in Vietnam and moved to Singapore after landing the programming position.

He started working at Grab in February 2017.

Grab seems to be an especially good fit for Giang because of its commitment to those with mobility challenges. On their company website, software engineer Madushan Gamage says: “Ultimately, it’s not up to us to decide who to exclude and who to include [as a mobile app user]; so we do our best to build a system that can be used by anyone and is beneficial to everyone.” This includes utilizing the iPhone’s VoiceOver feature so the Grab app can be used solely via touch and sound, thus ensuring designs can be read by people who are colorblind, and increasing font size for those with poor eyesight. Madushan adds:“It was really inspiring to hear from Giang, given his experience with assistive technology, how features and fixes can work for people like him.”

Giang during a hike in Singapore's Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

Even before joining Grab, Giang was focused on helping the visually-impaired integrate into society. While still in university he successfully fought against the belief that blind people could not be trusted to operate ATM machines and convinced a bank to allow them to open accounts. He is currently trying to get Singapore’ public transit system and the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to install tactile maps for the visually impaired.

Giang is dedicated to not letting his disability impact his daily activities. I just want to have a normal life – do what I like, have friends and everything. I don’t want to be extra special,” he says. He loves to explore new bars and restaurants with friends, visit the beach, hike in forests and travel. His Facebook profile also features numerous photos of adventures, including jet-skiing.

For Giang, freedom is important. While people with disabilities may need some extra help at times, they always “have the right to be independent.”

[Photos via Channel News Asia]


Related Articles:

Can Tho Teenager Clinches Vietnam's First Boxing Championship Medal in 6 Years

Hanoi Wunderkind Wins Major International Writing Contest

Young Saigoneers Turn Manhole Covers Into Street Art


Related Articles

in Tech

$189m Plan to Give 300,000 HCMC Students Tablets Draws Criticism

Last week the HCMC Department of Education proposed a plan to equip 300,000 primary students with tablets for the coming school year, reports Thanh Nien. With a pricetag of VND3 million – VND 5 m...

in Tech

'Flappy Bird' Creator To Release New Game Tomorrow

Well, Nguyen Ha Dong, the Vietnamese app developer who at one point was pulling in $55,000 per day, is officially back in the spotlight. After releasing a new version of ‘Flappy Bird’ earlier this mon...

in Tech

'Thirsty' Concrete Drinks Rainwater, Eliminates Flooding

Concrete isn't exactly a sexy topic. Even though we drive on it and build things with it, the average person seldom gives the gray stuff a second thought.

in Tech

3 Vietnamese Make “World's Most Influential Scientific Minds” List

3 Vietnamese scientists: Dam Thanh Son, Nguyen Son Binh and Nguyen Xuan Hung, have made Thomson Reuters’ list of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.

in Tech

40 Years Later, Vietnam Begins Identifying Its War Dead

Martyr cemeteries are a common occurrence across Vietnam. In countless communes in every province, modest gravestones mark the resting places of Vietnam's fallen soldiers in neat, orderly rows. T...

in Tech

42m Vietnamese Use Facebook Daily, Among Highest Rates in Southeast Asia

Amongst its many existing users, companies and government entities are increasingly turning to the platform.

Partner Content

in Partner Content

At Picniq, a Series of Sunset Soirées for Kindred Music Enthusiasts

Picniq, a new series of monthly electronic music events, has become a musical banquet rarely seen amid Saigon. This is where one can treat their eyes to the city’s most breathtaking sunsets while givi...