Sightly wins Rep. Suzanne Bonamici’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Oregon’s First District

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici has named Shreya Suresh from Sunset High School as the winner of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Oregon’s First District.

When asked what inspired the creation of Sightly, the student said, “I first came to know about the problem during a field trip to several blind organizations. While talking to visually impaired people, I learned about their daily struggles, especially with navigation, and how that is a barrier to their safety and feeling independent. I felt like we (sighted people) take safe mobility for granted, and felt compelled to help in some way, so I talked with them more to further understand their struggles, by shadowing their daily outdoor activities(such as walking across a busy street). They told me that the existing solutions are ineffective because they require a lot of screen interaction, and are limited to the user taking a photo before recognition. Also, the current built-in accessibility features on phones are tedious to get to and use in real life scenarios, requiring several touches and constant voiceovers of the screen. After understanding their struggles, I decided to use my programming skills to create something that would help them navigate safely, therefore helping them become independent.”

The 2021 Congressional App Challenge yielded 2,101 fully functioning apps. After eighteen months of disruptions to educational cadences for students everywhere, the Congressional App Challenge came roaring back with 7,174 students registering for this year’s competition. All told, 340 Members of Congress hosted Congressional App Challenges in their districts across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.

The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, theCoderSchool, Facebook, Replit, Accenture, and others.

The 2022 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2022, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.