Nikita Davis, a computer programmer who’s been blind since third grade, brings joy to his office and coworkers.
Nikita Davis builds computers. Davis —a senior lead programmer analyst in BBVA Compass’s Birmingham office— has a shop in his basement where he assembles desktops and laptops, and he’s been known to repair machines for friends and coworkers. For a while, he even had his own business making and selling PCs.
What makes Davis unique: He does it all by touch. “I am totally blind,” Davis says, “with no light perception at all.”
Davis began to lose his vision when he was in third grade. Doctors realized his retinas were detaching, and multiple surgeries to preserve his vision were unsuccessful. At that point, he began attending the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. When he was a senior, he attended a career fair that changed the course of his life.
"I am totally blind, with no light perception at all
“I was going to be a lawyer,” Davis says, “but there was a facilitator at the fair who was talking about how computers would be the thing of the future. As a result, I decided to come to the University of Alabama at Birmingham and study computer science.”
The order and precision of programming appealed to Davis. “I’m a logical thinker,” he says. “I love math and solving problems.” After graduating with his degree, he started working at South Trust Bank, which would eventually merge into Wachovia, which itself would merge into Wells Fargo. After working for all three companies, Davis came to BBVA Compass in 2012.
One of the biggest challenges Davis faced early on was the lack of technology allowing visually impaired people to work in most offices, especially in areas related to computer programming.
“When I started at South Trust, they had to get me a special computer that cost $12,000 back then,” Davis says. “Things have evolved to where now all I need is a laptop and some screen-reader software,” a program that scans the information on the display and turns it into synthetic speech. “It’s a lot more flexible,” Davis says, “and as a result, I’m a lot more independent.”
Don't accept no for answer
Davis doesn’t consider his condition a setback, and he attributes his positive outlook to his parents.
"BBVA Compass tries to create the best place to work
“They always encouraged me to just stay positive about everything,” Davis says. “They would never let me feel sorry for myself or take the word ‘no.’”
That positive spirit carries over into his work. “I like the camaraderie that we have on our team,” he says. “I like the way BBVA Compass is concerned about the employee. They really try to make it the best place to work.”