The abstract world of coding is ideal for people who are blind or visually impaired, but there is a high barrier to entry to begin with the students who first have to learn to touch the type, for example.
Today at the BETT training fair, Microsoft announced Code Jumper, a wired hardware device designed to teach blind children or those who have an otherwise compromised vision to code.
Instead of rummaging through tablet screens or typing in laptops, students extract brightly coloured plastic pods, connecting them with thick white wires and then adjusting the pod buttons and knobs. These physical components will be used to create computer programs that can tell stories, make music and even beat jokes.
“There’s really no equivalent to this physical way of programming,” said Jonathan Fogg, head of IT and information technology at the New College of Worcester.
Early access to basic coding skills is important, Fogg said, because many children who are blind or visually impaired are attracted to careers in computer science. He thinks this is partly due to the fact that many of the abilities children with low vision develop to navigate the world make them good at the kind of computational thinking that is useful for a career in computer science. And, he said, traditionally it was a career more accessible to those who are blind or visually impaired, due to tools such as screen readers.
“This is an opportunity for thousands of people to have significant and well-paid jobs,” said Larry Skutchan, director of technology and product research for APH.
Microsoft video on Code Jumper
Watch the video from Microsoft on Code Jumper explaining the technology below:
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