Coding has gone mainstream! Coding concepts are being integrated into core subjects and are being introduced in preschool. Learn how students with visual impairments and blindness can fully and equally participate in coding concept activities! Below is a summary of Paths to Technology posts on coding-related topics including apps, coding concepts, robots, programming languages, success stories, and of course fun activities! Find out what is being used in mainstream classrooms and how to modify these activities – if needed – to be accessible for students with visual impairments. This list is organized by categories to help TVIs quickly fnd what they are looking for.
Three or four years ago, I started seriously looking for accessible coding concept apps geared for young students and came up empty. While there were many coding concept apps for this age group, at the time, none appeared to be accessible with a screen reader for students with little or no vision. About that time, unplugged coding concepts were being introduced into preschool and early elementary classrooms. While some of these mainstream classroom activities required vision, a number of activities can be modified slightly to enable students who are visually impaired to fully and equally participate with their peers. Check out the post below about accessible coding activities!
The Sequencing Coding Concepts Activities post is designed to help TVIs understand the progression of the unique skills that students who are visually impaired should be taught as they are introduced to coding concepts.
Since mainstream coding concept apps tend to be visual and not accessible, in the fall of 2016, Paths to Technology worked with a computer science student team a the University of North Carolina to develop an accessible coding app called CodeQuest. This app was developed by two teams over the period of two semesters and an education major went on to develop 3D printed tactile models of the app as part of her thesis. This app was designed as a “proof of concept” app to demonstrate to app developers how a coding concept app can be created to be inclusive; the app also intentionally teaches and reinforces tech skills (such as drag-and-drop and picker items) for students who use a screen reader. CodeQuest has been given to APH in 2017 and is anticipated being available for field testing/initial feed back in January 2020. (Read more about CodeQuest – including videos! – in the post, Hidden Resources: Collaborative University AT Projects.) The beta version of CodeQuest was used to encourage app developers, to consider creating accessible coding apps.
Swift is Apple’s coding language for iOS devices. Apple created Swift Playgrounds as a fun app to teach students how to code using Swift. Swift Playgrounds has a teacher’s manual and a manual for how to use Swift Playgrounds with VoiceOver. The San Francisco Lighthouse partnered to create/large print tactile diagrams that accompany Swift Playgrounds. There are a variety of posts about Swift Playgrounds on Paths to Technology. Note: Some of these posts were written when Swift Playgrounds first came out and focus on more general information.
Please share your favorite accessible coding device, application and/or activity!
By Diane Brauner