Apple's 'Everyone Can Code' initiative to help serve blind and deaf students

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published May 20, 2018, 6:25 pm IST
Updated May 21, 2018, 1:50 pm IST
This fall, schools supporting students with vision, hearing or other assistive needs will start teaching the 'Code' curricula for Swift.
This initiative uses Swift, Apple's intuitive programming language.
 This initiative uses Swift, Apple's intuitive programming language.

Apple is teaming up with leading educators for blind and deaf communities across the US to bring accessible coding to their schools. Beginning this fall, schools supporting students with vision, hearing or other assistive needs will start teaching the Everyone Can Code curricula for Swift, Apple’s intuitive programming language.

Apple created the Everyone Can Code curricula so students from kindergarten to college and beyond can learn and write code using Swift. With teacher guides and lessons, students learn the basics on iPad with Swift Playgrounds which lets you use real code to solve puzzles and control characters with just a tap, to App Development with Swift to help aspiring app developers build their first iOS apps.

 

The schools will tailor lessons using Apple’s accessibility technology, which usually helps people with vision, hearing, physical motor, cognitive or other assistive needs. Apple collaborated with engineers, educators, and programmers from various accessibility communities to make Everyone Can Code as accessible as possible and will work in close coordination with schools to augment the curricula as needed. This will include providing additional tools and resources such as tactile maps to enhance the understanding of coding environments for non-visual learners.

The initial list of participating schools include:

  • California School for the Blind (Fremont, CA)
  • California School for the Deaf (Fremont, CA)
  • District 75/Citywide Programs, New York City Department of Education (New York, NY)
  • Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (St. Augustine, FL)
  • Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired (Winnetka, IL)
  • Perkins School for the Blind (Watertown, MA)
  • Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (Austin, TX)
  • Texas School for the Deaf (Austin, TX)
     

“Our students were tremendously excited at our first Everyone Can Code session earlier this year,” said Bill Daugherty, superintendent at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Austin. “There are more than 10,400 students with visual impairments in Texas, and the development of this curricula is going to be a big step in opening up coding opportunities for our students and those across the nation.”

The Everyone Can Code curricula is compatible with VoiceOver, which is an advanced screen-reading technology for people who are blind or of low vision. The voiceover is a gesture-based screen reader that describes nearly everything happening on your screen and claims to be the most popular screen-reading technology of any mobile technology platform. With VoiceOver integration, Swift Playgrounds can take students step-by-step through learning Swift, all without needing to see the screen.

Accessibility features for people who are deaf or hard of hearing include FaceTime for capturing every gesture and facial expression, Type to Siri, closed captions, LED Flash for Alerts, Mono Audio and Made for iPhone hearing aids.

iPad and Everyone Can Code can also be used by students with physical motor limitations through Apple’s built-in Switch Control, which enables switches, joysticks and other adaptive devices to control what is on your screen.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day:

In recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 17, Apple is hosting events around the world to promote inclusive design and emphasise how technology can support all people with disabilities.

Throughout May, all Apple stores will host accessibility-related events and sessions for customers. On May 17 Apple corporate locations in Cupertino, Austin, Cork and London will also hold events.

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