Technology 3 min read

Code Jumper: Teaching Visually Impaired Kids Computer Coding

Microsoft's Project Torino has unveiled its latest innovation aimed at teaching visually impaired kids computer coding -- the Code Jumper.

Image credit: Microsoft

Image credit: Microsoft

Code Jumper is a recent innovation to help children learn computer coding, regardless of their level of vision. That’s right; visually impaired kids can learn how to write programs using this tool.

It all began about four years ago. A Microsoft researcher and computer scientist, Cecily Morrison, wanted to explore technology options for her son, Roran, who was born blind.

Morrison soon discovered a significant problem with the technologies that are available for visually-impaired kids. Not only were they clunkier, but they were far more outdated than today’s smartphones and tablets.

Also, she noted that the popular tools used to teach computer coding to children lacked support for accessible technologies. These include magnifier or screen readers.

In a statement to the press, Morrison said:

“It became really clear that, for a 7- or 8-year-old, it was going to be really hard to use assistive technology to code. We realized we really need something physical, something that would excite the hands.”

So, Microsoft started Project Torino, which eventually led to the development of a new product called Code Jumper.

Here’s how it works.

Code Jumper: A Coding Tool For Visually Impaired Kids

Along with teaching basic programming concepts like sequence, iteration, selection, and variables, the tool also encourages users to explore various ways to solve a challenge.

Students have to connect small pods to build strands of codes. Aside from having various colors, each pod has uniquely shaped knobs to enable easy identification by sight or touch.

Code Jumper enables kids to begin with the simple coding concepts. However, they can work their way up to more advanced sequences by adding more pods and plugs with different functions.

Code Jumper is inclusive of all children, regardless of their level of vision or computing experience. Similarly, teachers don’t need computer science experience to facilitate the lessons.

Although Microsoft developed the tool, a non-profit based in Kentucky, American Printing House, is distributing Code Jumper to visually-impaired kids.

“If you put this in a classroom, not only is the blind student going to be using this, but every student in the classroom is going to want a crack at this,” says APH’s president, Craig Meador. “From a teacher’s perspective, that’s all you ever really want – something that’s inclusive.”

APH intends to release the tool first in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia. Eventually, it’ll make its way to other parts of the world.

Read More: Coding Games for Kids: A Fun Way to Learn Computer Programming

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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