teaching blind kids to computer code

Vision Australia launches Code Jumper, an award-winning STEM tool teaching blind kids to computer code

Code Jumper opens up the world of computer coding to blind children. Designed originally by Microsoft and developed by American Printing House, Code Jumper assists 7-11 year olds, regardless of their level of vision, to learn the basics of computer coding and programming skills. A tactile system of oversized buttons, knobs and cords, means that students learn by touching and listening, exciting the hands as well as the imagination.

CEO of Vision Australia, Ron Hooton, describes Code Jumper as a “game changer for young students who want to develop valuable STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills.”

“Educators around the world agree that knowing how to code is an important technical skill that will help kids who are blind or have low vision with their future careers and lives. Vision Australia is delighted to present Code Jumper so every student can have the potential for a successful career in the STEM sector,” he said.

The tactile Code Jumper system connects via Bluetooth to an app that is accessible to students who are blind or have low vision. Using the physical system and app, students are able to complete coding tasks such as creating a sentence or song.

code-jumper-groupIt is also suitable for sighted children, which enables all students to work together, building confidence through socialisation, cooperation, critical thinking and hands-on learning.

Code Jumper also includes a curriculum to support teachers and parents, regardless of their coding ability.

Research shows just 24% of Australians who are blind or have low vision are in full-time employment, and Mr Hooton said tools like Code Jumper have an important role to play in increasing that figure.

“Interestingly, many roles in the computing industry such as coding are accessible to people who are blind or have low vision, but many of the tools currently available to teach these skills are not accessible.

“Although these students are equally interested in and capable of learning about programming, lack of accessible support puts them at a disadvantage.

“Code Jumper will help to change all of that. It is a powerful introduction for children to computer science and is a great example of an emerging assistive technology that will help prepare them for a successful future.”

Key Vision Australia / blindness and low vision figures:

  • Vision Australia estimates there are 384,000 people in Australia who are blind or have low vision. Of these 37,000 (approx. 10%) are blind and 347,000 (approx. 90%) have low vision (refractive error not included).
  • The blind and low vision population in Australia (refractive error not included) grew by 7.6% to 384,000 (2016 population estimate) from 357,000 (2013 population data).
  • Vision Australia predicts there will be 564,000 blind and low vision people in Australia by 2030, based on ABS population projections (refractive error not included).