Inclusive coding with braille courses from Apple

Everyone Can Code, this is the pioneering message from global technology brand, Apple.

Today (24 January), Apple has announced their new Everyone Can Code curricula and resources in the UK. Working in partnership with the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB), the Apple team has launched the learning tools for students who are blind or visually impaired.

EXPERIENCE

Enable editor, Lorne was invited to speak with Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s head of accessibility, to discuss the new initiative.

“We did a workshop in the US where one young boy told us he had asked his dad for a drone. This young boy’s dad responded ‘blind people can’t fly drones,’” recalls Sarah.

“Using the new software, this young boy learned how to code and after the lesson we filmed him flying a drone independently with code to show his dad.”

A heart-warming story that details the power of code, and most importantly, that disability is not a barrier. 

And Apple is assisting the disabled community greatly, with 76 per cent of visually impaired community utilising iOS products – it is the most versatile for individual needs.

EDUCATION

Coding is an invaluable tool, and a powerful skill to have. Not only is it fun to learn playing with a makeshift world in an app, there is a real opportunity for coding to go further in the disabled world.

Designed as the first accessible coding tool, Everyone Can Code – launched in the US last year – is a resource the entire blind and visually impaired community can utilise.

Apple and the RNIB is working together to make the technology sector more inclusive for people who are blind or partially sighted. From nursery level to university and beyond, people can learn how to write code using the new app, Swift.

David Clarke, director of services at RNIB, enthuses: “Every child, including children with visual impairment, should have the opportunity to learn the programming and computer coding skills that are part of the national school curriculum. 

“This is especially important for future participation in the growing digital economy. However, many of the tools and methods used by schools to introduce children to coding are not accessible to all. 

“We are delighted to have worked with Apple on this project to make their coding education app, Swift Playgrounds, more accessible for children and young people with visual impairment – so that they are able to access the same resources and information as their sighted peers and can fulfil their potential in the digital age.”

Swift Playgrounds allows users to use real code to solve puzzles, control the characters, and build for the future. Alongside the iOS app, users can utilise a tactile code book, which has all the Swift Playground puzzles printed in braille.

The free tool is sure to be invaluable for teachers, students, and the wider visually impaired and blind community. 

ADAPTABLE

Whilst speaking with Sarah, the emphasis on accessibility for blind and visually impaired users was tangible. This is replicated in the features available within Swift Playgrounds. 

Learners who are blind or low vision, the app is compatible with VoiceOver, the most advanced and widely-used screen reading technology of any mobile technology platform. 

Will you be downloading Swift Playground? Let us know how you get on over on Twitter or Instagram.

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