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Code Jumper: empowering students with inclusive coding tools

By Microsoft Accessibility

From left, students Daniel and Rico and IT instructor Jonathan Fogg laugh about the program Daniel and Rico created during a beta test of the technology behind Code Jumper. Photo by Jonathan Banks.

We believe that learning to code is something that can empower every student with computational thinking and problem-solving skills. These skills are applicable to every career and industry.

That is why today we are launching Code Jumper, a physical programming tool to help students who are blind or with low vision learn early coding skills. Created by Microsoft Researchers, under the name Project Torino, the team is working with the American Printing House for the Blind to help bring inclusive coding to students all over the world.

One of the driving forces behind Code Jumper is the vision of Microsoft Researcher and Computer Scientist Cecily Morrison, whose son is blind. “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,” she said. “We realized we really need something physical, something that would excite the hands.”coding to students all over the world.

Daniel, an 11-year-old student at New College Worcester with an early ambition to pursue a career in computer science, was among the first to test out Code Jumper. “I just felt very independent, and I liked that, it kind of made me inspired to do more coding,” he noted.

American Printing House for the Blind has big plans for the future of Code Jumper, including developing a curriculum and distribution channels among other levels of support. They aim to release Code Jumper first in the US, UK, Canada, India, and Australia, and then to distribute it throughout the world.

To learn more about Code Jumper, check out the project’s feature story on the Innovations Stories Hub. Be sure to also visit the Microsoft Education Blog throughout the week for more news announced at BETT 2019.