Apple pushes to teach coding to students who are deaf and blind

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Tim Cook has been vocal about wanting students to learn to code. On Thursday, Apple’s CEO announced that the company is bringing its “Everyone Can Code” curricula for the Swift programming language to schools across the country that serve students who are deaf and blind. 

Cook tweeted, “Because when we say Everyone Can Code, we mean everyone.”

The announcement came Thursday in conjunction with the seventh Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the purpose of which is to “get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access and inclusion and people with different disabilities.”

Throughout the rest of May, Apple says it will be holding accessibility-related events and customer sessions at all its retail stores.

At its Michigan Avenue flagship store in Chicago, for example, the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired will demonstrate the VoiceOver tool inside iOS that reads aloud what’s on the screen for people who are blind or who have low vision. 

Apple says the participating schools will tailor lessons using accessibility technology the company has baked into the iPhone and other products, covering people with vision, hearing, physical motor, cognitive, or other assistive needs. 

The company has collaborated with engineers, educators, and programmers from various accessibility communities and says it is working with the schools to augment the curricula. For example, it will employ tactile maps to help blind students learn to code. 

Here is the initial list of participating schools: 

• California School for the Blind (Fremont, Calif.)
• California School for the Deaf (Fremont, Calif.)
• Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (St. Augustine, Fla.)
• Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired (Winetka, Ill.)
• District 75/Citywide Programs, New York City Department of Education (New York, NY)
• Perkins School for the Blind (Watertown, MA)
• Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (Austin, Tex.)

• Texas School for the Deaf (Austin, Tex.)

Don Barrett, a member of the American Council of the Blind, applauds the move. “If you get coders and computer scientists accessibility-aware from the beginning, as they go out and get jobs putting these systems together they can push and say, ‘hey we really need to make this accessible. It’s not a big deal, lets just do it.” 

Email: ebaig@usatoday.com; Follow USA TODAY Personal Tech Columnist @edbaig on Twitter

More: How Apple wants to insert itself into kids’ school day

More: Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller aims to help gamers with disabilities

 

 

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