Theo Holroyd loves nothing more than coding. But being blind stopped him until he got his hands on some new technology. Innovative pods hook together to trigger commands and create computer programs.
“Sadly, I wasn’t able to do any coding before this came along because what was happening was the class were doing Scratch and I wasn’t able to join in,” Holroyd said.
Most students learn on Scratch, a visual program which involves dragging colored blocks of code around a computer screen and then watching an animation.
The invention of Code Jumper allows Holroyd and his friend, Ollie Gerety, to play and learn together.
“It really helps visually impaired people to code,” Gerety said.
The Microsoft researcher who helped develop the technology has a personal connection to the project. Cecily Morrison’s son, Ronan, was born blind. She wanted to create something modern that combined music with a physical coding language.
“Each of these is a single line of code; it’s one statement in your program. And children connect these pods together to create multiple lines of code in their programs, and then they can run their code and understand how their code is working,” Morrison explained.
Code Jumper took four years to develop and is now coming out of testing and into the real world, allowing more friends to share their passion for coding.
Through a partnership with the American Printing House for the Blind, Microsoft plans to deliver the Code Jumper technology to schools in the U.S., Britain, Canada and Australia this year.