Students at West View Elementary School have been exploring coding with an innovative tool designed to teach computer programming to students who are blind or visually impaired.Code Jumper, developed by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), puts block code directly into a student’s hand so all students are able to learn programming concepts including sequence, iteration, selection and variables in an inclusive setting.
In partnership with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Blind and Visually Impaired Support Program (BVISP), Adria Scott’s fourth graders were chosen to explore Code Jumper this year in support of a classmate who is visually impaired.
Jeanine Esch, AIU Program Director for Hearing and Vision, explained, “Part of the goal is to establish an inclusive setting where blind/visually impaired and sighted students can learn coding alongside one another.
When Libby Friedhaber, AIU teacher of the visually impaired who serves the North Hills School District, approached West View Elementary School principal Jesse Simpson about Code Jumper, he jumped on board.
“He saw the value of the opportunity immediately,” Friedhaber recalled. “He provided the support needed to get it up and running quickly and has championed the program since.”
During weekly lessons taught by BVISP staff including Esch, Friedhaber and Jennifer Pirring, AIU Supervisor for Hearing and Vision, students create code with physical pods connected to a hub. Students are encouraged to work together to think computationally and critically to solve challenges in multiple ways.Jim Sullivan, APH's Director of Social Enterprise and Greg Lazur, an educational consultant for PaTTAN, visited during a recent class.
"The students who are participating are so excited every Friday to go to Code Jumper,” Mrs. Scott said. “It’s amazing how far they have come since the beginning of the year."
Code Jumper was originally designed by Microsoft and developed by APH. Any teacher can facilitate Code Jumper lessons without prior computer science experience, and Code Jumper is inclusive of all children across the vision spectrum. Learn more at www.codejumper.com.