1. Richard Ladner
  2. http://www.cs.washington.edu/people/faculty/ladner
  3. Professor Emeritus
  4. AccessCSforAll
  5. https://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/accesscsforall
  6. University of Washington
  1. Brianna Blaser
  2. Program Coordinator/Counselor
  3. AccessCSforAll
  4. https://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/accesscsforall
  5. University of Washington
  1. Lauren Milne
  2. https://homes.cs.washington.edu/~milnel2/
  3. PhD Candidate
  4. AccessCSforAll
  5. https://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/accesscsforall
  6. University of Washington
  1. Andreas Stefik
  2. http://web.cs.unlv.edu/stefika/
  3. Associate Professor
  4. AccessCSforAll
  5. https://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/accesscsforall
  6. University of Nevada Las Vegas
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Richard Ladner

    Richard Ladner

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 10:42 p.m.

    Thanks for viewing our video!

     

    Welcome to the AccessCSforAll project.  Among other activities we are developing accessible tools and curricula for K-12 students.  This effort is part of the the CS for All movement.  Last year we highlighted the Quorum Language

     

    http://stemforall2017.videohall.com/presentations/900

     

    This year we are highlighting Block4All, an accessible blocks-based programming environment for young children.  The video shows Boon, a ten year old blind child, and his parents.  Blocks4All is a prototype that we hope will inspire developers of blocks-based programming environments to make them more accessible to all children regardless of disability.  Some opening questions for discussion are:

     

    1.  Approximately 15% of K-12 student are identified as having a disability.  How should they be included in the national effort to bring computer science into K-12 education?

     

    2. One of the barriers to including blind children in computer science activities is the heavy use of blocks-based programming environments like Scratch and ScratchJr in introducing programming concepts to children.  These environments are not accessible to blind children who rely on screen readers.  On the other hand, screen readers are built into iOS and Mac, Android, and Windows systems all of which are used extensively by blind children.  What will it take for developers of these programming environments to make them accessible by making them compatible with screen readers?

     

    3. What other barriers are there for including students  with disabilities in the CS for All movement?

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Sarah Dunton
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    Kristin Day-Hinken

    K-12 Teacher
    May 19, 2018 | 07:34 a.m.

    I have a student with visual impairments as well as not use of her arms. Right now she is pretty proficient with her nose on a giant ipad screen.  She is spunky, curious, and willing to try anything.  I want to give her the best education I can which includes computer science.  I am struggling to find the tools to help her learn and grow.

  • Icon for: Richard Ladner

    Richard Ladner

    Lead Presenter
    May 19, 2018 | 10:50 a.m.

    Hi Kristin,

    If you would like to try Blocks4All, there is a beta version used for testing.  To get a code for download, contact Lauren Milne at milnel2@cs.washington.edu.  

    I don't know the degree of vision your student has, but she may be able to use switch access on the iPad which is a hands-free method of access.   You can find it under "accessibility" in the settings. 

    Please contact me at ladner@cs.washington.edu to talk about your student.  I would like to learn more.

     
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    Suzanne Perin
  • Icon for: Richard Ladner

    Richard Ladner

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 10:53 p.m.

    To learn more about AccessCSforAll go to:

     

    https://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/accesscsforall

     

    For more information about Blocks4All you can go to the ACM Digital Library.

     

    Lauren R. Milne and Richard E. Ladner. 2018. Blocks4All: Overcoming Accessibility Barriers to Blocks Programming for Children with Visual Impairments. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '18). ACM, New York, NY, USA, Paper 69, 10 pages. DOI: https://doi-org.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/10.1145/3173574.3173643

     

  • Icon for: Sarah Wille

    Sarah Wille

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 12:42 p.m.

    Thanks for this video, AccessCSforAll group! I think this is a great example of how one size doesn't fit all needs - block-based programming is a great way to introduce programming to younger learners, but it's not going to work for all learners. In our work exploring how we might make high school CS more accessible for youth with learning disabilities & ADHD, we find, for example, that collaboration and pair work are heavily used - which works really well for many students, but can be more challenging for those with ADHD (as social skills and attention are closely linked). 

     

    You ask about how to include students with disabilities in the CS education expansion efforts - CS teachers will need specific guidance/resources to support the range of learners in their classrooms (including those with disabilities) - especially because so many with disabilities spend the majority of their learning time in regular classrooms. So the more usable, practical classroom resources we can create for (and importantly, with) teachers to easily access as they lesson-plan and implement in the classroom, the better.

     

    Are there any specific learnings from Lauren's work about techniques that may be useful for block-based environment developers to know, that you can easily describe here?

     

    Thanks for this work!

  • Icon for: Richard Ladner

    Richard Ladner

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 04:08 p.m.

    Sarah,

    Thanks for the comments.   There are a number of things to learn from Lauren's work.  First, it is always a good idea to leverage what students already know when you develop something.  In this case blind students are already exposed to the iPad and VoiceOver.   Second, it is always a good idea to think about universal design.  Blocks4All can be used by all children whether they be low-vision or blind or sighted.  For low-vision, students can make the blocks larger.  For blind, students can use the built-in screen reader.  Third, this accessibility issue has been around for many years.  When asked, developers often say "we're working on it."   That's ok for a year or two, but time is up to make it happen. 

     
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    Sarah Wille
  • Icon for: Lauren Milne

    Lauren Milne

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 06:16 p.m.

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for the comment--your work sounds really interesting! A couple of lower-level things we found that were really inaccessible in most block-based environments (and likely to be widespread problems in other types of applications):

    (1) Drag and drop is really challenging for children with visual impairments (even with the screen reader work-arounds), this could obviously be a challenge as well for children with visual impairments, so developers should build in a work-around if they are using this gesture in applications.

    (2) Items "floating" in space are really hard to find without vision on a touchscreen. In most of these environments, block programs just float in the middle of the workspace. It was really hard for children to find these blocks without vision, so in my design the programs are tethered to the bottom of the screen. This would be a harder for developers to implement.

    Lauren

  • Icon for: Suzanne Perin

    Suzanne Perin

    Researcher
    May 21, 2018 | 01:48 p.m.

    I have a new car that has a touchscreen panel for the radio, volume,nav, etc. -and it's horrid to use because the screen is smooth and I have to actually look at it to find anything while driving, rather than being able to touch & feel the physical buttons & dials like on my old radio....so I (even fully sighted!) empathize with #2. I've wondered if there is a way to mark the screen with dots or lines to help identify locations on the screen. Do you know of anyone who's tried doing something with the physical screen?  Though I'm not willing to test nail-polish dots on my new car, it sure would help to use other senses to find & anchor those on-screen items in space. I know it shifts the issue to hardware instead of software, but it would be intriguing to figure that out.

  • Icon for: Andreas Stefik

    Andreas Stefik

    Co-Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 02:03 p.m.

    Suzanne,

    Great question and I empathize! As it happens, we actually have a project in the lab where we are thinking about these issues a lot. There are lots of ways that it can be approached, but the cheapest to commercialize is likely in vibro-tactile feedback. How to do it is complicated and we've been collaborating with some awesome neuro-psych folks and mechanical engineers, but the gist is that you end up controlling the motors (which vary a lot per device) to try to give clues and there's lots of ways to do that. We're putting out some vibration control libraries this summer on Android in the Quorum project as part of this and experiments on what is/is not effective are ongoing in St. Louis and in Maine.  We were thinking of effectiveness for the blind, but your application domain sounds just as valid.

  • Icon for: Richard Ladner

    Richard Ladner

    Lead Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 02:11 p.m.

    Hi Suzanne,

    A number of researchers have looked at using 3D printed overlays or attachments to smart phones and tablets to make them more usable or accessible.  Here is one example.

     


    Shaun K. Kane, Meredith Ringel Morris, and Jacob O. Wobbrock. 2013. Touchplates: low-cost tactile overlays for visually impaired touch screen users. In Proceedings of the 15th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS '13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, , Article 22 , 8 pages. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2513383.2513442

     

     

  • Icon for: Christopher Atchison

    Christopher Atchison

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 08:27 a.m.

    Richard, Lauren and team: Wonderful work as always.  I see this working with more typical students as well, since the accommodations you've designed can support all learners and make the learning more concrete, especially when introducing this type of programming at an early age.  You've mentioned some of the challenges in your design process, but what challenges do you face for scaling this up to specific learning goals and situational instruction in programming, robotics, etc.?  

  • Icon for: Richard Ladner

    Richard Ladner

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 02:12 p.m.

    Christopher,

    Thanks for your comments.  As for scaling up, we are still in the research phase, but I see some avenues for scaling.  I think Lauren has some ideas too.  First, we want to make the iOS app available in the app store.  This should happen in the next few months.  Secondly, we would like to work with a larger company to improve the app.  As academics, we have limited time and resources to do so.  Third, we will encourage others providers to improve their blocks-base programming environments to make them accessible.  Our research will inform them on how to do so.

  • Icon for: Andreas Stefik

    Andreas Stefik

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 02:19 p.m.

    Christopher,

    On one of our other projects as well, we're explicitly working on scaled up versions of accessible development environments, which take into account various domains. This is complicated because many kinds of applications are "very" not accessible, like 3D graphics for the blind and visually impaired (e.g., OpenGL doesn't exactly have "screen reader mode"). We have a few tricks up our sleeves with these technologies, however, and worked in some potential solutions into our latest grant. Thinking about these scaling issues is one of the key issues I'm thinking about nowadays. 

  • Icon for: Christopher Atchison

    Christopher Atchison

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 08:56 a.m.

    Andreas and Richard, thank you both for your responses.  In the nature of this work, we're always thinking about broader impacts and how to reach as many as possible, right?  As technology continues to become more innovative, keeping everything accessible becomes even more challenging.  Of course, I'm certainly not telling you anything new.  I wish you all the best as you continue and will be keeping an eye on your great outcomes.  

  • Icon for: Pati Ruiz

    Pati Ruiz

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 03:04 p.m.

    Your project, and the comments, bring up an excellent point about developing tools and strategies that developers can then use. How do you currently - or how do you plan to - work with developers (if at all). If you do not, do you have a plan for raising awareness around this issues and sharing your important work with developers in industry?

  • Icon for: Andreas Stefik

    Andreas Stefik

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 03:21 p.m.

    Pati,

    Great question. Overall, I think about the problem of making computer science more accessible as one that goes across demographics, as I think you are implying in your question. By that, what I mean is that regardless of whether an individual is young or old, their disability should not be a block on their ability to participate in the discipline. Because of that, we engage groups across several dimensions.

    For example, Lauren's work is cool because it's hitting younger demographics, which I don't think anyone has tried for the blind and visually impaired community. My team skews older and we've talked to devs in industry for years. Sometimes teams are responsive and sometimes they are not. Visual Studio, for example, is making some progress on accessibility right now, which is great to see. Microsoft, broadly, is also engaging across a number of disability groups (e.g., neuro-diverse) and at least to me, I think they're doing more than most at the moment.

    Thus in our case, we are doing a few things: 1) building prototypes or products that help for groups/domains that are particularly problematic or where how to do the design is not obvious (e.g., computer graphics is heavily used in education, but not accessible to BVI and how you make it so is not clear in the literature), 2) talking to some partners in various settings (e.g., industry, academia). As an example, we recently held a Dagstuhl seminar that had a variety of conversations across these demographics and included a disabilities component: http://www.dagstuhl.de/en/program/calendar/semh... I was designing that event, I was pretty explicit in creating it such that this cross-demographic, both educational and industrial, impact was front and center.

     

  • Icon for: Brianna Blaser

    Brianna Blaser

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 03:26 p.m.

    In our related grant AccessComputing (http://uw.edu/accesscomputing), we work with folks in industry in a couple of ways.  One is to engage them in conversations about recruiting and retaining interns and employees with disabilities.  Having employees with disabilities may help to bring conversations about accessibility to the forefront. 

    We also work with industry on initiatives related to teaching accessibility in computing education. Teach Access (http://teachaccess.org/) represents a number of companies and universities that have come together to encourage faculty in postsecondary institutions to teach more about accessibility.  Companies are saying that they need more staff that is knowledgeable about accessibility.  If all developers learn something about accessibility in the course of their education, it should help ensure that products are more accessible.

     
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    Sarah Dunton
  • Icon for: Richard Ladner

    Richard Ladner

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 03:52 p.m.

    Hi Pati,

    Interestingly, some companies will pick up on research ideas and put them into products or services.  We would certainly be happy if that happens.  That said, research papers don't always tell the whole story.  They don't talk about ideas that didn't work out, for example.  It is always a good idea for a company to seek out the researchers to ask them question about what in not in the paper.    Most likely, our main role in working with a company would be as a consultant.

  • Icon for: Lauren Milne

    Lauren Milne

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 06:07 p.m.

    Hi Pati,

    Great question!  I'll add to the responses above.

    I think there's a lot of interest in making these programming environments accessible from industry, but people aren't quite sure how to do it. It's also pretty hard to recruit participants to test these interfaces out, because the population of children who use screen readers is pretty small. We are hoping that this research helps with some of these problems: explicitly laying out what can be done to make these environments accessible and actually testing it out with blind children. 

    We've actually been in talks with some of the big players in the space from industry. Hopefully they will start to implement some of the ideas!

    I also have made the code behind Blocks4All available and hope to release the application in the app store this summer (after finishing up my dissertation).

    Thanks,

    Lauren

     

  • Icon for: Alan Peterfreund

    Alan Peterfreund

    Executive Director
    May 16, 2018 | 10:23 a.m.

    Richard and Team

    I was prompted by your video to search for other Showcase videos addressing accessibility.  First of all it was not easy to search - what terms would one use - it is not on any of the menus.   The results (based on a very quick search) are very limited Project Tactic, Doing Math with Paraeducators were the only two I quickly found directly addressing this issue other than your own. 

    While you and your team have done a great job raising awareness, how can we get more researchers to mindfully be engaged in this work?

     

  • Icon for: Richard Ladner

    Richard Ladner

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 12:18 p.m.

    Hi Alan,

    Thanks for your comments and question.  There is quite a bit of activity going on in the nation in making tools for STEM and Computer Science Learning Accessible.  Some of it not out yet.  AccessCSforAll has a set of "Development Partners" who are committed to and work on making accessible tools.  At SIGCSE 2017 in Seattle we held a workshop to promote accessible educational technology and accessible teaching strategies.  Follow link for proceedings.

     

    https://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/resources/making-k-12-computer-science-accessible-2017

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Alan Peterfreund
  • Icon for: Brianna Blaser

    Brianna Blaser

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 12:53 p.m.

    Alan, searching for disability related videos (or articles or whatnot in different settings) can be difficult because of the variety of terms that could be used. In particular, some videos might address a particular disability like autism but not use the term disability.  Others might mention a variety of underrepresented groups, including disability a list of underrepresented groups but not addressing it substantively.  

    We did identify some other videos that deal with accessibility and disability:

    Awareness is a big issue when it comes to ensuring others address disability. We work to be the squeaky wheel in conversations about diversity and inclusion to ensure that disability isn't absent.  At times, folks seem hesitant to address disability because of concern over doing the wrong thing.  There are many people - our team included - who are happy to provide guidance for folks wanting to engage with disability-related issues.

  • Icon for: Allison Theobold

    Allison Theobold

    Graduate Student
    May 17, 2018 | 11:35 a.m.

    Last year was the first I had heard of your team's work and am impressed with your efforts to make CS accessible to students with disabilities. Our team (Teaching Computer Science through Storytelling) is utilizing Alice, a drag and drop environment similar to Scratch, to infuse middle school classrooms with computer science. We restructured a developed lesson plan for use in a students with special needs classroom, but have not had discussions as a team about how these lessons would be accessible to students with visual disabilities. 

    Do you have any recommendations on tools or resources we should consider when trying to make our lessons accessible to students with visual disabilities?

    Thanks!  

  • Icon for: Richard Ladner

    Richard Ladner

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 12:56 p.m.

    Hi Allison,

    I don't know the technology behind Alice, so I can't comment on how it can be made accessible.  My experience has been that if a tool is not "born" accessible in the first place, it is often hard to make it so, particularly if the output is an animation, which is very visual.  

     

    I have heard about Teaching CS Through Story Telling, which is a wonderful concept.  A story doesn't have to be a visual animation, could be speech, music, or other audio output, or a robot action of some kind.   That said, Blocks4All is targeted at children in K-5, not middle school.  If you are willing, you might consider moving to the Quorum Language which is text-based and supports speech, audio, and some robots.  It is considered to be very learnable even by middle school children.  One feature of the language is the command "say."  

     

    say "hello" goes to the speakers to speak "hello"

    repeat 5 times

      say "hello"  

    end

    will speak "hello" five times.  

     

     

  • Icon for: Ronald Greenberg

    Ronald Greenberg

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 17, 2018 | 04:06 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing in this forum. I know that it's a very constrained format for the video showcase, but do you have a longer video/demo that could give a greater sense of what it is like for a visually-impaired student to use Blocks4All?

  • Icon for: Richard Ladner

    Richard Ladner

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 04:26 p.m.

    Hi Ron,

    If you have access to the ACM Digital Library, there is a short 30 second video that shows a little more.  Try this link.

     

    https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3173643  

     

    If you want to download a beta version for your iOS device please contact Lauren Milne milnel2@cs.washington.edu.   You should be familiar with VoiceOver, the screen reader for iOS to get the best feel for the environment.

     

  • Icon for: Ronald Greenberg

    Ronald Greenberg

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 17, 2018 | 04:37 p.m.

    Thanks. That did give me a short bit of a view. I think it will be nice if you can produce something even longer showing the full cycle of putting together some sort of interesting program, presumably a simple one (without interfering voice-over).

  • Icon for: Richard Ladner

    Richard Ladner

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 04:50 p.m.

    The CHI video was required to be less than 30 seconds and the STEM for All less video than 3 minutes.   When the app is fully ready we'll do a demo video describing all the features.   

  • Icon for: Stacey Forsyth

    Stacey Forsyth

    Informal Educator
    May 18, 2018 | 10:18 p.m.

    I'm so glad to learn about your project! In our work at CU Boulder, we do some STEM programming with children and teens who are blind or visually impaired (connected with our ITEST project here in the video showcase), and they have been asking about doing more with robotics. We do quite a bit of CS education outreach but have been challenged by how to make these activities (including programming Dash & Dot) more accessible for students with visual impairments. We would love to try this out with our participants when Blocks4All is released - please keep us posted!

    On a related note - have you tested Apple's 'Everyone Can Code' / Swift Playgrounds environment? I just saw an announcement this week about Apple bringing the program to schools serving deaf and blind students (https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2018/05/apple-br...). I believe Swift Playgrounds can be used to program Dash, as well as some other robots; it might be interesting to test out with VoiceOver as well.

    Thanks for sharing this important work here in the Showcase - I really enjoyed your video!

  • Icon for: Richard Ladner

    Richard Ladner

    Lead Presenter
    May 19, 2018 | 10:58 a.m.

    Hi Stacey,

    I just heard about Apple's Everyone Can Code / Swift Playgrounds environment.  I'll be looking at it to learn more.  As I mentioned earlier the Quorum Language is a well tested platform for blind children to code in.   We had a video in last year's Showcase about it.

     

    http://stemforall2017.videohall.com/presentations/900

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.