Accessible Coding for Students with Visual Impairments

In partnership with  Image shows the logo of SET-BC

Photo shows a programmable robot mouse on a track made of interlocking plastic squares. A target plastic piece of cheese sits nearby.Working with the team at SET-BC, PRCVI has made a favourite kit for teaching early coding abilities more accessible for students with visual impairments. The Code and Go Robot Mouse Kit builds hands-on coding skills as students build a series of increasingly more complex routes and then program a robot mouse to navigate a pre-planned route to arrive at her goal - a piece of cheese! This kit is available from SET-BC as a SETDirect Kit and the adapted version for students with visual impairments is available from PRCVI

Making Coding Accessible

With interlocking tiles that set tangible parameters for the activity space as well as directional keys on the mouse robot that are easily discriminated, the Code and Go Robot Mouse Kit comes "out-of-the-box" with several features that are more accessible to students with visual impairments than other robot coding kits that rely more on visual access to the activity space. The PRCVI Outreach Team has adapted the kit in order to promote access and engagement for students with visual impairments. Some of these adaptations are outlined below:

  • Tactile/high contrast markers added to all game pieces, including braille labels in UEB. 
Photo shows two game pieces. A left turn arrow with a braille label and a special card with a tactile jagged shape
  • A supplement with print activity cards transcribed into simplified tactile graphics. 
Photo shows a page of the supplement with a tactile graphic with a brailled title Card 6
  • A student activity guide in braille format including labeled tactile diagrams of the robot mouse as well as a special supplement of tactile arrays to familiarize students with the concept of creating a spatial array (i.e., the maze grid).
Photo shows a tactile diagram of the robot mouse included in the kit

Teaching Coding as an Inclusive Practice 

As mentioned above, the unadapted version of the Code and Go Robot Mouse Kit is available as a SETDirect kit from SET-BC. When this kit is used with an entire class, the teacher of students with visual impairments (TSVI) can request the kit on loan from the PRCVI Library. With the adapted version, the student with a visual impairment can participate in the same coding activities as their peers.

The adapted kit can also be requested on its own to work with the student with a visual impairment in a small group of peers or individually. TSVIs have reported numerous applications of the Code and Go Robot Mouse Kit:

  • As a fun cooperative activity to share with peers.
  • As a means of working on problem solving and communication skills.
  • As a tool for orientation and mobility specialists to work on planning and executing simple routes with the student.
  • As a tool for working on more effective strategies for using tactile graphics and diagrams. 

For more information and lesson ideas, please contact the PRCVI Outreach Team.


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