SAS and Sphero address coding needs of students with visual impairments – LE Journal

Computer science education

SAS and Sphero meet the coding needs of students with visual impairments

Data analysis company SAS
and education technology company
Sphero
work together to bring data analysis and robot coding – along with soft skills – to students with visual impairments.

At the heart of the initiative is SAS CodeSnaps, a free app designed for use in classrooms, camps, and clubs, to teach kids computer basics, including how to code. Students work together and problem-solve to overcome programming challenges using printed code blocks. When the blocks are scanned with the SAS CodeSnaps application, the program runs on a Sphero robot, such as the LOCK,
SPRK +
Where Mini Sphero.

Printable blocks are available in 10 languages. The collection now also includes an English Braille version.


SAS worked with the
Perkins School for the Blind adapt CodeSnaps to meet the needs of students with visual impairments and blindness. Now braille is part of the code blocks and lessons can incorporate a tactile device, such as a measuring stick to measure distances.

Diane Brauner, director of Perkins’ paths to technology website, helped create activities that use noise to help students identify robot movements.

The activities were tested during a coding challenge with the Coding Club at Governor Morehead School in Raleigh, North Carolina. The challenge required the students (boys vs. girls teams) to send their Sphero through the course, including getting to a trash can, then getting behind and crossing the finish line.

“No longer sitting on the sidelines or relying on descriptions from a sighted peer, blind or visually impaired students can fully participate in all aspects of the coding activity,” Brauner said in a statement from hurry. “With the physical course, SAS CodeSnaps braille blocks and a Sphero robot, blind and visually impaired students study the physical obstacle course, write code using SAS CodeSnaps braille blocks, and auditively follow the Sphero robot. “

“Every student should have the opportunity to learn to code,” added Ed Summers, director of accessibility at SAS. “With CodeSnaps’ interactive and personalized resources, teachers of students with visual impairments can find creative ways to integrate computing into any subject, engaging students with sound and touch. “

This is far from SAS’s first foray into accessibility. In 2017, the company launched
SAS graphics accelerator, a tool to make data visualizations accessible to visually impaired people. SAS Graphics Accelerator generates alternate presentations of SAS data visualizations, including verbal descriptions, tabular data, and interactive sonication, which uses non-vocal sound to convey details about the graph. Users rely on sound rather than sight to explore bar charts, time series plots, heat maps, line charts, scatter plots, and histograms. For example, a sound representation of a bar graph will move where the sound is coming from to indicate movement along the x-axis and change the pitch to indicate higher or lower values ​​to denote the y-axis. .

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is Senior Contributing Editor for Educational Publications at 1105 Media The newspaper, Campus technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.



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