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Young boy has hands on code jumper pods, turning knobs, with big smile on his face. Accessible Coding: Opening the Door to the Next Generation

“For anyone with a visual impairment, who has some sight, they know the feeling of leaning over and getting close to the screen,” explains Jason Grieves, who is a member of the Window’s Accessibility Team. “Doing that all day is tough on the body, on the back, but also tough on the eyes.”

Jason knows because that’s how he learned to code. He made it work, but it wasn’t easy.

“When I started getting into things like the web and wanting to develop my own websites, it was a little daunting. All the text was accessible, but a lot of the other tools and ways to code were not. It was something that I pushed through, but it was painful in some ways.”

Which is why Jason was so excited to hear about Code Jumper, an accessible and tactile way to learn how to code.

“What I love about coding is, it’s not just about the code. It’s also about some of those deep engineering roots that I think a lot of kids have, especially kids with visual impairments. To be able to activate those skills earlier will allow a new generation of kids to not just become developers but scientists and all of the other careers in STEM.”

When using Code Jumper, young people plug together pods to make up a physical code. By turning knobs, you can tell stories, weave sound effects, and play music. It takes a concept that is often learned visually and turns it into something you can touch and hear.

Student's hands on code Jumper pods.

“You could have made a tool that was accessible, but the fact that you’re making it fun is what’s really going to make it work and enable so many kids to start to pursue this field,” says Jason.

Code Jumper isn’t just about accessibility, it’s also about access. Jason says he learned to code after his Dad brought a computer home and worked with him. Jason’s friend had a mother who pushed him to code even when it was super hard for him. Coding wasn’t fun, and you had to have a strong support system. Code Jumper changes things: it gives everyone access to a fun and simple way to learn coding.  It also brings a whole new population of eager students into the STEM field.

Boy and girl sit next to each other playing with Code Jumper.

“Code Jumper is going to get them moving forward and they’re going to push the industry. I think students, teachers, and families are going to say: ‘We want to go to the next step. We want our students to code in other languages and to code applications for Windows and Android and Apple.’ I think that’s going to be great. Code Jumper is pushing the industry and forcing us to move forward by putting that first building block in place.”

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