Making a digital future accessible for all children

Young boy feeling the Code Jumper next its creator, Cecily Morrison

Nowadays, learning computer code is an essential part of the national curriculum. But for many children who have vision impairments, this topic has been inaccessible to them, meaning they’ve missed out on these important skills. That is until now…

A new accessible educational tool is aiming to ensure every child has the chance to be part of the digital future. Code Jumper, which RNIB has just launched in the UK with APH, is a tactile teaching tool which makes learning to code a fully accessible experience. 

The Code Jumper comprises of a series of pods, each containing a line of code representing a set of commands. Joined together with audio jacks, the pods become a programme in effect.

Nick Adamson, Senior Software Engineer for General Dynamics UK said: “Code is now part of the curriculum – part of digital literacy. If we don’t teach blind kids the same thing then we are going to leave them out of the digital future and that’s not on,”. At the launch event last month, Nick, who has sight loss himself, talked about how Code Jumper can open-up learning and understanding for the next generation. He added: “It’s a really clever way of getting kids to understand the concept of coding. Writing computer code can come really naturally to someone who can’t see the screen.”.

Cecily Morrison, principal researcher at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, came up with the idea behind Code Jumper which is primarily aimed at children aged seven to 11 years old. Cecily, whose seven-year-old son was born with a vision impairment, said she wanted people who are blind and have low vision to have control to create their own technological future. She added: “We wanted to create something that excited the hands of blind, or visually impaired children, as well as their mainstream peers.”

David Clarke, RNIB director of services, explained: “With the advent of the digital age, many teaching aids for virtual skills – such as coding and web design – are based in a virtual space, so these subjects can be intangible and inaccessible to those who can’t see and feel it. Code Jumper is different. It makes virtual ideas tangible in a form children can physically touch and move around.”

Find out more

To find out more, and hear how two young students have enjoyed getting to grips with Code Jumper, listen to Connect Radio’s report on the launch.

Code jumper can be purchased from RNIB's Online Shop.