How the project came about.

Making Visual Programming Accessible.

This project was developed by Shipley College for a visually impaired student enrolled on the BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Software Development and Games Programming Course. The structure for the first year of the course involves three main sections;

  • Hour of Code
  • C# with Visual Studio
  • Unreal Engine 4

This works well as it builds up from simple coding to more complicated coding and last year students were engaged and achieved good results from it.

This year Callum, a visually impaired student, enrolled and the course had to be made accessible. For this changes had to be made to the hour of code, C#, and UE4.

For the hour of code it is a visual programming which involves dragging and dropping simple statements, to make this work we printed used foam blocks to represent the blocks on the screen and used braille and QR codes to understand what each block did, this made it easy for Callum to make simple statements.

The C# programming was easy enough as it used assistive software to make it accessible.

When using UE4 there was no accessibility features which resulted in this project, 3D printing nodes for Callum to lay out before being converted into blueprints by a member of staff.

We entered the Accessible by Design competition, run by JISC, to hopefully get funding for the 3D printer and were one of the teams which secured funding.

Since then, JISC ran some development sprint days to help get the project underway and we have used the 3D printer to create the physical representations of the virtual items.