New programming languages are emerging which are visual in nature, such as Scratch, Blockly, Blueprints etc.

This reduces the entry barrier to use the language and gives a different view of the program logic, which can positively affect productivity. However, their visual nature precludes their use by the visually impaired. This project aims to make these languages more inclusive by using 3D printing to help the visually impaired programmer build a mental model of the logic by touching actualised virtual objects. They can then rearrange and rewire these objects ready for the virtual nodes to be updated.


Students from the BTEC Level 3 Software Development and Games Programming course at Shipley College have been working on this project during the 2015-2016 academic year.

The aim of the project is to help one of our visually impaired students access the full curriculum - including the use of visual programming languages, such as Scratch and Unreal Engine 4's Blueprints.

As many modern visual programming languages use drag and drop, it makes them inaccessible to visually impaired users - this project hopes to make them accessible.

Why Project ViP?

More and more products are using visual programming to lower the entry requirements needed to program them.
This is great, but it is not inclusive - we aim to change this by converting virtual items into physical ones.

ViP stands for 'Visually Impaired Programming'

What is it?

Project ViP consists of a toolset which will enable virtual elements to be made physical, using 3D printed resources.

These resources include raised areas which include both text and Braille ‐ this enables both the visually impaired student and their facilitator to work together.

Supported Software

Support for any system is provided via an OpenSCAD template, which makes building the 3D modes simple. Some software also use Python to generate the OpenSCAD code.

Support for Scratch / Hour of Code, UE4's Blueprints and LucidChart is currently available.

Who can use it?

End users will use the physical objects created, either due to a visual impairments or for some other reason, while facilitators will create the physical objects for the users.

Developers will extend the system, using the framework supplied.