Many different curricula are used to teach Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Principles (CSP). Most of these curricula are not fully accessible to students with disabilities, largely because the programming tools that they utilize are not accessible to students who are blind or visually impaired and typically use screen readers to access content presented on the screen. Screen readers can read text aloud to users but cannot interpret content presented in images.
Code.org’s Hour of Code activities are one-hour tutorials designed to expose K-12 students to coding and other aspects of computer science. Although there are numerous Hour of Code projects, many are not accessible to students who are blind and visually impaired. However, there are two that utilize the Quorum programming language and are accessible.
A “specific learning disability” refers to a variety of diagnoses such as difficulties with oral or written expression; decoding, fluency, and comprehension; auditory processing; working memory; arithmetic; and executive functioning. There are a variety of strategies that instructors can use to make computing courses more accessible for students with specific learning disabilities. Consider adopting a growth mindset approach that focuses on students’ abilities to learn and grow rather than talent or intelligence.
Many students with disabilities have successfully completed computing courses during their K-12 education. As a result, some individuals with disabilities have successfully completed postsecondary degrees in computing and now have careers in computing fields. However, more work needs to be done in order for all students with disabilities have opportunities to pursue these careers.
In an effort to increase computer science awareness among youth with disabilities, the University of Alabama, Auburn University, and United Cerebral Palsy of Birmingham collaborated to host two Computer Science Fun Days. The participants engaged in fun, interactive computer and robotics activities and learned about numerous opportunities in the field of computer science.
To expose high school students with disabilities to computer sciences and related careers, the North Central Florida High School High Tech program undertook the Computer Science Exploration Project. The Project offered a series of nine hands-on events. An event was held once a month and included visits to:
Led by Trinidad State Junior College (TSJC) Project E.S.T.E.E.M. (Experience Science, Technology, Engineering, Electronics, and Math) provided youth with disabilities an opportunity to experience programs at TSJC that contain a computer science component. TSJC collaborated with the School to Work Alliance Program (SWAP) to host the full-day event which culminated in an evening in which both students and their parents participated.