Learning to code through gaming

09 July 2020

As part of the Check In and Chat webinar series Vision Australia ran during the COVID-19 pandemic, national adaptive technology advisor David Woodbridge joined host Reeni Ekanayake to discuss how to get into coding and programming.

A technologist at heart, David has a great way of introducing the concepts behind coding and programming in a fun, engaging manner that is most importantly accessible for people who are blind or have low vision.

What is coding?

“The best way I like to explain coding or programming, which are essentially the same thing, is simply giving a computer a set of instructions to follow, to perform a specific task or function,” David said.

“People assume that coding and programming are things to do with their computer or their smartphone, but it’s literally any electronic thing that actually has to follow a certain number of instructions to be able to do something,” he said.

There are various educational programs people can access on devices at home that can allow you to do a variety of things including how to program drones or robots using this software.

Coding for children

One of the most fulfilling parts of David’s work has been introducing children who are blind or have low vision to coding through accessible educational tools such as grids with Lego or braille tactile maps that they can interact with.

“The reason why we use these grids is if you’re a screen reader user and you’re using VoiceOver on your iPhone or iPad, when you’re starting to use coding applications you can imagine hearing “column 1 row 1”, “column 2 row 1”, “column 3 row 1”, it can get a little bit overwhelming.

“The way this grid helps out is that you physically work it out on the grid first, and then you transfer that tactile spatial knowledge onto the digital grid on the iPad or the iPhone,” David said.

Remember to have fun

The key to coding or programming is to give it a try and see how you go. David said anyone with an interest in coding or programming should try it out as they might surprise themselves with how much they can achieve.

“When it comes to coding, the main thing to remember is it’s all about the journey that actually counts, not the fact that you may or may not get there in the end, it’s all the fun about finding out something new.

“My basic premise is to have fun, and that’s why this webinar is about learning to code through gaming. For me we spend too much of our time being serious and getting a bit overwhelmed, particularly at the moment, so have fun and learn to code!” he said.

If you would like to hear more from David about the various software and equipment available for learning how to program, as well as many other coding-related topics, you can watch the full webinar here.

For advice on what technology is available or technical assistance, you can ring our Adaptive Technology Helpdesk through our hotline on 1300 84 74 66, or send us an email at athelp@visionaustralia.org