Improving the Accessibility of Computing Enrichment Programs



Workshop 31

Saturday, March 3, 2012

3-6 pm

Room 302B



Many wonderful enrichment programs have been created to introduce young people to computing, but with little attention to making them accessible to students with disabilities.  In this workshop participants will learn from practitioners who have introduced computing and programming to young people with disabilities.  They will also learn first-hand from students with disabilities about their needs in learning programming. There will be breakout sessions for participants to apply what they have learned to improve existing enrichment programs such as Alice, Arduino, Scratch, Kodu, App Inventor, Greenfoot, Lego Mindstorms, Processing, and Computer Science Unplugged. Laptops are optional.


Richard Ladner, University of Washington

Karen Alkoby, Gallaudet University

Jeff Bigham, University of Rochester

Stephanie Ludi, Rochester Institute of Technology

Daniela Marghitu, Auburn University

Jeffrey Wilson, U. of Southern Illinois, Edwardsville (Substituting for Andreas Stefik)

Additional Participants:

Rob Roth, University of Washington

Sean Mealin, North Carolina State

Suzanne Balik, North Carolina State

Matt Stallmann, North Carolina State

Elissa Olsen, National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology

Joe Stanislow, National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology

Mark Wambach, National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology

Tim Bell, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand


Tentative Agenda:

1.      Introduction. Richard Ladner (10 minutes)

2.      Presentations by organizers on their successful enrichment programs involving students with disabilities (60 minutes)

a.      Instant Messaging Chatbots and Location Aware iPhone Apps.Jeff Bigham

b.      The Current State of Technology for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Jeff Wilson

c.      The Greenfoot Camp at Gallaudet. Karen Alkoby

d.      Auburn University K-12 Inclusive STEM Outreach Programs. Daniela Marghitu

e.      Inclusive Pre-College Outreach: Strategies and Lessons Learned. Stephanie Ludi

3.      Break (15 minutes)

4.      Parallel Discussions (40 minutes)

a.      Including students with disabilities into enrichment activities

b.      Improving the accessibility of enrichment tools that may be currently inaccessible for some students (e.g. Scratch seems to require vision)

5.      Summary of Discussions (40 minutes)

6.      Action plans (15 minutes)


  1. T. VanDeGrift, R.E. Ladner, A. Poginy, S. Burgstahler. The Game of Life Workshop - Reaching Out To High School Students With Disabilities. 2006 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition.
  2. J.P. Bigham, M. Aller, J.T. Brudvik, J.O. Leung, L. Yazzolino, R.E. Ladner. Inspiring Blind High Schoolers to Pursue Computer Science with Instant Messenging Chatbots. 39th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE 2008), 449-453.
  3. A.C. Cavender, R.I. Roth, R.E. Ladner. The Summer Academy for Advancing Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Computing. 40th Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, (SIGCSE 2009), 514-518.
  4. S. Ludi, M. Abadi, Y. Fujiki, P. Sankaran, S.Herzberg.  JBrick: accessible lego mindstorm programming tool for users who are visually impaired. In Proceedings of the 12th international ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (Orlando, Florida, USA, October 25 - 27, 2010). ASSETS '10. ACM, New York, NY, 271-272.
  5. S. Ludi,T. Reichlmayr.  The Use of Robotics to Promote Computing to Pre-College Students with Visual Impairments. ACM Transactions on Computing Education 11(3): 20 (2011)
  6. A.M. Stefik, C. Hundhausen, and D. Smith. On the design of an educational infrastructure for the blind and visually impaired in computer science. In Proceedings of the 42nd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE '11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 571-576.
  7. S. Burgstahler: Universal Design: Implications for Computing Education.  ACM Transactions on Computing Education 11(3): 19 (2011)

Enrichment Programs:

1.      Arduino,                                                                  

2.      Scratch,

3.      Greenfoot,

4.      Alice,

5.      Kodu,

6.      Lego Mindstorms,

7.      Processing,

8.      Computer, Science Unplugged,

9.      Sodbeans,


Outcomes: TBA