It's been an exciting week for accessibility in gaming and tech. Microsoft announced a new accesibility-minded Xbox controller, and Apple followed up today by announcing it is partnering with leading educators to bring its education program, Everyone Can Code, to schools for students with hearing, vision, or other accessibility needs.
"Partnering with Apple, we are excited to help even more people learn how to code," said Julie Tye, president and CEO of the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which is one of eight initial partner schools for the program. "Whether for fun or future employment, learning the language of technology can offer tremendous opportunity to everyone."
Everyone Can Code was first demonstrated at the end of March as an education curriculum for teaching both children and adults to code in Apple's programing language, Swift. It includes an introductory, kid-friendly app called Swift Playgrounds, as well as third-party apps, teacher guides, lesson plans, and a focus on helping students visualize both what the code is doing and what practical uses they can put it to, such as programming robots. The program goes all the way through college, eventually graduating students to coding on Mac and developing iOS apps.
For this latest initiative, Apple and its educational partners tailored the program's curriculum for accessibility, including additional resources and tools such as tactile maps, FaceTime gesture and facial capture, Type to Siri, closed captioning, iPhone hearing aids, and VoiceOver, a gesture-based screen reader. Physical motor accessibility has also been taken into account through Switch Control, a built-in iPad feature that allows devices such as joysticks to be used for screen control.