Microsoft’s Project Torino helps visually impaired learn Coding the easy way

Inclusive development means ensuring participation of all marginalized and excluded groups as stakeholders in development processes. Naturally, disabled or differently abled persons like visually impaired individuals also have a role to play in this process. Microsoft intends to empower them with its latest technology and tools. As such, the company’s research division has introduced Project Torino, a unique physical programming language meant to help visually impaired children learn to code.

Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project Torino

Project Torino is geared toward kids of age between 7 to 11. Initially, the program was in the testing phase for a year with a very small number of users. However, it has now progressed to beta phase and being opened up to at least a fixed number of visually impaired pupils.

The project features certain coding tools. using these coding tools, students can do things like make songs, poetry and sounds they create themselves. While building codes, students learn the kind of programming concepts that lead to careers in computer science or related fields.

Coding has often been thought of as a promising career path for people with visual impairments. In recent years, however, computer science has come to rely much more on pictorial, graphical and conceptual coding methods, making it harder for kids with visual impairments to get exposed to the field, said Steve Tyler, head of solutions, strategy and planning for the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

I see this project a little bit like that,” he said. “It brings to life, in a 21st century way, that kind of ability to teach children these new concepts”, he further added.

In addition to this tool, Microsoft researchers have also developed an app for children to help them continue their development in a more formal coding environment with built-in accessibility tools.

For more information, see Microsoft Blogs.

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The author Hemant Saxena is a post-graduate in technology and has an immense interest in following Microsoft and other technology developments around the world. Quiet by nature, he is an avid Lacrosse player.