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Helping Coders of the Future to Understand Digital Accessibility

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This year on 19 May, Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), we participated in CoderDojo London’s launch of a new, groundbreaking series of accessibility-themed Dojo. The kick-off event centered around learning about visual impairment and digital accessibility.

CoderDojo is a global movement of free, volunteer-led, community-based programming clubs for young people. At a Dojo, young people learn how to code, develop websites, apps, programmes, games and explore technology in a buzzing, creative environment.

This inaugural ‘Accessibility Dojo’ aimed to get the future Mark Zuckerbergs and Jack Dorseys of the world talking, thinking and learning about digital accessibility and users with different capabilities. 24 young ‘coding ninjas’ from St. Vincent’s School, a specialist school for sensory impairment, Haberdasher’s Aske’s – Hatcham College, and CoderDojo Youth mentors participated in the Dojo.

By collaborating with Salesforce, Thomson Reuters, the Royal National Institute for the Blind, BBC’s Make It Digital and of course, Recite Me, this unique initiative invited sighted and visually impaired children to come together in a fun environment to learn more about accessibility and inclusivity in a society that is becoming rapidly more digital.

To expose these ‘coding ninjas’ to the challenges associated with accessibility online, we put together a project called “Spot the Difference” for the kids to solve.

“Spot the Difference” is a web accessibility puzzle of two identical looking websites. One of the website’s incorporated good accessibility features and associated technologies, and the other did not.

The task for the kids, in groups of two or three with a mix of visually impaired and sighted kids, was to identify and fix the accessibility issues on the websites. The accessibility issues were a mix of visual problems, as well as what was actually in the website’s code. Some of the tasks needed to use screen reading software, such as Include Me, along with additional reading software to assist the children who were blind.

The “Spot the Difference” project was an interactive way to teach the ‘coding ninjas’ about the accessibility issues facing visually impaired individuals in our modern, digital society. It was also an opportunity to show the children how technology can help people with hearing or visual difficulties to navigate the web.

Hopefully the Accessibility CoderDojo London sparked an interest in the next generation of digital developers to incorporate accessibility into their future apps, programming, games and websites.

If you want to become more accessible on your own websites, be sure to check out our website accessibility checker and assistive plugin tool today.

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