Microsoft is working to adapt a coding program for students ages 7 to 11 to include their peers with visual impairments. Project Torino uses beads that snap together to create simple software programs as a bridge to digital programming tools to teach foundational coding skills to students with special needs. The researchers listened to students with visual impairments and incorporated some of their design suggestions, such as adding more colors and making the pieces larger.
At the moment this program is only in the UK, but the hope is eventually to make it more widely available to people outside the UK.
The goal of the program is really to help students to develop concepts that will enable them to become like computer programmers or computational thinkers. Using the coding tools, students can do things like make songs, even incorporating silly noises, poetry and sounds they create themselves. The ultimate aim of the project is to open careers in computer science or related fields to people with visual impairments.