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Microsoft is helping visually impaired children learn to code with physical blocks

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Available in several countries this year

Microsoft has been working on a physical programming language for children who are blind or visually impaired. Dubbed Code Jumper, it allows children to learn coding by connecting physical blocks together. Each block is around the size of a softball, and brightly colored. There are different sizes for different commands, and children can connect them together to build a program.

It’s designed to offer students a basic understanding of coding between the ages of seven and eleven, and Microsoft originally developed Code Jumper as Project Torino in its research labs a couple of years ago. It started as an improved version of block coding for the visually impaired, to address issues where traditional screen readers or magnifiers weren’t enough.

Microsoft has been working closely with the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) to tweak its system, and it’s now handing its work off to the APH so students can start to gain access to it. APH is now planning to release Code Jumper in Australia, Canada, India, the UK, and the US this year, with worldwide availability expected over the next five years.