Accessible Presentations

Last month I conducted a workshop for programming students with limited hearing. I have given a lot of talks but felt anxious about this one. I wanted them to learn and be inspired by the workshop, so I prepared a lot starting 3 weeks before.

I knew beforehand that their experience would range from total beginners with no programming experience to moderate experience in C# and Java. Most of them were new to the web platform.

Some of the things I learned while preparing and giving the workshop:

Less text, more visuals

I was lucky to have the advice of a teacher who works with deaf students, her first recommendation was: “Do not add long paragraphs. They won’t follow”.

It turns out that deaf people process words different and the way we write is not natural to them. Later she told me that most students struggle with long text explanations.

With that in mind I replaced text explanations with diagrams or just removed them.

Small steps

When the range of experience is diverse, it’s possible that some people need more time to complete a task and if the current one is prerequisite for the next they would be left behind and would quickly lost motivation.

My strategy to avoid this:

  • Use CodePen (so no time wasted on setup)
  • Have a base pen https://codepen.io/hugozap/pen/wdQMgM?editors=1010
  • Start with basic, simple tasks and slowly increase difficulty.
  • For every step, have the solution on a Pen so if anyone is left behind, that person could start the next challenge from a good starting point.

Conclusion

I enjoyed the experience and days later the University contacted me because they asked for more workshops. That made me happy. Some students kept practicing and sharing their learning process with me and that’s always encouraging.

Published

27 June 2017


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