NewsLocal News


Alphapointe's technology camp teaches visually impaired coding through music

Alphapointe technology camp
Posted at 8:53 AM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 09:53:20-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Alphapointe's week-long technology camp is one of a kind in the Midwest.

Middle and high school students are using songs instead of sight to code, in a place where vision may be limited, but possibilities are endless.

"I'm a very tech-savvy person and like I've done coding," student, Lyra Thompson said. "I know how to do a lot of stuff on computers and have been really interested in it in a long time."

It's the reason she's been going to Alphapointe's technology camp for years.

"Having a camp that's all about technology but makes it adaptive for visually impaired people is just like a great thing," Thompson said.

She's one of 30 participants in the technology camp.

Students are from everywhere; some as far as Washington state and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

They're learning about different software and adaptive technologies such as audible screen readers and zooming/magnifying devices

"These kids can do anything their sighted peers can do," Alphapointe senior manager for programming and events, Jake McLaughlin said. "We just have to do it a little bit differently."

During the week-long camp, students were introduced to the Microsoft program: Code Jumper.

"What you are looking at there are nodes and receivers and essentially the students will put together a song that already has a prewritten code behind it. And when they put that song together, the melody and notes in the correct order, then they complete the line of coding," McLaughlin said. "When you get it wrong you get the wrong sound that comes out of that so you can learn without having to visually see any of the lines of coding."

For Thompson, the camp not only provides an opportunity to learn but brings forth ideas of her own for the future.

"As someone who's made, who's interested like web developing and has worked on a few projects for fun, I want to make sure we're going to add alt text to images so the screen reader, the blind person can know what the image is or to have big texts and high contrast so that it's easily readable for someone who has some vision," Thompson said. "Think that just making everything accessible as accessible as you can whether you think it's important as a sighted person or not is the biggest thing you could do."

Friday is their last day at camp. Each participant will go home with a laptop that has the adaptive software installed.