through speakers or headphones. In addition to making the block-based languages accessible to a screen reader for
blind students, adding a say command
for output could make them more fun
for all children.
We argue that “For All” in “Computer
Science For All” means all K– 12 students, including the underrepresented
in computing fields: women, Blacks,
Hispanics, Native Americans, and students with disabilities. There are challenges to such inclusion, particularly
with respect to students with disabilities. Many countries are grappling with
introducing computer science to K– 12
education. The United Kingdom has a
grass-roots organization called Computing at Schoolsh helping to coordinate nationwide efforts. According to
European Schoolnet’s 2015 survey, 18
European countries have integrated
or will integrate computer coding in
2 Centralized education systems
might make changing the curriculum
easier, but all will have difficulty preparing teachers. “Computer Science
For All” will be interpreted differently
from country to country. What is meant
by “all” remains a challenge.
1. Burgstahler, S. Universal design: Implications for
computing education. Trans. Comput. Educ. 11, 3
Article 19 (Oct. 2011).
2. Computing our future: Computer programming and
coding Priorities, school curricula and initiatives across
Europe, by European Schoolnet; http://bit.ly/1Zy3Mzq
3. Eglash, R., Gilbert, J.E., and Foster, E. Toward
culturally responsive computing education. Commun.
ACM 56, 7 (July 2013), 33–36.
Richard E. Ladner ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a
professor in computer science and engineering at the
University of Washington. He is the principal investigator
for the two NSF-funded projects AccessComputing and
Access10K, the later of which focus on access to K– 12
computer science education by students with disabilities.
He also has a research program that focuses on
technology to benefit people with disabilities.
Maya Israel ( email@example.com) is an assistant
professor of special education at the University of Illinois.
Her primary areas of specialization include supporting
students’ meaningful access to science, technology,
engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning through
Universal Design for Learning, instructional strategies,
and technologies. She is co-principal investigator on
an NSF STEM+C project that is focused on integrating
computational thinking into mathematics education.
This material is based upon work supported by the
National Science Foundation under grant numbers
CNS-1539179 and CNS-1440843.
Copyright held by authors.
individualizing standard lesson plans
for each student. Although UDL increases access and engagement for all learners (including those with disabilities),
it may need to be further augmented
by pedagogical approaches for specific
learners with disabilities. These have
not been fully studied for computer science education, but studies from other
content areas show promise. Many students need explicit instruction in computational concepts and procedural
approaches relevant to CS but not provided in the students’ IEPs. Emerging
research from the CS education community might provide better guidelines.
Accommodations and accessible materials. Accommodations for students
with disabilities, typically provided in
IEPs or 504 plans, increase accessibility and/or allow students to demonstrate
what they know. However, an accommodation often does not reflect grade-level
expectations for students. Accommodations like extra time on exams, sign language interpreters or real-time captioners, or Braille might not be sufficient if
course materials are inaccessible as is the
case for too many K– 12 CS course materials. Typical course materials for young
students include block-based programming languages like Scratch (https://
scratch.mit.edu/), ScratchJr. (http://www.
scratchjr.org/), Tynker (https://www.
tynker.com/), Blockly (https://develop-
ers.google.com/blockly/), App Inventor
and Snap! ( http://snap.berkeley.edu/).
These languages rely on visual access to a
screen where students can drag and drop
blocks that snap together to form programs. Outputs from these programs are
typically animations. Potentially, blind
students might use these with the aid of
a screen reader, but none of them is accessible using a screen reader. By contrast, most programming languages are
text-based, and screen readers are very
good at reading text. “For All” includes
the 28,000 K– 12 blind students in Table
2. We encourage the developers of block
languages to make them accessible and
to develop non-visual activities using
them. Quorum,g a text-based language
designed for young children, is screen-reader accessible, and has the interesting output command “say” that causes
a speech synthesizer to speak the output
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