Increasing the Accessibility of Block Programming Languages

Increasing the Accessibility of Block Programming Languages

Talk title:Increasing the Accessibility of Block Programming Languages

Time and Date: 3:00 PM, Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Location: 235 Weir Hall

Abstract: Drag and drop programming environments enable young learners to begin programming in a friendly, logic-focused manner due to learners having the ability to drag and drop blocks into an editor rather than worry about the syntax errors of a textual programming language. While these environments have proved to be useful tools for young learners, they are not inclusive. Learners with physical disabilities (e.g., visual impairments, motor impairments) are unable to take advantage of these learning environments. Myna is one attempt to increase the usability of drag and drop programming environments by providing a Vocal User Interface that allows learners to program by voice. Myna has been evaluated by a handful of learners with disabilities as well as learners without disabilities. The evaluations demonstrate that Myna is beneficial to learners with motor impairments; however, it does not address the issues associated with visual impairments or vocal impairments. To address these issues, more work is being done using a Tactile Input Modality with future endeavors to work with eye tracking.

Bio: Dr. Amber Wagner graduated from Kennesaw State University in 2003 with a B.S. in Computer Science and a Spanish minor. Soon after graduating, she began teaching Computer Science at the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) in Birmingham, Alabama. As ASFA did not have a Computer Science curriculum at that time, she was given the creative freedom to develop her own curriculum and Computer Science program. In 2008, she graduated with a M.S. in Information Systems from Kennesaw State University where she simultaneously began working for the university’s IT department. She quickly became an Assistant Director in the department leading project management, strategy, and application development. Missing the classroom, Dr. Wagner returned to school in the Fall of 2010 to begin a PhD in Computer Science at the University of Alabama under the guidance of Dr. Jeff Gray. Her dissertation focused on Human-Computer Interaction enabling motorically challenged children to work with GUI applications like Scratch. Dr. Wagner is currently an Assistant Professor at Birmingham-Southern College where she is the Creative and Applied Computing Program Director.

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