t-Scratch: Tangible Programming Environment

t-scratch schematic

tScratch: Tangible Programming Environment Targeted for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired

Introductory programming languages are overwhelmingly designed with sighted students in mind. Our goal is to expand and enhance scratch (https://scratch.mit.edu/), a block-based visual programming language and online community targeted primarily at children with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) concepts. The addition of tactile programming tiles, a specialized haptic coding grid, and an auditory interface will provide beginning programming instruction for students either as individual learners or as part of a classroom. Blind, low vision, and sighted students will be able to learn together, increasing student engagement, and programming knowledge retention for all students without the need for a separate curriculum.

The tScratch Team:
• Virginia Commonwealth University (Dr. D. Pawluk, B. Goolsby, H.W. Kim)
• The Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute (Dr. G. Fusco, C. Pitcher-Cooper)
• San Francisco State University (Dr. T. Siu)
• Evaluators: Praxis Associates (Dr. Y. Susskind, Dr. J. Susskind)
• Consultant: S. O’Modhrain (University of Michigan)

Our multi city, multi-discipline partnership welcomes the involvement of teachers of grades 8-12, teachers for the visually impaired and both adults and older children who are blind or vision impaired. Please contact us to get involved in our study!

We expect tScratch will:
• Strengthen the ability to apply programming concepts
• Expand and enhance student teamwork
• Challenge and change current classroom perceptions of blind, low vision and sighted students learning collaboratively.
• Increase individual interest and challenge current social perception of ability for blind and low vision students in computing science/STEM
• Show how blind and vision impaired student classroom inclusion through Universal design for learning concepts creates better learning for all students.

tScratch aims to be a multifaceted tactile, auditory and online programming approach
• tangible + audio interface to the Scratch programming environment, usable by blind and vision impaired students alone or as part of a team
• tangible coding tiles that allow for moderate program complexity and with similar features as Scratch
• a tangible organizational structure with audio guidance to navigate code development and debugging
• Instructional material to allow teaching of blind, vision impaired and sighted students together