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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

New technologies will expand coding camp accessibility for youth with vision loss

Ontario Tech researchers awarded federal PromoScience funding

Code Jumper setup in the Faculty of Business and Information Technology Human Machine Laboratory at Ontario Tech University. Code Jumper retails for about C$1,300. Ontario Tech researchers are developing prototypes of new paper models for visually impaired youth to learn coding at home in an affordable way, with considerations of different paper textures (feel) and perfume (smell) for visually impaired students to bring back home after a summer coding camp at the university.
Code Jumper setup in the Faculty of Business and Information Technology Human Machine Laboratory at Ontario Tech University. Code Jumper retails for about C$1,300. Ontario Tech researchers are developing prototypes of new paper models for visually impaired youth to learn coding at home in an affordable way, with considerations of different paper textures (feel) and perfume (smell) for visually impaired students to bring back home after a summer coding camp at the university.

Traditional teaching models in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known as ‘STEM’ disciplines) heavily rely on visual media where students see, learn, and practise. For example, visual programming employs blocks representing coding logic that allows instructors to introduce beginners to writing code in a drag-and-drop manner.

Unfortunately, such a teaching approach creates entry barriers for youth with visual impairments due to the lack of accessible materials and effective delivery strategies.

Ontario Tech University researchers Dr. Patrick Hung, Dr. Alvaro Quevedo, and Dr. Miguel Vargas Martin of the Faculty of Business and Information Technology (FBIT) explore ways to provide accessible technology such as haptic technology and Code Jumper for visually impaired youth to learn visual programming. Haptic technology creates an experience of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user.

The Ontario Tech research project (‘Accessible Coding Camps for Youth with Visual Impairment’) has received new federal funding support through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada’s (NSERC) PromoScience Program. PromoScience supports hands-on learning experiences for young students and their teachers. Grants cover improvements to program content or delivery, as well as new programs and activities.

“Code Jumper provides students a learn-coding experience by connecting together brightly coloured physical blocks, which are about the size of a softball,” says Dr. Hung, Associate Professor, FBIT. “The classes will be delivered online via the university’s Learning Management System with a summer camp that is designed to engage youth with visual impairments from grades 9 to 12.”

This program will be conducted jointly by FBIT at Ontario Tech University and by OCAD University, with the co-operation of Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai, Head of Research, and Chief Inclusion and Accessibility Officer with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Supporting industry partners A Square Quality Training and SenseTech Inc. have experiences in technology for visual impairment.

Dr. Hung’s research team is also working on a new paper block model with braille in different paper textures and smells. The goal is to provide an affordable tactile-interactive way for visually impaired students to self-learn computer coding at home.

The funding will be used to provide human, software, and hardware resources for supporting both online teaching and the residential camp over the next three years.