Apple wants Bay Area-based blind, deaf students to learn how to code

FREMONT — Apple wants to teach students how to code — regardless of their ability to see and hear.

Apple announced on Thursday it is partnering with the California School for the Blind and the California School for the Deaf, along with six other schools nationwide, to teach blind and deaf students how to code. Starting this fall, the schools will teach their students how to code using Swift, Apple’s customized coding language.

The announcement is the latest news about Apple’s growing investments in the education sector, centered on its push to educate millions of students how to code via Swift.

In March, Apple held an entire education-focused product event, during which it unveiled a new $299 iPad focused on students in a Chicago high school. Apple chose Chicago as its product venue — not Cupertino or San Jose as usual — after its public school district announced last December its 500,000 students will participate in Apple’s Everyone Can Code curriculum.

The students will learn how to code on Swift with iPads. For those with disabilities, Apple will provide accommodating technologies that enable them to learn to code.

Blind and low-vision students will use VoiceOver, which allows the computer to give auditory descriptions of each onscreen element and allows users to interact using gestures, a keyboard, or a braille display.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing students will be able to use FaceTime to capture every gesture and facial expression, and the Type to Siri feature, which allows interaction with the voice assistant Siri via keyboard closed captions. The students will also get special Apple hearing aids to be able to hear better.

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