Microsoft Code Talk improving the experience for developers with visual impairment


According to a report by the World Health Organization, there are about 285 million people who cannot read all the content on a regular screen due to some form of visual impairment. Out of these, 39 million people are blind and are incapable of accessing an information on screens.


Today, developers across the world are using the graphically dense interface of integrated development environments (IDEs) in order to get more information on the code they are working on; leveraging visual cues in order to access the information on their code with little more than a quick glance. However this becomes a challenge for developers with visual impairments, who are unable to see information on their code.


IDEs are designed to boost productivity. Developers on the platform have access to a range of tools that help them monitor the code, rectify errors, debug, and modify their programs. Bright colors indicate code syntax, squiggly red lines underscore errors in the code, and multiple windows are required to run a debugging process. Graphical models are used to represent the code structure, the performance of the programme and bottlenecks in the architecture.


Although developers with low vision and severe visual impairments can use IDEs with the aid of screen readers, the experience is incomplete since screen readers miss out on these essential visual cues. A screen reader, for example, cannot describe a bar chart or graphical model on the platform. This is a problem even for coders with visual impairment who use a refreshable braille display. Not only does this impede productivity, but it also makes the experience of creating something on the platform needlessly frustrating.


Microsoft’s Project CodeTalk helps developers with visual impairment get involved in creating and developing new technologies with the power of code. Project CodeTalk converts graphical user interfaces (GUIs) into audio user interfaces (AUIs) which helps the developers with visual impairment use platforms at par with everyone else.


Project CodeTalk is another example of Microsoft’s commitment to inclusion.