Like-minded organizations team up to close the digital divide by making Scratch, the free-coding platform and community, accessible to deaf students.
BOSTON, MA — Scratch, the world’s largest free creative coding platform and community for young people, recently announced its partnership with Deaf Kids Code. The collaboration between Scratch and Deaf Kids Code, a non-profit that teaches computer science and digital design skills to deaf students, makes it possible for Deaf students to learn creative coding programs through the platform’s American Sign Language (ASL) integration and connect with Scratch’s dynamic global network.
Deaf students and those with other disabilities have been especially impacted by the unexpected shift to remote and hybrid learning. Many of these students have inequitable access to technology infrastructure and devices — known as the digital divide. What’s more, the technology being used to fill the gap is not always inclusive to the needs of Deaf students. This scenario exacerbates the digital divide and perpetuates the cycle of unequal treatment that many students with disabilities face in education today.
“There's no reason for us to not be able to build equitable opportunities for all students, including the deaf, to learn computing, technology, and creative design skills,” said Shireen Hafeez, Founder, Deaf Kids Code. “We know we’re in the next industrial revolution — and by working with Scratch we are ensuring that every student has a foundational opportunity to learn and develop skills they will undoubtedly need in the future.”
To increase accessibility for the Deaf, Scratch integrated ASL into its creative coding platform, tutorials and resources. This paves the way for Deaf students to learn computer programming skills and collaborate with Scratch’s community of more than 29 million active users in 195 countries around the globe.
“As a Deaf woman, I found myself wishing I had access to programs like this when I was younger. There is power in this partnership and we are excited to be a part of it,” said Nadmi Casiano, program head at Deaf Kids Code.
Shawna Young, Executive Director at Scratch, agrees and added, “This powerful collaboration between Scratch and Deaf Kids Code is enabling all students to explore new interests and skills in the world of technology, design, and computer science. We are thrilled to work together and look forward to elevating opportunities to imagine, create, share and learn for all students, everywhere.”
Although the full impact of the partnership has yet to be seen, Casiano said she’s already seeing the value of the program and the excitement it brings to her students.
She said, “Deaf children are loving the hands-on activities and the sense of community they get on Scratch. They are so visual — and really enjoy creating and sharing on the platform. I definitely give Scratch two thumbs up!”
For more information about the Scratch Foundation and its efforts to spread creative, caring, collaborative, equitable approaches to coding and learning around the world, visit https://www.scratchfoundation.org.
Deaf Kids Code
Deaf Kids Code is a non-profit organization that is on a mission to bridge the economic and social gaps that exist among the deaf/hard of hearing through the cultivation of design thinking, computing, and technology skills. To learn more, visit https://www.deafkidscode.org/.
The Scratch Foundation
The Scratch Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to providing opportunities and encouraging kids to explore their creativity, new interests and skills in the world of technology and coding. Through innovation and collaboration, the Scratch Foundation provides these opportunities to kids through a multitude of pathways. The Scratch platform is a free programming language and online community where you can create your own interactive stories, games, and animations. The Scratch Education Collaborative (SEC) is an initiative that supports and engages participating organizations from around the world in a two-year, collaborative cohort experience to strengthen their organization’s commitment to, and implementation of, equitable creative computing.