A JBrick: Accessible Robotics Programming for Visually Impaired Users

  • Stephanie LudiEmail author
  • Scott Jordan
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9177)


Despite advances in assistive technology, challenges remain in pre-college computer science outreach and university programs for visually impaired students. The use of robotics has been popular in pre-college classrooms and outreach programs, including those that serve underrepresented groups. This paper describes the specific accessibility features implemented in software that provides an accessible Lego Mindstorms NXT programming environment for teenage students who are visually impaired. JBrick is designed to support students with diverse visual acuity and who use needed assistive technology. Field tests over several days showed that JBrick has the potential to accommodate students who are visually impaired as they work together to program Lego Mindstorms NXT robots.


Accessibility Robotics Visual impairment 



JBrick is supported by the National Science Foundation (#1240809). Thanks to students who have contributed to this project, as well as the participants who have provided feedback.


  1. 1.
    American Foundation for the Blind: Statistics and Sources for Professionals. (2006). from American Federation for the Blind:öhlich Accessed March 1 2008
  2. 2.
    Cannon, K., Panciera, K., Papanikolopoulos, N.: Second annual robotics camp for underrepresented students. In: Proceedings of the 12th Annual SIGCSE Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, pp. 14–18, Scotland (2007)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Dorsey, R., Park, C.H., Howard, A.: Developing the capabilities of blind and visually impaired youth to build and program robots. J. Technol. Persons Disabil. 1(1), 55–67 (2014)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Emacspeak Homepage. from Emacspeak Homepage: Accessed April 15 2014
  5. 5.
    Francioni, J., Smith, A.: Computer science accessibility for students with visual disabilities. In: Proceedings of the 33rd SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, pp. 91–95, USA (2002)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Georgia Tech. Technology, Engineering, and Computing Camp. 2010. from Georgia Tech: Accessed January 15 2010
  7. 7.
    Hansen, J.: BricxCC Command Center Homepage. 2007 from BrixcCC: Accessed January 20 2010
  8. 8.
    Howard, A., Park, C.H., Remy, S.: Using haptic and auditory interaction tools to engage students with visual impairments in robot programming activities. IEEE Trans. Learn. Technol. 5(1), 87–95 (2012). doi: 10.1109/TLT.2011.28 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    JavaSpeak Project Homepage. from: Accessed April 30 2014
  10. 10.
    Lego NXT-G EV3 screenshot. from Curious-on-Hudson Homepage: Accessed April 20 2014
  11. 11.
    Ludi, S.: Robotics Programming Tools for Blind Students. J. Technol. Persons Disabil. 1(1), 77–89 (2014)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ludi, S., Reichlmayr, T.: Developing inclusive outreach activities for students with visual impairments. In: Proceedings of the 39th SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, pp. 439–443, USA (2008)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ludi, S., Reichlmayr, T.: The use of robotics to promote computing to pre-college students with visual impairments. ACM Trans. Comput. Educ. 11(3), 1–20 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Marghitu, D.: Computer Literacy Academy for Children Homepage. from Auburn University 2008. Accesed January 22 2010
  15. 15.
    National Federation of the Blind. 2009. Youth Slam 2009 Homepage. from National Federation of the Blind: Accesed January 17 2010
  16. 16.
    National Science Foundation. 2010. Recent Awards for the Broadening Participation in Computing Program from National Science Foundation: Accessed January 22 2010
  17. 17.
    Rarnan, T.V.: Emacspeak - Direct Speech Access. In: Proceedings of Assets 1996, pp. 32–36, Vancouver April 11–12 (1996)
  18. 18.
    Scratch Modification for NXT (Enchanting). Scratch Wiki from Scratch Wiki: Accessed March 25 2014
  19. 19.
    Smith, A., Francioni, J., Matzek, S.: A java programming tool for students with visual disabilities. In: Proceedings of Assets 2000, USA (2000)Google Scholar
  20. 20. FIRST Homepage. from USFIRST: Accessed July 12 2009

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Software Engineering, Department of Computer ScienceRochester Institute of TechnologyRochesterUSA

Personalised recommendations