We all see blind people, almost daily, around ourselves. We even seem them at some of the prestigious positions in society. Have you ever wondered how blind people work, in this technology fixated 21st century? An age where we wake up to buzzing mobile phones and sleep while surfing flickering screens. How a blind person uses this technology? And above all... can a blind person become a programmer? Can a blind person do coding? The answer is a big Yes and you are about to know how.
Meet Florian Beijers, a famous programmer, who runs freecodecamp. He is an expert in programming and has developed a plethora of software solutions. Recently, Beijers has shared the secret about how a blind person codes, interact with computers and---- most importantly---dream.
Here’s the secret: a blind programmer works on a normal laptop, normal machines or a PC. In case of Beijers, he works on a normal, rather a bit outdated Dell Inspiron. The only thing that makes the difference is the software, known as open-source screen reader called NVDA. This software reads the screen in speech, like Siri, a virtual assistant of iOS devices. This software is also used with braille display, which uses a special line of characters that are refreshed periodically, in order to facilitate the blind person to interact.
Beijers says that he developes programs on his laptop, edit and compose music, compose drafts and reports, charts, writes blogs, and all the pro stuff you can imagine. But the question remains the same: How does a blind person performs programming; how can he write complex code snippets; semicolons; keep track of parentheses; and all the dirty stuff involved in coding.
Beijers says that he conceptualizes the programming snippets in mind, taking the help of a screen reader. Here’s what a normal Java code line is spoken to a blind programmer, as quoted by the source.
If left paren x equals five right paren left brace print left paren quote hello world exclaim quote right paren right brace
Sadly, a blind coder cannot use the state of the art latest tools like IntelliJ editors, PHPStorm, WebStorm, PyCharm because they are not designed keeping in view the needs of blind programmers. They cannot work on touch-based and speech-based systems.
Now let’s talk about dreaming. A blind person can dream. Dreams are based on visual and sensory perceptions we experience and feel throughout the day. Beijers explains that a blind person does not “see” anything in the dream. He just feels, smells and touch things, emotions in dreams.
Beijers’ post is inspiring and urges us to rethink our approach to our lives. Thousands of blind people have learnt skills and living purposeful lives, just because of their will.