• 39th CSUN Assistive Technology Conference - March 18-22, 2024 at the Anaheim Marriott

    The Premier AT Conference

39th Annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Has Concluded

Bringing Accessibility to Block Languages

Date & Time
Wednesday, March 20, 2024 - 2:20 PM PDT  
Grand JK  

Computer science education has gradually moved away from computer programming languages based on text, which output programs in the console, to highly visual, yet largely inaccessible block languages. Such languages typically make heavy use of visualization, often exclusively use the mouse, and rely on 2D or 3D graphics in a canvas space. Nearly all block languages are partially or fully inaccessible to various groups with disabilities.

We have created a new block programming environment, based on the accessible Quorum programming language. This multi-platform environment conforms to accessibility principles and combines accessible blocks, the input, with an accessible 2D and 3D scene editing system, the output. The system is compatible with screen readers and has been undergoing extensive testing with people with disabilities in practice.

In this session, we will highlight block languages and discuss strategies for making them accessible. We will also demonstrate Quorum's block language, especially its accessibility features. Finally, we will showcase how it can be used both in the classroom and for general purpose programming. In doing so, we will highlight an array of block based programs, including one for accessible 3D graphics and another for accessible data science with charts. For both, we will use screen readers and the accessibility infrastructure to demonstrate its strengths and limitations.

This Presentation Link is provided by the Presenter(s) and not hosted by the Center on Disabilities at CSUN. The Center on Disabilities has confirmed, as of March 26, 2024, content linked is relevant to the presentation, but has not been reviewed for accessibility nor will the Center on Disabilities attempt to remediate any accessibility issues in the linked content. Please contact the Presenter(s) with any accessibility concerns.

  • Higher Education
  • Information & Communications Technology
  • K-12 Education
  • Research & Development
Audience Level
Session Summary (Abstract)
Block languages are ubiquitous in computer science education, but remain inaccessible. We will review our work toward making block languages accessible and highlight a production ready environment built on the Quorum programming language for classroom use.  
Primary Topic
Secondary Topics
  • Blind/Low Vision
  • Education
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Product Demonstration
Session Type
General Track  


  • Andreas Stefik
    University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Derrick Smith
    University of Alabama, Huntsville

Add to Outlook/iCal (How it works)

Back to Session List