RE: Python?

  • From: "Reed Poynter" <reed.poynter@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2009 13:07:06 -0800

:)Pardon my ignorance...:)
What's ÚÚ? 

-----Original Message-----
From: programmingblind-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:programmingblind-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Chris Hofstader
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2009 12:38
To: programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: Python?

I still think that either Lisp or its MIT cousin, Scheme is the best starter
language and that Sussman, Sussman and Abelson is the best text book.  This
was the standard at the top CS programs for years but pressure moved some
places of higher education to move to Java so why not Python or Lua or
something else?  Lisp/Scheme is an amazing teaching language and, if one is
lucky enough to get to work in Lisp in a production environment
(evolutionary algorithms in securities trading software is nearly all still
in Lisp as is a lot of stuff at
NSA)  you will really appreciate the raw power at your fingertips that make
all so-called "modern" languages look like pee wee adventures.

On Feb 12, 2009, at 12:29 PM, Jamal Mazrui wrote:

> As you may be aware, there seems to be an increasing trend toward 
> using Python in beginning computer science courses, e.g., as argued in 
> the following articles:
> In Praise of Scripting:  Real Programming Pragmatism 
> Why Python is a great language for teaching beginners in introductory 
> programming classes 
> The Case For Replacing Java With Python In Education 
> python-in-education/
> Teaching programming
> While a lot of these arguments are persuasive to me, I do think Python 
> presents significant usability obstacles to beginning blind 
> programmers, unfortunately.  I agree with the defense that indentation 
> is a good practice that sighted programmers expect, but the problem is 
> not just indenting code like in other languages.  With Python, there 
> are no keywords or punctuation marks that a screen reader user (with 
> speech) will automatically encounter when reading code.  Instead, one 
> has to often check the current indentation level and then translate 
> that mentally into a code grouping.  It is different for a sighted 
> person, where the grouping is simultaneously evident from the 
> indentation as the eye views multiple lines at once.  I agree with 
> others that automatic styling utilities/code beutifiers work well 
> enough with other languages so that indentation can be adjusted for 
> sighted consumption if not initially done.
> Another problem of Python is case-sensitivity.  Most languages are 
> case sensitive, so this is not unusual, but not getting tripped up by 
> case is friendlier to beginners.  A blind person hearing code is 
> probably not as aware of how identifiers are capitalized when 
> different choices could be made, e.g., OpenXMLFile or OpenXmlFile.
> Another issue is how Python tends to run words together instead of 
> consistently using either PascalCase or snake_case.  This makes 
> reading with speech less intelligible.
> Let me be clear that Python has a lot going for it -- I'm just citing 
> problems from a blindness perspective, since you asked.  These 
> problems are manageable with various techniques, as demonstrated by 
> blind programmers on this and other lists.  They are extra challenges, 
> however, that sighted beginners do not face.
> Personally, I have come to the view that Visual Basic .NET is 
> currently the best language for a beginning blind programmer to learn.  
> I realize it is Windows-oriented, however, rather than cross-platform, 
> which may be important in a computer science curriculum.
> I guess the needs of someone wanting to graduate in CS or a related 
> subject are different from someone else, e.g., a liberal arts major, 
> who justs wants to take an introductory programming course.  It can be 
> expected that a CS-like student would need to manage challenges that a 
> casual programming student would not.  Also, a CS-like student would 
> need to learn more about theory and have a language that supports 
> advanced techniques.
> Just my opinions -- others differ.
> Jamal
> On Thu, 12 Feb 2009,
> Suzanne Balik wrote:
>> Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2009 08:07:29 -0500
>> From: Suzanne Balik <spbalik@xxxxxxxx>
>> Reply-To: programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
>> To: programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
>> Subject: Python?
>> Could some of you comment on using Python to teach programming at the 
>> college level and the effect that would have, if any, on blind 
>> students?
>> Thanks so much,
>> Suzanne
>> --
>> Suzanne Balik          Computer Science Dept  Box 8206
>> Adjunct Lecturer       North Carolina State University
>> EB II 2318             Raleigh, NC 27695-8206
>> (919)515-5617
>> When life kicks you, let it kick you forward.  Kay Yow __________ 
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