Re: Searching for blind programmer to start a school for blind programmers

  • From: "RicksPlace" <ofbgmail@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 7 Apr 2011 12:16:29 -0400

Hi Bill: That is a good idea.
It is a major undertaking.
You will likely want one or more accredited teachers for various reasons including funding and the use of free, or low cost, software and have your school accredited. Getting Professional Programmers to teach a class for the blind should be doable enough if you get accredited and your rules of operation allow non teachers to teach classes. After that, you might talk to a 501 c organization to allow you to work under their cincorporation so you don't have to setup and manage your own Corporation with all the documentation and tax requirements. The technicals should be doable using something like a online vvoice chat room with the ability to upload and download documents for classwork.
That's all I have on this subject.
Later and good luck Bill.
Rick USA
----- Original Message ----- From: "Bill Cox" <waywardgeek@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2011 12:02 PM
Subject: Searching for blind programmer to start a school for blind programmers


This is still in the dumb-idea phase, and I don't have any funding
lined up to get this started.  That said...

I have not been able to find any on-line school for teaching blind
people to become professional programmers.  I feel the world needs
such an organization.  I am not able to start such a school myself,
but I would be interested in assisting social entrepreneurs in
starting such a venture.  I it would best be implemented as a
for-profit social entrepreneurial venture.  You can read about social
entrepreneurs here:

http://www.ashoka.org/social_entrepreneur
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_entrepreneurship

I'm thinking it could be a Low Profit Corporation (LPC) founded to run
the school for a profit.  Everyone hired in teaching or management
would be vision impaired or blind.  Students would attend classes
on-line, and could be anywhere in the world.  Classes would not be
free (maybe $1,000 per 1-semester course?).  Students who are too poor
to pay would be expected to do well in their courses and make up their
fees by assisting teaching of those courses in later semesters.  They
might also be required to work for an associated consulting company to
earn tuition.  Students would be encouraged to help mentor each other
in any case.

Associated with the school could be a software consulting services
company.  The company would only hire vision impaired programmers, and
students wanting to work for the company could take classes designed
to train them in the skills they'll need.  The company might encourage
it's employees to spend one day a week on FOSS projects of their
interest, which hopefully would include improving accessibility.

Rough numbers to back up the idea:  There are around 15 million people
with "severe" vision impairments in the US.  Roughly half of those
people are too old.  Half of the rest may have other impairments that
would prevent them from becoming programmers.  In the general
population, there are 1 programmer out of every 500 people in the US.
I would expect a ratio at least that high among the blind, or about
7,500 professional programmers in the US alone.  If we took 20 years
to train that many, it'd be 375 new students per year, and assuming a
two year program, we'd have 750 students.  If only half paid the class
fees, but took three classes at a time (a full load), that'd be
$3,000*750*2 = $4.5 million per year.  My kids go to a school which
happens to have about 750 students and a budget of just over $4
million per year, and that includes paying for a school.  So, that
math seems to work out, but we're not talking about anyone making a
billion dollars in this effort.  This is not a VC-fundable idea, but
it might attract funding from groups that invest in socially
beneficial startups.

I know a couple of good candidates to start this school, and one might
be interested in actually doing it.  Are there any good blind or
vision impaired people you guys could recommend for me to talk to?  I
think the key would be finding the right couple of guys.

Thanks,
Bill
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