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

  • From: Kerneels Roos <kerneels@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 07 Apr 2011 19:16:02 +0200

Bill, I think it's a brilliant idea. What Jim said is probably a very good idea -- partner with an organization that is already offering distance learning for visually impaired students.

In terms of accreditation and graduates being hired, I think the world has changed significantly such that if the classes are relevant and of a high standard, and if the school has an active contracting division then it will attract attention without needing any kind of accreditation. In addition, the contracting work division could offer instant employment for graduates already.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to make a study of what is available already, for example, many distance learning universities offer full degree programs and there is no reason why visually impaired people couldn't make use of those already. If the courses are inaccessible then the university should be taken to task to change this, and that would be a worthy cause to lobby for.

On 4/7/2011 6:48 PM, Homme, James wrote:
Time for one of my silly questions. What does Lions World do that is different 
from this? Perhaps you could augment what they do in some way. For example, I 
would never go and live there for a while, but if they offered distance 
education, I might take it. Another thought would be to approach Hadley, 
because they excel in this area. Perhaps they could host courses, and all you'd 
need to do would be to build the courses according to their specificationas and 
help them get teachers.


Jim Homme,
Usability Services,
Phone: 412-544-1810. Skype: jim.homme
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-----Original Message-----
From: programmingblind-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
[mailto:programmingblind-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Jackie McBride
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2011 12:43 PM
To: programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: Searching for blind programmer to start a school for blind 


Well, Cisco Academy for the Vision Impaired is already
doing this in terms of cisco networking, so u might wanna look at how
they do the classroom part of it, anyway.

Here's where I see a problem,&  u can tell me where to go or whatever,
but when orgs graduate folks&  the diploma contains the words "blind"
or "visually impaired" or similar, it's a dead giveaway to the person
reading the resume,&, though it's not legal, they then just get set
aside. Believe me I've had it happen more times than I can count that
folks called me in for an interview,&, understanding for the 1st time
that I was blind, told me they'd just filled the position. If it'd
happened only once, I'd say "well, maybe", but...

The other problem is that if the school isn't accredited, the
likelihood of actually being hired is pretty minimal. Just some things
to think about in terms of obstacles to overcome.

On 4/7/11, RicksPlace<ofbgmail@xxxxxxxxx>  wrote:
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>
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2011 12:02 PM
Subject: Searching for blind programmer to start a school for blind

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:

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.

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Blame the computer--why not? It can't defend itself&  occasionally
might even be the culprit
Jackie McBride
Jaws Scripting training materials:
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Kerneels Roos
Cell: +27 (0)82 309 1998
Skype: cornelis.roos

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