Bona uBuntu Programme Director Robyn Fick with three blind learners from Gqeberha Sinothando Zozi, Anelitha Sijaka and Masibulele Naki.

Coding workshops for blind and visually impaired students are taking place this September throughout South Africa to make the skill a more inclusive one.


Gquberha, South Africa (08 September 2023) – Bridging the digital divide by making coding more inclusive to visually impaired youth across South Africa is the focus of a new national educational project.

In partnership with the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU), Bona Africa (a partnership between Tangible Africa and Bona uBuntu) is training teachers from schools for the visually impaired across all nine provinces during a series of 16 workshops in September.

During these workshops, the teachers are equipped with tactile tools and the TANKS Coding App to introduce learners to the wonderful world of coding, according to Tangible Africa Founder and Head of the Department and Associate Professor at the Nelson Mandela University Computing Sciences Department, Prof Jean Greyling.

“We have already hosted workshops in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape, including training some blind teachers at two venues. We are also making our training material available in braille,” said Greyling.

Last year Tangible Africa partnered with various teacher unions to train 17 0000 teachers across South Africa to implement tangible coding in their classrooms. 

SADTU Vice President Faseega Solomon welcomes the opportunity to again partner with Tangible Africa on this very worthy project.

“The ability of the Tangible Africa facilitators to impart knowledge and skills in an engaging and interactive manner has been greatly appreciated by SADTU teachers who have already attended the training sessions. The training was content-rich, engaging, practical and fun. After the training teachers indicated that they felt confident and excited to teach coding to their blind and visually impaired learners using the specialised adapted kits,” said Solomon.

Tangible Africa trainer Trudie Didloff with blind teacher Anzatshilidza Moiofhe in Kimberley.

Coding for VIPs

Bona Africa is a collaborative project between Tangible Africa and the Eastern Cape non-profit programme, Bona uBuntu, and was piloted in Gqeberha last year. Coding was introduced as an afterschool activity for Grade 5, 6 and 7 learners who attended the Bona uBuntu Programme. 

Bona uBuntu Programme coordinator Robyn Fick and her team started exploring various ways to convert the TANKS App into a fully accessible game for both blind and low-vision children. 

“For the blind learners, it was clear that the tokens used for the TANKS coding game had to be tactile and include braille, while the coding challenges on the phone had to be made concrete and tactile. We partnered with Jonathan Kruger from Craft3D to develop & create 3D-printed tactile versions of each level,” said Fick. 

For the partially sighted learners, the emphasis was on contrast, colour, and size – which would enable them to use their remaining vision to play, said Fick. 

Tangible Africa Developer Roslyn Tait redesigned the interface of the TANKS App to provide a high contrast mode for partially sighted learners, and much bigger tokens were printed. 

Further supporting materials were adapted to ensure accessibility. Specially designed high-contrast grid mats are being produced in Soshanguve, the black cloths for high contrast mat come from Mthatha and the other tactile objects for the kit are manufactured by a local Gqeberha couple. 

Funds were raised through a crowd-sourcing drive to develop the Bona Africa tools. 

“Inclusive education and ensuring all have equal access are shared objectives of Tangible Africa and Bona uBuntu. While Bona uBuntu strives to ensure that partially sighted and blind children develop their full potential and participate in an inclusive society, Tangible Africa is a coding movement spreading coding skills to as many people as possible across the continent,” said Greyling

Sources: Supplied 
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

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