Deaf high school students learn the language of coding during pilot program

Leticia Juarez Image
Friday, March 22, 2024
Deaf students learning the language of coding in SoCal pilot program
"I just really love technology by doing coding." Deaf students are taking part in a special camp that teaches them about engineering and computer science.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- The sound barrier is not an impediment for deaf students learning the language of coding at a camp hosted by California Baptist University.

"The student will engage with their instructor but they're engaging in another language in something I don't understand and in engineering computer science is very much another language," said Phil Van Haaster, dean of the Gordon and Jill Bourns College of Engineering.

Haaster is heading up a pilot program inviting students from the California School of the Deaf in Riverside to learn coding by creating their own video game.

The eight-hour course is taught by university instructors with the help from American Sign Language interpreters, some of whom are also students with the Center for Deaf Studies.

"There is a lot of finger spelling that goes on because there is a lot of specific jargon related to computer science that we don't have signs for," said Danny Blair, director for the Center of Deaf Studies at California Baptist University.

Seven students participated in the camp where they learn to program a snake which grows as it consumes.

"So it is really great to see how they are making the background, changing colors of the snake. I'm like slow down, slow down, we have to wait for the teacher and his instructions," said Rene Visco with California School for the Deaf in Riverside.

There is a bit of learning curve, but once mastered, students are able to see their video game come to life.

"I just really love technology by doing coding. I love learning with my friends. Sometimes things go over your head but this has been great the way they break it down and explain it to us," said Darius Zarembka.

While not a summer camp spent outdoors, this camp is exposing students to the possibility of a future in computer science and engineering.

"I like learning about technology and new technology today is taking off I would like to do that kind of thing as a career," said Kaden Adam.