Accessible Coding: A Reflection From a Non-Techie

code visible on a computer screen through eyeglasses

I want to preface my reflection by saying I was not proficient or interested in computer programming before attending the 2023 National Coding Symposium. As an APH ConnectCenter intern, I aimed to attend and write a blog about my experience. 

So, here are my thoughts from a non-STEM perspective.  

Unfortunately, I could not attend the opening day, but I was present for days two and three of the 2023 National Coding Symposium. I joined the webinar thinking nothing would make sense to me. I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong by every single speaker. Everyone succinctly explained their perspectives and methods for success in coding. 

Our Abilities 

I’m grateful to Chancey Fleet (first Keynote speaker for day two) for reminding us that our inability to accomplish something isn’t a true inability but a mismatch between our abilities and how things are made. With this in mind, I could put aside my misconceptions and keep a more open mind for the remainder of the symposium. 


I learned so many cool things about coding. For example, I learned how people can code graphics with text, differences in text versus block coding, perspectives on what makes the field so challenging, and awesome resources for getting started in the field. 

Day two was full of wonderful speakers like Lisa McKeown, Lucia Greco, and Kiran Kaja, who shared stories about how they got started with coding. It was really interesting that for many of them, going into technology was not their original field, yet their passion for technology was always present. Day three was just as enjoyable as the previous session. I had no idea there were accessible code editors or compatibility with braille displays. Professor Stefik’s demonstration of Chorum (evidence based language) and Peter Tusik’s tutorial for integrating code with the braille note touch were particularly fascinating. I understood the concepts they spoke about, but they made much more sense after I observed them in action. 

The Usefulness of Coding 

There were plenty more speakers I didn’t cover who gave incredibly insightful advice and resources. As a non-STEM person, my main takeaway was a holistic overview of coding. I had no idea how useful coding could be in everyday life or how crucial basic knowledge of something as simple as HTML could be for solving problems or completing tasks. I was thrilled to learn that there were solutions for creating your own tactile graphics. While it may not be my field of interest, I walked away with abundant practical knowledge and a greater appreciation for coding and its uses in our daily lives. 

I hope anyone who plans to dive into coding doesn’t let their disability deter them. It’s a challenging field to navigate, but its complexities are stripped once you start learning and exploring tools that minimize those obstacles. If there isn’t a solution to something you’re struggling with, accessible coding can help you create one. 

Watch the 2023 APH Coding Symposium 

You can watch the 2023 National Coding Symposium 3.0 here.