Having a learning disability doesn’t preclude you from learning how to code or launching your tech career. And considering that 1 in 5 people have learning or attention issues, it’s prudent for bootcamps to support all types of learners. Plus, the more neurodiverse folks work in tech, the more likely the principles of web and design accessibility will spread across tech – and that benefits everyone. In this guide, we break down tech tools that make it easier to learn with disabilities, how neurodiversity creates stronger teams, and how to choose a coding bootcamp that provides support for special needs.
There are many ways in which people have difficulties with learning. Some of the most common learning disabilities include: dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorder (ADP), language processing disorder (LPD), nonverbal learning disabilities (NVLD), and visual perceptual disabilities.
There are specific tech tools available that support individuals with disabilities and neurodiversity, including students with learning disabilities. Instructors and aides can consider utilizing accessibility tools to ease the process of learning how to code at a coding bootcamp as a beginner with a learning disability.
3 Types of Accessibility Tech Tools
Here are a few examples of accessibility tech tools and processes that can be used to adapt to your needs:
There are so many coding bootcamps and it can feel difficult to know how to choose the right coding bootcamp for you. Here are 5 tips on how to learn how to code for beginners with learning disabilities:
1. Take into consideration how much you already know about coding. If you are a complete beginner, it might be helpful to learn some coding basics before enrolling in a coding bootcamp. Plus, there are tons of free coding resources for beginners! Having the basics down can ease the learning curve when improving oneself in an accelerated learning program such as a coding bootcamp.
If these three languages appeal to you, a coding bootcamp is a great place to dive deep into their foundations!
2. Determine your specific learning needs and what resources are available to support you.
3. Consider what bootcamp format that will work best for you: part-time, full-time, self-paced, in-person, online? Amanda, an Academic Accommodations and Accessibility Specialist at Lighthouse Labs, points out, “Our bootcamps can be an excellent option for people who may otherwise struggle in a traditional classroom setting. A remote learning experience allows students to control their environment and work from a comfortable space, which is an essential foundation for effective learning. Students also have autonomy over scheduling breaks between assignments which is helpful for those who hyperfocus and those who like to break up work sessions into shorter time segments.”
4. Enroll in a coding bootcamp that will work with you to support your success. When talking to admissions reps from different coding bootcamps, ask about the resources and accommodations they offer and/or are willing to make.
5. Look for scholarships and vocational rehabilitation agencies, such as this program offered through Tech Elevator, that support individuals with disabilities to meet their employment needs, including training as continuing education.
The Web is accessible when browsers, authorizing tools, and websites work together. Amanda from Lighthouse Labs says, “People with disabilities are underrepresented within the tech industry, and yet we know that organizations are stronger when they employ people from diverse backgrounds, with varied experiences. Supporting students with diverse learning needs in getting into the tech sector can spark new innovations and create opportunities for people in a sector that is well-positioned to address accessibility challenges through the vast number of tools available.”
Web accessibility also offers its own career path. After graduating from LearningFuze, Alicia went on to work as a Web Accessibility Engineer. Practicum graduate Desiree is new to her tech career but already learning web accessibility skills to add to her toolbox.
Alicia chronicles her journey into this field, “Web accessibility has been around for more than 20 years, but people are now starting to prioritize its importance. Working in this field today promises job security and the ability to negotiate offers, since the demand has increased but the amount of accessibility professionals hasn't. Once you get your foot in the door, the world is open to you. When I decided to look for another job, I applied for two to see what it was like out there, and I got immediate callbacks. As an Accessibility Engineer, I'm earning three times the salary that I made before I was a software developer!”
Here’s a roundup of organizations dedicated to offering support to individuals with learning disabilities in the tech space:
Have you attended a bootcamp as a neurodiverse learner? Share your tips in the comments below!
Nat has been a writer and copyeditor for Course Report since 2020, on topics including guides to bootcamps, tech skills, and career outcomes. Nat leverages their own experience in online learning to relate to readers considering alternative learning paths.
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