My story, learning to code with my disability

Hi,

My name is Rosita, I am 36 years old and living in the Netherlands.

About 4 years ago I started a blog about living with cerbral palsy, because I just quited my bachelor study social work and I didn’t know what to do next. I was getting treatment in a rehabilitation center because of cerebral palsy. I found out I coudn’t become a social worker anymore. But I liked blogging and I learned to type blind with just my left hand.
(I am able to walk, I am spastic on my right arm and leg and I have some issues with planning, organizing and keeping an overview over things)

Trough blogging I discoverd I liked the technical stuff behind my selfhosted WordPress website and in November 2017 I became a free member at Codecademy and started to learn the basics of HTML and CSS and I also tried Javascript. Javascript was hard, so I gave up and I wasn’t motivated anymore. I still wanted to learn how to build websites.

In March this year I got a chance to visit a company who builds WordPress websites Now I decided I wanted to become a webdeveloper and I became a promember at Codecademy. As from March 13th this year I have been coding everyday. I finished:

Welcome To Codecademy,
Learn CSS,
Learn Responsive Design,
Learn HTML,
Learn Color Design,
Learn Navigation Design,
Learn How To Code,
Build a Website with HTML, CSS and Github Pages,
Code Foundations

Now I am doing the Webdevelopment Career Path and again I am learning Javascript.

I am starting to understand it better now, but it’s still very hard. I can do the lessons and the quizes, but Applying is, is so hard. How to learn to apply? Anyway I will get there and I hope to get a job in (web)development.

8 Likes

Hi Rosita,

Thank you so much for sharing your story! Applying computer science knowledge is always hard at first but once you start doing it more often, you’ll become more comfortable with it’s difficulty!

I like the following ideas when trying to apply my textbook-learned skills:

  1. Try emulating a simple project (like if you see a website that does something you think you can do, try seeing if you can copy that exact effect). Getting exactly right is not the point, the key is the mental journey to problem-solve how to do it. You benefit from the success and the difficulty of this.

  2. Test and explore boundaries: this is the opposite of #1, so basically I’ll follow documentation (https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/CSS) and I will try all the little effects and see how far they go (even if it looks ugly). While it might not be applicable at first, it can plant seeds for future usage of certain features.

  3. Write pseudo-code. This is a very powerful one. Write code in plain language with barely any mark-up. Try to make a project or page like this on plain paper. The beauty of this is it has many benefits:

  • giving yourself an organized layout of what your code might look like
  • highlighting certain concepts you need that you haven’t learned so far (which means you can research how to do these)
  • it’s a great tool you’ll need when working in teams since in the initial stages it’s important to prototype ideas.

And stay positive! Every little step adds up and adds to your arsenal of skills (especially the mistakes). As much as I might dread a bug in my code, I always see it as an opportunity to gain a better understanding not only of the code itself, but my learning process. Over time this creates more enjoyable and rewarding learning experiences.

4 Likes

Thanks! I am going to try it out! I feel like I am in a rut. But I have some ideas.

Hi Rosita,

You’re actually in a very unique position to help out a lot of people around the world. People who have disabilities similar to yours usually have a hard time accessing resources online, specifically because most companies do not support the WCAG standard. This standard is what allows screen readers and similar tools to identify elements in a website, so a user like yourself can interact with them. The best thing you can do for your future career as a web developer is to apply the standard to any website you build. Companies are starting to pay attention to this, some countries are even discussing laws to make it a requirement. If you can master that skill, it’ll make you stand out when looking for a job or branching out on your own.

Here is a link to find out more about the standard: https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/

Here is a link to find out more about a tool that helps you validate the standard being applied to a website: https://pa11y.org/

2 Likes

Thank you. That means a lot to me. I already try to use those standerds, like always using alt tags, using contrast checker, large fonts.

1 Like

That’s awesome, but know there is a lot more to it. I will be required to test those features on the app my team is building, the research I’ve done so far for what I need to do in order to validate the functionality is overwhelming. It can be very complex depending on what the app is required to support. If you do this right, it can also give you project management skills that can land you a lead position in a team.