How does a blind computer programmer do programming?

Answer by Tony Li:

I worked with a blind programmer who wrote the Frame Relay code for cisco’s IOS (Cisco’s Internet Operating System for its routers, switches, etc.; wholly different from Apple’s iOS)  operating system in the 90’s. He had a normal keyboard as part of a Braille terminal. That terminal had an RS-232 connection and a 80×24 buffer so that he could scroll through a full ‘screen’ of text.  It featured local vertical scrolling, presenting one line of Braille at a time, so it was very straightforward for him to use.

When one of us Braille handicapped people wanted to see what he was doing, there was also an attached video monitor (left off most of the time) so that we could even collaborate.

He was a pretty good developer and got his job done, despite the fact that he was forced to be less efficient, favoring old school line editors. His memory was amazing, and did things in ways that are wholly unfamiliar to folks from the GUI era. About the only thing that didn’t quite work out was pretty printing.  Apparently, getting the whitespace exactly right wasn’t easy. Small beans.

I was always very impressed by his work.

How does a blind computer programmer do programming?


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