Course Accessibility at Code First Girls

Here at CFG, we always want to provide the necessary tools to help you with your learning experience. We are committed to transforming the way students are taught coding and enhancing accessibility for our students with diverse needs. 

This article will explain ways in which we can assist students on our courses as well as tools you can use to better your learning experience with us! You are also more than welcome to reach out to us if you have a request or an idea in how we can best support you on your tech journey.

How we help with courses
Accessibility Software

How we help with courses


Our MOOCs are accessible in several ways and are probably best for those whose schedules aren't so flexible and who would like to learn in their own time. 

All of our MOOCs are recorded on YouTube, and accessible for rewatching: 

  • MOOC sprints are accessible online for 3 months in total (from the start of the sprint to the end of the on-demand timeframe) so participants can re-watch content at their own pace.
  • YouTube allows subtitles/closed captions and the option to slow down the pace of the video.

On top of this students receive technical and CFG support on Slack, outside of our live sessions to better help with any questions or troubleshooting issues you may have. 

We will also be sharing all materials (slide decks, code snippets etc.) with our students, so they can refer to content at any point.

Kickstarter Classes 

Our Kickstarter classes are accessible to our community too. We encourage the use of Google Meet due to the possibility of using closed captions and translation services. We recommend that you always ask your instructor if they can use a platform with accessible delivery. 

The Kickstarter classes are hosted virtually and in the evenings to ensure they are accessible around study/work commitments and don’t require any costs to travel. Students in our Kickstarter classes will be offered technical and CFG support, outside of live sessions just like those on the MOOCs and CFGdegree & +Masters. Lastly, we will share all the materials for classes with students so they can refer to the content again. 

CFGdegree & +Masters

We don't just offer help with our Kickstarter classes and MOOCs but we also offer assistance on our CFGdegree & +Masters courses. Here's a breakdown of how we aim to provide support to individuals with diverse needs.

  • Access to TextHelp: 
    TextHelp is a powerful resource that offers an array of tools aimed at enhancing accessibility for learners. Although currently available exclusively to CFGdegree and +Masters students, TextHelp will play a pivotal role in ensuring content accessibility. Its diverse set of features includes text-to-speech capabilities, customisable fonts, and more, catering to a variety of learning preferences and needs.
  • Time Extension for Assessments (with proof of diagnosis or supporting evidence):
    Understanding the unique challenges faced by individuals with accessibility issues, we recognise that some students may need extra time to complete assessments. Students who present proof of diagnosis or supporting evidence are eligible for a 25% time extension when completing assessments.
  • Request Extensions on Homework/Assignments (CFGdegree / +Masters):
    We acknowledge that unforeseen circumstances may impact a student's ability to meet assignment deadlines. If our CFGdegree team, who are dedicated to answering your queries whilst on the course, are informed beforehand by any students enrolled in the CFGdegree and +Masters course there will be a chance to offer an extension on assignments.
  • Customised Colour Scheme for Tailored Visual Experience:
    Visual accessibility is paramount, and we go the extra mile to cater to individual requests and needs. In the past, we have demonstrated our commitment to inclusivity by adapting content to specific colour schemes. This approach ensures that learners with diverse visual needs can engage with the material comfortably.
  • 1-1 Check-In Calls (CFGdegree / +Masters at this stage):
    Recognising the value of personalised support, students enrolled in the CFGdegree and +Masters have the opportunity to engage in 1-1 check-in calls. These calls provide a dedicated platform for students to address their concerns, seek clarification, and receive guidance directly. 
  • Early Access to Weekly Content (CFGdegree / +Masters):
    To further facilitate effective learning, students enrolled in CFGdegree and +Masters  gain early access to weekly course content. This advanced access provides learners with additional time to engage with the material, review concepts, and prepare for upcoming assignments. By extending this privilege, we aim to create an inclusive learning environment that values every student's journey.

Accessibility Software

We're thrilled to share some fantastic tools and extensions that can make coding and dictation a breeze for students with accessibility needs. Not only can these tools assist those who struggle with coding, but they can also be a big help for anyone finding our sessions a bit challenging. The best part? These tools are absolutely free and open-source for all Mac, Windows, and Linux users!

Serenade - Voice Control

Serenade is perhaps the most straightforward tool to enable voice-based programming. It works with IDEs like VCS and PyCharm, which are the main coding platforms we use here at Code First Girls. To download, serenade, use this link and then specify which type of machine you’re using (Mac, Windows or Linux). Further Getting Started guides can be found here

Once you’ve installed Serenade, it will walk you through how to install plug-ins for the IDEs we’ll be using. It will then guide you through interactive tutorials on how to use voice coding. Serenade works by floating above all your other windows, and you can switch between listening and not listening by pressing the Alt and Space keys together. 

You’ll see that as you speak, it creates a list of transcripts in the window. If it’s not 100% sure about what you’ve said, it will give you different options to choose from. The first one will be used automatically, but to use a different one, just say the number you want to use. For example, to use the third option, just say “3” and it will undo the first one and use that instead. It also has built-in options like ‘add’ and ‘undo’. 

We would recommend Serenade as it uses natural language - you don’t have to learn any strange new commands to get it to work, which should help considering you’ll already be learning new programming languages! 

You can find the Serenade Plugin in the extension section of both VCS and PyCharm IDEs. Once both the software and the plugins are installed, the students can begin to use it. This walkthrough also includes every stage of the installation process. 

For more information about how to use serenade and the commands available, be sure to check out the documentation and various YouTube videos.

Talon - Voice Control, Eye Tracking

Talon provides hands-free input for students, enabling voice control, noise control, eye tracking and Python scripts to customise the workflow. However, it takes longer to get to grips with and set-up isn’t as straightforward. 

The Talon installation guidelines can be found here. Below is a copy of the main steps to download and install Talon on your machine. 

Getting started with Talon:

  1. Download and install Talon for your operating system.
  2. Run the Talon app.
  3. Open the Talon Home directory. This is %APPDATA%\Talon on Windows, and ~/.talon on macOS/Linux. (Talon has a menu in your system tray near the clock, you can use Scripting -> Open ~/.talon as a shortcut open Talon Home).
  4. Add some scripts to ~/.talon/user to add voice commands and other behaviour to Talon (see the Getting Scripts section below). Your user scripts control all of the voice commands in Talon, so Talon won’t recognize any commands until you add some scripts.
  5. Install Conformer using Talon’s Speech Recognition menu.

To help you further we have a video to show you how to download the software, along with some introductory examples. Once it’s installed, you need to enable it by downloading the basic keys script from the Talon website. Talon recommends cloning this repository into your own user directory to get started quickly. Here are some additional example scripts provided to users, which include noise control, eye control and speech control. Once you open the basic keys file and give access to your microphone, you will be able to use talon voice commands which you can test in the document itself. 

All Talon demos can be found here. Students are encouraged to practise using this software before the course begins so that they are familiar with it when lessons start. Here is a link to the Talon slack channel for help with any further issues students might encounter. The #help channel would be the perfect place to ask about unique commands or how to work with specific accessibility requirements - i.e. eye tracking, noise control etc. 

Also, Tara Roy's YouTube channel is a great place for getting started with Talon. She offers tutorials for downloading and installing the software on Windows, Mac and Linux machines. There are also practice games to get used to dictating and correcting mistakes while coding with voice commands. 

Talon is intended to offer voice control across the whole of your computer, not just a coding IDE such as VCS. As such, if you already have a preferred dictation software in use, that could also work when dictating your code throughout the course 🗣️

Prettier  - Automatic code formatter

This is an automatic code formatter, which is available as a plugin which you can install from within your IDE. Once installed and working, Prettier will automatically format code for you. This is useful as certain languages have strict formatting rules which would otherwise make it difficult to maintain functional code without typing. Please find further information about Prettier here

If you have any questions or feedback regarding accessibility please contact us at before your course starts so we can get you as much help as possible before you start!  💁🏾 

Still need help? Ask us!