Peter Lundblad, by all conventional definitions, would be considered a programming guru. He is a leading contributor to Subversion, an open sourced code management project – a widely used system. For his talents, Peter is also employed by Google (Google Code implements Subversion to host open source projects). Though what makes his story inspirational, is the fact that Peter is blind.
Information Week has published a short interview with Peter Lundblad. The interesting bit was an explanation of how he does it.
“I was trained as a finger typist. I know from the feel of the keys if I’ve made a mistake typing. When looking at code, I prefer Braille.” Lundblad uses a device that presents each line of code on the screen in Braille for him to read by touch.
While skimming through code is severely slowed down, as the field of vision is narrowed to a single line, it is still clear that with enough practise even visually challenged persons can master the art of computer programming. At first this all seems a little bit mind boggling, though then the blindfold chess would make an excellent analogy, and the latter has been around for a long time.
Sometimes computer science students would just stare at their code, wondering as to why something doesn’t work. This story brings up the point that one should think, I mean close your eyes and really think as to what’s going on. Programming is about logic – start running that logic through your head.
Of course the other inspirational bit is that even physical limitations don’t have to hinder your pursuit for something you really enjoy doing.