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The 3rd Annual DIAGRAM Code Sprint

2018 August 31
by Amaya Webster

A photograph of four code sprint participants brainstorming.On June 9-10, Benetech’s DIAGRAM Center hosted its third annual code sprint, co-sponsored by Microsoft at its conference center in Sunnyvale, California. Not only did the Silicon Valley high tech community show up to this event in their own backyard, but developers, designers, subject matter experts, and end users from as far as Michigan, Toronto, and even the UK attended. In the end, sixty participants spent an inspiring and productive weekend generating new ideas and laying down code to make education more accessible for students with disabilities and learning differences.

With over a dozen projects to work on, there were plenty of choices and the enthusiasm was palpable. Many of the developers, designers, teachers and end users moved between projectsA photograph of Darren Guinness, Michael Kautzmann and Andrew Ringler smiling for the camera during the code sprint. offering their domain expertise, coding skills, and input to ensure that everything was fully accessible.

While day one was focused mostly on brainstorming and laying down the initial code, we were also treated to demos of external projects. Guy Barker gave a demo of an accessible Solitaire app. Alan Harnum demonstrated a personalization tool that uses a decoder ring and allows users to adjust the page view to their desired preferences. Phil Weaver demonstrated a simple app using large fonts and color to help young readers remember the shape of a letter.

An inspiring first day left participants raring to go on day two. Jennifer Larson Simmons, co-founder of My City School in San Francisco, which is dedicated to teaching students with learning differences declared:

“It was an amazing opportunity to be able to share ideas that could further support all learners. I wish more organizations would take action like this!” –Jennifer Larson Simmons

Day two was all about coding, coding and more coding as the project teams were on a mission to get their code working in time for the closing demos. The room was a symphony of keyboards A zoomed out photograph showing one of the rooms of the code sprint with participants all hard at work.clicking as the deadline approached. When time was finally called, we were thrilled to have sixteen projects ready for demos. Some had fleshed out designs and storyboards that could be built at a later date, others made significant progress on integrating software packages, and a few were able to complete end-to-end code ready for user testing.


Neil Soiffer, an accessible math expert formerly with Design Science, said “It was amazing to have so many great people together in one room. Everyone felt the energy. Lots of great projects were worked on, some to the point of almost being complete in just one weekend!”

And Neil wasn’t alone; we were also in awe of the incredible work that was done.

In the past, projects from DIAGRAM code sprints have grown into Math Support Finder, MathML Cloud, and more. We’ll be looking for projects from this sprint that have high potential to make more accessible educational materials available to students and look for opportunities for the community to help advance them. We’ll keep everyone posted on the evolution of these projects over time.

A photograph of Austin Wood, Beth Powell, Pranathi Mylavarapu and Irfan Ali goofing off for the camera during the code sprint. They are all smiling and waving.All in all, it was a terrific event and we feel honored and inspired by the people who joined. We are truly grateful for the support and enthusiasm our community contributes and want to acknowledge everyone who participated. We extend a heartfelt thank you to: Alan Harnum, Amanda Lannan, Ana Cristina Mendonsa-Garaventa, Andrew Ringler, Ann Gulley, Arno Gourdol, Austin Wood, Bella Simmons, Beth Powell, Bruce Walker, Bryan Garaventa, Clayton Lewis, Dae Hyun Kim, Darren Guinness, Deanna McCusker, Derek Riemer, Doug Schepers, Enamul Hoque Prince, Evan Yamanishi, Guy Barker, Irfan Ali, Jennifer Larson Simmons, Jesse Beach, Jingyi Li, Joe Polizzotto, Kartik Sawhney, Kelly Davis, Kesavan Kushalnagar, Kevin Yang, Mateus Teixeira, Michael Kauzmann, Michaela DeSapio-Yazar, Miguel Juarez, Mitchell Evan, Neil Soiffer, Phil Weaver, Pranathi Mylavarapu, Rebecca Luttmer, Ron Ellis, Rory Soiffer, Sean Hastings, Shane Lian, Sharmila Roy, Ph.D., Shri Lakshmanan, Sina Bahram, Sujeeth Thirumalai, Thaddeus Cambron, Tommy McMillen, Travis Snyder, Trenton Lawton, Volker Sorge, and Wayne Dick.

We’ll make a 2019 code sprint announcement in the coming months and hope even more of you will join us next year!

A photograph of Alan Harnum and Wayne Dick smiling and giving thumbs up.

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