Northglenn High School student John Hiatt won the 2017 Congressional App Challenge for Colorado’s 7th Congressional District with a program he wrote to help visually impaired users access a popular, low-cost computer platform, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter announced.
Students in 190 congressional district in 42 states demonstrated their coding skills with more than 1,250 apps submitted to the competition this year, organizers said. Participation in the third annual challenge, sponsored by the Congressional Internet Caucus, was up sharply from last year, with more than 4,100 students taking part.
Hiatt said he was inspired to create his screen reader app, called Audial Desktop, to help another member of Northglenn’s coding club have the same access to computers as others do. The app works on the popular Raspberry Pi computer science and hobbyist platform, as Hiatt and his fellow coding club member demonstrate in this video (see below).
“This is like the first accessible thing for a Raspberry Pi,” Hiatt’s friend says. “This is the first way that a blind person can use a Raspberry Pi, and it’s very functional and very useful.”
The inexpensive, self-contained microcomputer, built by the United Kingdom’s Raspberry Pi Foundation, is one of the best-selling computers of all time. It retails for about $35.
As the congressional district winner, Hiatt will have the chance to attend a reception and demonstrate his app to lawmakers and members of the tech community in Washington, D.C., in April. It will also be on display at the U.S. Capitol and on the House of Representatives website for the next year. The winning students also receive $250 in Amazon Web Service credits, donated by the online retailer.
Erie High School students Evan Hassman and Hunter Burley won the Congressional App Challenge for U.S. Rep. Ken Buck’s 4th Congressional District with “In Space, Out of Gas,” a role-playing game set in outer space.