Lessons Learned from a Budding Web Developer with an Intellectual Disability

Jeremiah has been teaching himself how to develop Web sites.  We were introduced because of this interest, and because Jeremiah is a person with an intellectual disability.

When I told Jeremiah of my plan to provide video-based tutorials on the future Clear Helper Web site, he immediately became excited.  He is especially interested in Web-based video as a medium for opening the public’s hearts and minds to the song and dance of his home country.

I am intrigued by the possibility that people with intellectual disabilities could actually develop their own Web sites. To my shame, this had not occurred to me before I met Jeremiah.  I will have to rethink the roles people with intellectual disabilities could play in the development of the future Clear Helper Web site.

Jeremiah showed me a HTML tutorial he found on the Web.  He had made it his home page.  It consisted of text-based lessons on how to code a Web page by hand.  In a quick search, all HTML tutorials I found focused on coding.  I explained that learning how to create Web pages might be better with a graphical HTML editor.  He could use its visual interface to include- and to place elements, and then examine how it wrote the associated HTML code.

It has been many years since I have seen a graphical HTML editor on the order of Dream Weaver or Front Page.  I no longer know what popular software people use who don’t code Web sites.  I assume many use Web-based content management systems.  Before my visit with Jeremiah, I did find a free Web-page creator with a graphical editor.

I learned during our visit that not only had Jeremiah already tried Kompozer, but he had downloaded it for installation on his recently-donated computer.  The savvy it took to find Kompozer and try it on his own indicated his capabilities to me.  It reminded me that people with intellectual disabilities are often quite adept in perhaps unexpected areas.

Trying Kompozer together showed it does have a graphical- and a code editor, but learning to use it was not immediately intuitive for Jeremiah.  I could not find a picture- and text based, step-by-step tutorial for using Kompozer’s graphical editor.  Likewise, I struck out trying to find on YouTube an appropriate, similar tutorial.

This reaffirmed for me one of the reasons I started this project; step-by-step tutorials just are not available on the Web for people with intellectual disabilities.  That’s a shame, because they would benefit many people.

If anyone knows of one, or knows of an alternative HTML editor Jeremiah could try, please contact me or post a comment.  Right now, Jeremiah must use free software. Yet with his newly-acquired, full-time job, he may soon be able to afford a commercial alternative.

I did explain to Jeremiah that his video files should be converted to Flash, and found a free converter for him.  I briefly showed him how to use it.  I promised to send him step-by-step instructions on its use, and then on how to embed a Flash file in a Web page.  While writing the instructions later, I was reminded how difficult it is to break down simple tasks, let alone the complicated ones I was trying to teach Jeremiah. Designing such content will be much more work than developing a Web site to deliver it.

As I have described, I learned important lessons in my brief time with Jeremiah.  I anticipate they will serve me well as I move forward with the Clear Helper project.  For this, I thank Jeremiah.

Note: No endorsement of Kompozer is expressed or implied.

3 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from a Budding Web Developer with an Intellectual Disability

  1. I found this so inspiring… I am sure Jeremiah will do a awesome work!! 🙂

    I was thinking … what if we ask Adobe or Microsoft for a free license for Jeremiah? We can try at least! Don’t you think so? (I could try to contact them if you want, I will just use their contact forms, telling them about this post and blog).

    PS: So proud of you for helping Jeremiah!

    1. Thank you for the support! It is generous of you to offer to apply for a free license. Please do. I may be able to supply additional information if needed.

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