November 20th, 2019
Joe Birch, a developer based in the UK, has a genetic condition that causes low vision. He grew up playing music, but he knows it’s not easy for people who have visual impairments or hearing loss to learn how to play.
He wanted to change that, so he created Chord Assist, which aims to make learning the guitar more accessible for people who are blind, deaf and mute. It gives instructions on how to play the guitar through braille, a speaker or visuals on a screen, allowing people to have a conversation to learn to play a certain chord.
“Chord Assist” is powered by Actions on Google, a platform that allows developers to create additional commands for unique applications. The guitar is used as a conversational tool to allow the student to learn a chord by simply saying, “Show me how to play a G chord,” for example. The guitar understands the request and then gives either voice output or braille output, depending on the need.
“I love seeing people pushing the boundaries and breaking the expectations of others,” Joe says. “When someone builds an innovative project that can change the lives of others, it inspires me to achieve the things that I am passionate about. That’s what this whole developer community is really all about, we are here to inspire each other.”
With the emergence of new technology and easy-to-access educational resources, it’s easier than ever to become a developer. The developer community is global and is made up of people from all walks of life and backgrounds, with one thing in common—using technology to take an idea and turn it into reality.
That is what the Google Developers Experts program aims to do by connecting 700 outstanding developers around the world. They gather to share the skills they’ve mastered through application development, podcasts, public speaking and bringing technology to local communities. Each Google Developer Expert has experience and expertise in one or more specific Google technologies.
Joe is a GDE focused on Actions on Google and Android and has been an engineer for seven years. “Being a GDE allows me to fulfill my passion for both technology and education,” Joe says. “I learned so much by following designers and developers online. Seeing the cool work that these people are doing helps to fuel my brain and inspire me for the next idea that I might have.”