We Are Developers is the world’s largest conference for software development. It’s a great opportunity for software engineers to connect with tech companies and learn about interesting advances in technology. This year, it was supposed to take place in Berlin, but due to COVID-19, it was moved online for a Live Week (25-29 May) of exciting talks on different tech topics.

On the first day, I tuned in to watch Christoph Pirringer’s talk on Diversity in Development: Which hurdles can we overcome right now to open up development?

Christoph Pirringer is the founder and CEO of CodeFactory, a Vienna-based coding school targeted at newbies and career-changers. What makes it stand out from other bootcamps is the “Diversity in Development” project, which aims to raise awareness about people with hearing impairments in IT and help them and companies integrate better in the tech workforce.

It’s a valuable project, since there are 23 million deaf and hearing-impaired people in the EU, 10.000 of which in Austria. Even though in theory they have open access to work and education, in practice there are not enough measures taken to adapt to their needs and most companies don’t know how to deal with it. As a consequence, deaf people are basically excluded from these opportunities.

The talk addressed some common challenges of working with people with hearing impairments. The main one is, obviously, communication – this has to be based on written language, which can work just fine through emails and chats, but it gets tricky in meetings. A solution is having an interpreter on-site to translate into sign language. This has proven to be efficient in Pirringer’s experience, so that CodeFactory went on to offer workshops for companies on sign language and how to include people with hearing impairments in their teams.

I was impressed by this approach and wish more companies would take measures to accommodate people with different abilities!