014: Deaf Kids Code with Shireen Hafeez

In episode 14, we talk to Shireen Hafeez, founder of Deaf Kids Code, about her project to get deaf kids making websites for local businesses using WordPress. Her initiative started with the Philadelphia School for the Deaf, with the goal of spreading across deaf schools across the country. This program aims to enable hard of hearing students to leave high school with real world skills that will empower them to build a prosperous career.

About Shireen: After the diagnosis of my son, I have been fully immersed into advocacy and activism for babies and kids who are Deaf/ hard of hearing. My entire life’s sense of purpose going forward has been focused on the betterment of this population. Though I still wear my advocacy hat, I started my own social initiative called Deaf Kids Code. It is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization which was created out of my fundamental belief that the digital age is the great equalizer. I believe that with the ever increasing tech skills gap and the global nature of honing such skills, the time has come to change the equation. With rapidly changing work environments, the increase in digital communication, as well as, remote working styles the barriers that existed before are fast dissolving. It also gives rise to support the claim that by supporting this pipeline, they will have greater social and economic participation than ever before. We are striving towards cultivating the next generation of tech leadership through this untapped talent pool. Society, industries, the economy, and those who are Deaf/ hard of hearing are all winners in the end. The even playing field has finally arrived and will make a dent in their astronomical unemployment rate too. Breaking the cycle from school to couch by inspiring skills that the world needs.

Find Shireen: Deaf kids Code | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn

Shireen Hafeez
Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
014: Deaf Kids Code with Shireen Hafeez

Show Notes

People, places, and things mentioned in today’s episode:

  • Deaf Kids Code – Shireen’s nonprofit that promotes technology, computer science, and design thinking skills as an innovative tool to empower deaf/ hard of hearing students socially and economically.
  • Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Philadelphia – Where Shireen came up for her idea for Deaf Kids Code.
  • Andy Stitt – Marketing consultant specializing in WordPress. He helped Shireen get this pilot program up and running.
  • Matt Ryan – WordPress developer who resides in Philadelphia – MattRyan.co. Matt also helped get this pilot program up and running.
  • Genesis – WordPress theme framework
  • Beaver BuilderRobby McCullough generously donated a like unlimited number of licenses for the kids to use in building their websites.

Get involved with Deaf Kids Code!!!! https://www.deafkidscode.org/get-involved

So many great quotes this episode. Here are a few:

I’ve used WordPress as a catalyst towards being an equalizer and how this is about inclusion and participation in society in the world and contributing.

When you are building or creating anything, accessibility should be at the center.

This would be nothing without the WordPress community. No Way. No Way.


Amy:                                           00:01                       Welcome to women in WP, a bimonthly podcast about women who blog design develop and more in the WordPress community. Welcome to episode 14 of Women in WP. I’m Amy Masson. I’m Tracy Apps. I’m Angela Bowman. And our guest today is Shireen Hafeez, founder of Deaf Kids Code, a nonprofit designed to promote technology, computer science and design thinking skills as a way to empower deaf and hard of hearing students. Welcome Shireen. Hello. Thanks for having me. We’re so happy to have you on. And, I will be clear to everybody, Shireen’s my friend in real life. So it is not just a virtual friend, but our first question for everybody is, what was your path to WordPress? And I know this is an interesting answer cause it’s different than a lot of the other guests we’ve had.

Shireen:                                   00:56                       Well, my path to WordPress. So I think it’s important to lay on the table that I’m not a technologist. I’m not a software developer. I’m not a website developer of any kind. So my journey has definitely been very organic. So I guess that I always had familiarity with WordPress technology? Like my daughter had a fashion blog and she created her website through WordPress technology and it was beautiful and you know, so I always had it kind of in my periphery and really admired how user friendly it was. And what I do is, you know, I, I travel around the country, I work with students who are deaf and hard of hearing, primarily middle schoolers and high schoolers and I promote design thinking skills, technology and computer science in a very meaningful like ecosystem. And it’s very centered around the spirit of innovation and being a creator.

Shireen:                                   02:15                       So I was doing programming at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf located in Philadelphia a couple of months ago. Okay. The educators, just like all educators around the country working with this population, very passionate, very well meaning very sincere. But even though they had incorporated some really interesting stem curriculum, they felt that the needle was not moving fast enough. Your by your, you know the, in terms of, you know, meaningful development of an ecosystem, it just wasn’t there. Okay. And on my last day of doing programming there, the transition coordinator sat with me and she was like, listen, we need to sit down, we need to talk because I don’t know when I’m gonna see you again. And I really want to talk about like, what more can we be doing for our children. Now to put it in context, it’s important to point out that like here, I’ll just even give you a snapshot for here in Indiana.

Shireen:                                   03:27                       So I was at a town hall meeting, which was about disabilities and employment. So the current unemployment status here in Indiana hovers around 3%. So it’s like off the chain, phenomenal. Less than 3% unemployment or people with disabilities. It hovers on the national average, which is about 70% severe underemployment, unemployment. So even though, you know the workforce development, a trajectory, you know, looks amazing nationally or even locally you know, our population is, is, is lacking in inclusion in every way, shape and form. Okay. So W as I was talking to the transition coordinator, I was like, okay, well, so tell me what’s going on with the kids right now. Like what’s, what’s the pathway for them now for the current, you know, outgoing seniors, where’s there future headed? And I was told that the majority of them are doing custodial work. They’re scrubbing toilets there, wiping down floors and cabinets and, and that’s as good as it gets.

Shireen:                                   04:48                       Yeah. Now you have to remember that for the last two days I had been working with, you know, they’re middle schoolers and high schoolers and you know, I saw magic unfold this set of high schoolers. They were creating these digital design logos, like as if they had done it 20 times before and they were incredible, absolutely phenomenal. And I literally pulled it out of my hat though, Amy. You know, I said, okay, here’s what we’re going to do because [inaudible] it’s one thing to know the statistics like I do. I’m fully aware of the disenfranchisement of our kids and this population, but when somebody tells you that you know, so-and-so and so and so, the kids that I just worked with that are bad ass graphic designers are going to be scrubbing toilets probably for the rest of their life and that’s as high of a bar as setting. It really bothered me tremendously. It really bothered the hell out of me and I said, and I literally just pulled it out of my hat and I said, Cindy, who is the transition coordinator there, the school, I said, this is what we’re going to do. I said, it’s going to require a lot of work and a lot of effort on your side. Well, what we’re going to do is our kids are going to build websites for local area, small businesses that can’t afford a website developer.

Shireen:                                   06:30                       Our kids are going to use WordPress software because again, my point of reference was my daughter that had built a website on her own using this zero barrier to access software and they’re going to present an unveil these websites to these businesses in a very public way. And she goes, oh well we can do it here in the school. I said, no, I don’t want anything happening in this school that, that involves the unveiling of these sites. I want it to be public. I want it to be loud because I want the message to be very clear to the Greater Philadelphia community that our kids are capable of doing much, much, much, much more then they’d been given credit for. So I came home and I was desperately searching for resources and how on earth does am I going to do this? And Amy I remembered of course was a WordPress developer.

Shireen:                                   07:40                       She, her whole business is based on this software. So I contacted Amy and I said, we have to schedule a call. I have to have a very important discussion with you and I really need your help. So Amy and I had a heart to heart conversation. And I said, you know, maybe it was a mistake on my part that I just jumped first and thought about it later. But to, in my mind and heart, the vision seems so clear. It seems so obvious. And I had already named this pilot program. It was called the DKC, you know, standing for Deaf Kids Code Developers Collective. And and Amy, you know, right away, I mean, just the planets were aligned, connected me to Andy who she’s collaborated with in multiple projects, who also is a master programmer and who also has his own personal story about language development, diagnosis, disabilities.

Shireen:                                   08:47                       And I don’t want to speak on behalf of him, but it’s a very harrowing story where he himself says, quote it was up to society. I would of been institutionalized, you know. And here he is also a WordPress developer doing incredible things. And he said that he was happy to help launch this and be part of this. And then he pulled in Matt Ryan, who happens, whose forte and mastery happens to be like WordPress education. Incredible. I mean, the planets couldn’t have been aligned more magically better. I mean, you could not have dreamt up the most incredible human beings and believers to be part of this tribe. Like, I mean, it just is unbelievable and you know and, and it’s just been incredible. And that’s been, I mean, none of this could have happened, quite frankly. None of it could have happened without having the WordPress community involved.

Shireen:                                   09:54                       There’s just no way, you know. But what’s happened is, is that through the course of these, so it’s important to say that the school has created this, built this in to like a semester long project. So that’s dynamite number one. Number two is they had a you know, a support staff in the school that was learning alongside the students. So that’s what’s also incredible because he is learning, which means that he can carry this on, you know, as the semesters progress, as other students come through the conveyor belt, he can also like lead this curriculum because he has the knowhow. Oh, we identified local, local, grassroots, you know, businesses. And actually Andy played a very pivotal role in that. And I remember the first day of launching this, the students got to interview one of the business owners and her store currently is on Etsy.

Shireen:                                   11:10                       And it was it was incredible. And and then they were doing in person meetings and further interviews, which also, you know, coming to play in terms of real world development skills, right? It’s like your, it’s not just about development by your all. So like understanding what that interaction is like. I mean, it’s a multi beneficiary process because number one, Andy and Matt had never been in the deaf community before. So that was a great learning experience for them that they can take back and evangelize to the rest of the WordPress community nationally and talk about what their experience was like. So that if other WordPress folks, you know, want to get in the arena with me and support, you know, a deaf community within their city or, or you know, wherever they live they would have first person experience that can vouch for that.

Shireen:                                   12:11                       Secondly you know, it’s also about, I mean we talk about diversity and inclusion all the time, but until you’re actually in it and you’re actually experiencing like what it’s like the communication barriers and those challenges, you know, you never really truly understand what those nuances are. And the beautiful thing about Matt and Andy is they’ve become very well acquainted with this student population. This like this cluster of students, right? So they know that, okay this is a single parent household. They don’t have transportation, they are low on the socioeconomic, they’re from a rough neighborhood. I mean, they know what all of the strikes these kids have against them and they are sticking to it because they see the magic. Like one of the, one of the processes in the design thinking exercise that they did was they had the kids sketch out on paper and you know, marker.

Shireen:                                   13:25                       Okay, what does the landing page look like? What is it going to look like? Where are the tabs? Where would the pictures be uploaded? Like, what does this look like? And Matt was telling me the other day that it was, it was incredibly, I mean, they use like incredibly advanced skills that even like adults with the higher level education couldn’t have done what they did. It was like, it was incredible. So it’s moments like that that further reinforce, you know, believers, you know, it, it’s a deeper incentive of why this matters and it should bother all of us tremendously. That this untapped talent pool is being left out of the opportunity gap. They’re just, they’re just, the opportunity gap exists because of society. Society creates the opportunity gap, right? So then isn’t it up to us to eradicate it and are we just going to sit on these policy panels and just chalk, Chit Chat all day about it without no skin in the game.

Shireen:                                   14:31                       And here you have like this, this initiative. I mean, everybody’s skin is in the game because everybody believes that these kids are worth it. And it’s, it’s incredible. And I can’t wait till, you know, the end of May when we do this on veiling and you know, so that’s the, that’s the human story. And it’s very nontechnical. And Berry, you know, I, I mean, but it’s, it’s the human side of like why, how I’ve used WordPress as a catalyst towards being, you know, an equalizer and how this is about inclusion and participation in society in the world and contributing to the, you know, the, the on tap talent pool has the ability to contribute and we should all be, we should all be bothered that they’re not.

Tracy:                                        15:26                       And now not only that, like you say, you’re not like technologists, but these, these are really big things. Like even big corporations are throwing millions of dollars at trying to trying to get this design thinking in their culture. And you’re right, there’s untapped, this whole demographic of people that just bring so much value into just all, all, all edges of this, of technology and such. And it is something that is really huge right now. Like just big thing to do that. And we bring up a really great point is that the whole like mission of WordPress is to democratize publishing. And so that whole thing, it just, so what you’re using WordPress for is exactly the intention. So the, you know, yeah. You might not, you know, build things are, you might not, you say you’re not a developer developer, right. But there’s, so if you think about an artist, well there’s someone that mates makes the paintbrush, but there’s the artist that uses the paintbrush to make something with it. So I see you as the artists using that and Kudos to you. This is really, it’s really great. I’m so glad you’re doing what you’re doing.

Shireen:                                   16:55                       Well, there’s no way I could have done any of this. Number one with eight without Amy and then number two without like other people in the tribe because, because what the hope is that this will be replicated in other schools and other systems. I actually have a meeting with a community college that has a, a deaf program in the Greater Chicago land area because they’re super, super keen. See, I’m in a position, where I can experiment, I can pivot, I can be flexible. I can try things out. I can give it a goal without a lot at stake because I’m not accountable to anybody. So that puts me in a position where I can be a renegade and I can do what I want because nobody else is doing things like this.

Shireen:                                   17:55                       You know? It’s like it’s, so obviously the flagship, you know, programming are, you know, the hands on immersive project based learning workshops that I do. But then layering it on to like, okay well what now? Okay. So you know, I mean I get emails from kids all the time, you know that my dream is to develop a website. My dream is to develop an app. It’s important to understand that the population that I work with, if you’re to look at the data, like if you were to look at like academic outcomes, no way, no dice, nobody would. They would say, this project makes no sense for this population. Keep ’em in doing manual labor, keep ’em in that. It keeps them in that position, you know? And if I bought into that, you know, there’s just no way. And you know, when I started my organization, I took myself off of every board, every institution, everything.

Shireen:                                   19:04                       And I went rogue with starting Deaf Kids Code because my philosophy is that we have nothing to lose. We have ads. And actually the first principal of my organization, the first principle of Deaf Kids Code, which means it’s the foundation of every thing that I breathe and do, is that the digital age is the great equalizer. So when you talk about democratization, that is exactly what I evangelize. Yeah. 100%. Yeah.

Angela:                                     19:33                       Because you know, the web is a visual medium. And so why, why would being deaf be a barrier when we’re working with a visual medium? And then these are vision people who’ve learned to be very visually astute. And creative skills and brilliant and probably things we don’t. Yeah. And I, I’ve been pleased. I went to WordCamp USA in Philadelphia and we had an after party and they actually had deaf interpreters at the after party to go around with the deaf people to help them to feel included in the social events and everything was captioned. Throughout WordCamp USA. So I hope your kids know that even as kids, sometimes kids come to word camps. Yes, yes, yes. I come to word camps. A lot of them, they’ll come with their parents, they’ll come with friends.

Shireen:                                   20:34                       Oh my gosh.

Angela:                                     20:34                       So just to let them know that they’re welcome to come to the word camp and I would reach out to the organizers and let them know. Most of them do have an interpreter and especially if you let them know they’re going to make it happen cause they have the support of the WordPress Foundation to do that.

Shireen:                                   20:52                       Wow. Yeah, totally. Then the, wouldn’t that be an interesting panel to host?

Amy:                                           20:59                       Definitely.

Shireen:                                   21:00                       The kids, you know, with like Andy and Ryan. Yeah. I mean imagine like how fascinating that would be. So the WordPress community as a whole, like, I mean, that would be like incredible. Yeah. Great suggestion. Great suggestion.

Amy:                                           21:21                       So many times you’ve referenced the WordPress community and that’s one of the reasons we do this podcast is because we are really proud of this community that has tried so hard to be inclusive. And one of the reasons when you came to me and said you had this project and I said, well, who do I know in Philadelphia? Well, the reason I know people in Philadelphia is through the WordPress community. So that’s how, you know, we’re, you were talking about Andy, Andy Stitt who is I met at WordCamp us the very first one at a Genesis meetup. And so, and that’s how I met Ryan as well. And so, and then it was funny because it was right after that I had, after you had connected with Andy, I was at WordCamp us in Nashville and I was at a volunteer event with Matt and I said, Hey, I’ve got this project. And he’s like, is that the same thing to Andy contacted me about?

Shireen:                                   22:09                       I love it, I love it.

Amy:                                           22:10                       And, and I know people all over the country, all over the world because of the WordPress community and how, how people just want to help everybody wants to help and be involved.

Shireen:                                   22:21                       Yeah. Well that is like, I mean I’m at a loss of words because really, I mean because if this pilot program is to be replicated in other cities, other schools around the country or even potentially around the world this, this can be a movement. You know, it’s like it’s a, it starts with one thing, right? And then it like, and when people see that, because I mean this does workforce development, you know, and this is a skill that actually takes a person’s dependency from the world and it gives them a skill that the world needs. It switches, it flips the equation. You know, where you can be self employed. You don’t have to be reliant on any agency or any goodwill, you know, you have true, truly needed skills that you know, that can benefit your local community. You know? And I think that is what makes the Deaf Kids Code Developers Collective project so powerful and so potent. Because even if, look, they have real world job experience coming out of this pilot program, right? They would have actually created something for a local area business. Then they would have come away with some knowledge and knowhow, two or three.

Shireen:                                   23:58                       Then they have something actually in their portfolio that is meaningful and substantial. So all of these layers, you know, are full of benefits.

Tracy:                                        24:11                       The business benefits. Too.

New Speaker:                      24:15                       The business has benefited number one. Absolutely. Absolutely. Right. And yes, I mean it’s, that’s the thing. It’s like there’s no losers. There’s nobody left behind. The grassroots local business has a beautiful dazzling website. Our kids have done something outside of the silos of, of you know, oh their school, they’ve actually had a meaningful contribution to a local area of business. I mean, it’s like a win, win, win, win, win.

Amy:                                           24:52                       I want to make a point, I noticed when, during the whole overview of what your project is doing is the businesses came in and the students had a chance to meet with them and ask questions. And there’s so much you hear about, you know, coding and being a good programmer. But there is so much to building a website for a client that’s not about code and knowing how to, you know, do discovery for a website and find out what the website actually needs. And I see that something that you guys are doing with this project and it’s so important and I think it’s so often overlooked when we’re focusing on, you know, programming skills.

Shireen:                                   25:26                       Yeah, yeah, indeed. I mean, programming doesn’t only mean Java, you know, I mean it’s like there’s this entire spectrum in the world of, you know, I mean basically it’s about how you hone technology skills as a vehicle towards self determination.

Tracy:                                        25:48                       And it’s also, it’s a problem solving. So like you need problem solving through everything and having that you know, the ability to not only problem-solve but then also communicate the answer that that’s that’s a big part of everything. Like that’s success in the world.

Angela:                                     26:10                       And your kid, your kids are really tuned into accessibility. What is accessibility? And so there’s accessibility for websites is a huge thing. And websites, you know, orgs and govs and edus, they are legally required. Any big public website is legally required to have accessibility, which it has to do with yeah, you know, it has to do with vision. It has to do with hearing, it has to do with so many layers. But also accessibility is about UI/UX design because it also just needs to be accessible to humans. You know, and your kids could also be trained to be like site auditors. They could be trained on how to do accessibility testing because they already know from their perspective what limitations are. But that could be a service they provide.

Tracy:                                        27:02                       And companies are like losing millions of dollars in lawsuits. There’s been, there was over 800 lawsuits I think 2017 and there’s like, no, that’s not stopping. Like there’s, it’s so much. But because these big companies, these big corporations, they have the money and they have the, they could do that. That would be, see, that’s like your, you’re saving. You could save a company millions of dollars by being that. When you’re that close to something. Yeah. You definitely don’t forget it, you know? Yeah. Yeah. Oh I forgot about the accessibility portion of things. No, like that doesn’t happen.

Shireen:                                   27:40                       You know, this, this kills me every time because, because it’s, it’s, it’s so logical that when you are building or creating anything, accessibility should be at the center. But unfortunately, unfortunately among engineers and computer scientists and things like that, they build out everything blindly. Then they think about, okay, how do we make this accessible? And I’m like, wow. Like you literally have to have a revolution to change the way this whole process even is conceived. That accessibility should be at the core. Like it should be synonymous to your ideation. Yeah.

Tracy:                                        28:33                       And as being in doing UX design that is a big focus of mine and the amount of people that confused UX user experience with UI for user interface, right. Cause they think, oh well, okay, we’ve got all the development done. And now let’s bring in the UX team. And then we get in there and we just blow it up because you’re like, what about this? What about that? What about that? We were like, Whoa, we didn’t think about all those things. Yeah. Cause this needed to start at day one before you [inaudible] one line of code. Yeah. This needs to be thought of.

Shireen:                                   29:12                       Yeah. Yeah. And then by that time it’s too far gone because you’ve spent, you know, 300 hours, you know, building this out. So it’s a lazy approach because it’s like, all right man, you know, what time is money. I’ve already blown six weeks building this out. There’s no way I am going to start over. So we just have to work with what we have. How do we make this accessible? And that’s, and that’s the mind site, you know, for most people and it really is like, it’s the wrong approach. It’s the wrong approach. I mean, and it it doesn’t benefit. It doesn’t maximize its potential benefit that way.

Amy:                                           29:58                       I’d love to ask this question about you. So, you know, Andy and Ryan went to the school and had been working with the students and I know, you know, neither of them are deaf. So what has been the process of training them to be able to work with the kids?

Shireen:                                   30:14                       Well, the Nice thing about it is that a couple of things, the first thing is that the classroom is, you know, within the school. So the universal design, you know, classroom accessibility is already there. So they didn’t have to worry about, okay, well how do we, how do we rearrange the class or things like that so that it is, you know, of highest visual and you know, other accessibility areas. They, the school provides the interpreter. So that is there. And you know, and they have been so great at visual tools.

Shireen:                                   31:03                       In fact, Matt was saying to me, he was saying that, you know, he’s like my gosh, I mean these kids are just soaking it up. Like, you know, some kids especially at that age group, I mean, they just kind of check out. These kids are all hands on deck. Like I think they understand the enormity and the meaning. I was like, this opportunity, I know that for the first day, which was the launch you know, one of the students raised his hand and said, how come the school couldn’t be like this? You know, like, I wish, like, like he’s so excited that he’s going to be building the website. He’s going to learn how to do it from scratch for a real local area of business. He’s just like, I wish that he could always be like this and you know, and Matt and Andy will say, I mean like on their first down, and they said, it’s, it’s extremely humbling.

Shireen:                                   32:06                       It’s extremely humbling for them. You know, it’s like you, you, you know, because you, you see the, the sincere interest on part of the children they want you to be there. There they’re honored that you’re there, their honor, that you like gave your time because you believe in them. Like you’re making this effort because you believe in them. There’s so appreciative, you know? And and I think that they really have developed, like, you know, they’ve bonded, you know, with, with these kids, you know, and it would be interesting, you know, when this is all said and done, like you know what they would say about all of this, you know, when it’s all, you know, when it’s been unveiled and all of that. I mean, I think that’s like really special.

Tracy:                                        33:00                       Yeah. In a true partnership, both sides are going to be affected and changed for the better. And it sounds like you’re doing that. Exactly thing. Sorry.

Shireen:                                   33:10                       Yeah. Amazing. Yeah. No, I mean, it’s just, I mean, I’m just so lucky that the right people in the right place had the time, were willing to give the time with the right mastery, with the right technological mastery also, because we’ve had, you do so much pivoting. Oh. Because of the, you know, and that’s why this is so valuable as a pilot because the same challenges that we’re having in the school, we’re going to have everywhere we go, you know, outdated technology, slow processing, you know, five-year-old laptops, slow Wifi. You know, you have to, you have to work closely with IT to make sure that, you know, XYZ isn’t blocked by the school server. And you know, it’s just like constant problem solving one thing after another. Okay. The kids all have to have their own accounts on this cloud base, you know, Blah Blah Blah.

Shireen:                                   34:12                       Oh well we can’t do it because they’re, they won’t be able to, you know, send out IT. I mean, it’s just been like such a learning curve. It’s just been like, Eh, Eh, keep doing love, keep turning, keep turning left, keep turning left. You know, and then finally, after so many sessions, which you know, is good anecdote for us too because it means that we need to work even closer with IT so that these solutions can be implemented ahead of time so that it’s not using the student’s time when they should be built using that time to build a technology out. And but that’s why it’s a pilot. That’s why it’s called a pilot and it’s not a okay program just yet because these are the antidotes that we need to know. You know, and other institutions need to know going in because if they want to replicate this110%, they will deal with the exact same problems.

Shireen:                                   35:10                       In fact, some schools don’t even have laptops. So then what, you know, do we, what, what community partner do we work with? Or does this become an afterschool program or, you know, how will we, how will we problem solve that? You know what, what role can the local Chamber of Commerce play in this? What role can be, you know, governmental agency of Workforce Development? I mean, shouldn’t they have skin in the game? Like everybody should have skin in the game, you know, it shouldn’t be just the school left to their own devices trying to do what is such a revolutionary, you know, program every, everybody should be vested in, in this being successful. So there’s, there’s so much, you know, that has already been learned and that will continue to be learned. You know, as this, this program keeps evolving, but it’s great. I mean it’s just, it’s incredible. This would be nothing without the WordPress community. No Way. No Way.

Amy:                                           36:15                       So I have a question for, you know, when they finished the websites and they do the unveiling and everybody’s thrilled, the kids have learned how to build websites, the businesses have business, have websites going forward, will the students be able to provide any kind of ongoing support as you know, for these businesses and you know, start making some kind of recurring revenue for themselves as providers of maintenance or support services?

Shireen:                                   36:39                       That’s a very important question. I don’t know the answer to that. I think that we’ve, we’ve spent so much time just trying to overcome the technological barriers and software barriers that we haven’t even like thought that far ahead. And I definitely am open to all discussions because I agree with you that that would be so tragic if we don’t give them some kind of nest, you know, for them to understand, okay, you’ve done this now. This is what you can do with this. This is how you can take it forward on your own as an individual. And and this should definitely be the next phase like for sure. And we should talk about this, you know, because again, like, I don’t know, like how, how do you set this up? Like how do you become an individual contractor? How, what, what else do you need to know? You know, what other skills must you develop, you know? Yeah.

Tracy:                                        37:48                       Bring in like how to file for your LLC and you know, that kind of stuff. Yeah.

Amy:                                           37:53                       I mean, some of the most important things I’ve learned about doing, you know, this career is being able to run a business. It’s not about being able to make a website. And I’ve learned a lot of that from people in the WordPress community that had been doing it. And so I was wondering, you know, does, do the schools have business classes or, or is this something that could be incorporated into the curriculum to give them the skills in addition to being able to make a website but being able to know what to charge and how to have a contract. And all the things that go with running a business.

Shireen:                                   38:24                       And I think, I think maybe that should be something that is the next step, you know that could be part of their, so there’s a term that’s often used, you know, which is called “transition”. So when the kids are transitioning out of high school into their next realm of life you know, this is an important antidote. And actually a lot of the students that are participating in this card program many of them are, are, are not seniors. So this could be something that we do next. You know, where it’s a two part program where one, they built out the websites and blah, blah, blah. Then the second portion of the program is, okay, so let’s get real, you know I’m a WordPress developer and so-and-so’s a WordPress developer. And then maybe you guys actually present to the students and say, this is, you know, this is a toolkit. This is what you do. These are the things you need to do. This is how you establish, you know, this is how you find clients. And I don’t know. You know, it’s, I think that that is, that’s essential because if this is work force development, then they need other tools to support them. So I, I totally agree with that. That’s extremely important. We should talk about that.

Amy:                                           39:51                       And I feel like we could probably even bring in more people, so anybody watching that wants to get involved, we’ll have information in the show notes. But I really think that, you know, there are a lot of people in the WordPress community that would be interested in getting involved and helping in a variety of ways and not just, you know, showing kids how to code but, and you know, all stages of this process

Tracy:                                        40:11                       And even just being able to scale it out

Amy:                                           40:13                       And repeat it or even just, you know, if they need employees and you know, hiring some of the, you know, students to work on a part time basis to get to learn more about what it’s like really on the inside of an agency that’s doing this. Could be, because you know, building websites is not going away anytime soon.

Shireen:                                   40:29                       Oh my gosh. That would be like, that would be so amazing. Oh, Amy, that would be unbelievable.

Amy:                                           40:39                       Well, I know you’ve applied to speak at WordCamp US and it would be really exciting if you do and that would open a lot of doors for people to learn about this program and it will be after the reveal of the website. So I think it would be really interesting as a presentation there. So hopefully you get picked to be there. We’re almost at a time, but I did want to make a point to say you know, referencing the whole WordPress community. When this got started, I also contacted Robbie at beaver builder and he generously donated a like unlimited number of licenses for the kids to use in building their websites for I think an unlimited amount of time. So we should definitely give them some credit for being involved as well. That’s phenomenal. And for anybody that would like to find out more Shireen, you want to tell us where we can find you online?

Shireen:                                   41:31                       Well, I’m on Linkedin. And of course I have a website which you know, you can contact me through that, which is www.deafkidscode.org and do you, you’re on Twitter and Facebook too. Yeah. All right. So Deaf Kids Code everywhere.

Amy:                                           41:56                       Thank you, Shireen, for being with us today. It’s been great to talk to you and hopefully we’ll see you at WordCamp us. You guys are awesome. It was lovely meeting you and thank you so much for providing this platform and allowing me to share, share the story.

Shireen:                                   42:12                       I thank you for doing this. Yeah.

Tracy:                                        42:22                       Thanks for listening. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter for join our Facebook group. We would be honored if you subscribe to the show. You can find us on Spotify, stitcher, Google play, and iTunes. Finally, if you want to be on the show or know someone who would visit our website WomeninWP.com. Until next time.


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