Astronomy is a very visual science, right? Who among us, in our outreach projects, didn’t experience firsthand the enthusiasm reflected in a kids face when sees the amazing images from our Universe? And how easy is to, with a single image produce that sense of awe for the vastness of our cosmos… The question is: can we share this excitement and sense of amazement with those that cannot see? The current resources and activities for the inclusion of visually impaired children, although increasing, are still costly and scarce.
So, teaming up with organizations such Universe Awareness, Galileo Teacher Training Program and Astronomers Without Borders, GalileoMobile will help bring great tactile resources for visually impaired children around the world. “A Touch of The Universe”, a non-profit project aims to build 30 sets of tactile astronomy kits to children. The kit’s project will feature a half-sphere with constellations, a tactile moon and a booklet, sets of “From Earth to the Universe (FETTU)” and Braille prints, in Spanish and English, of the “The Little Moon Phase Book”, by Noreen Grice. The project is still on an initial stage of development and GalileoMobile will be among the first to distribute and implement these resources among educators and teachers in developing countries in their travels around the world. Our team already had the great experience with one of these resources. Last January, in a joint collaboration with ACAPO (Portuguese association for the blind and visually impaired) we explored the tactile moon features with a group of visually impaired in Porto, Portugal. It had such a huge impact and the experience was truly rewarding that we’re really eager to continue our experiences featuring the other materials. Check out our photos in Facebook!
Another collaborative effort done by our team is the “Meet our Neighbours” project. Teaming up with NUCLIO and Europlanet and following a philosophy of sharing resources and making them available for free to all, this project plans through the use of hands-on low cost materials produce a set of 13 tactile images of the main objects of the Solar System. Accessing several common problems with tactile resources this project presents ways to avoid the expensive tactile printing costs through the use of daily basis materials and promote inclusion and interactive activities for visually impaired children and their non-visually impaired peers in the more socially deprived areas. Next July, between the 8th and 12th, GalileoMobile will once again team up with ACAPO in a joint activity. The tactile images from “Meet our Neighbours” will be presented and built by blind and visually impaired children and their educators. We’ll keep you posted on this, so stay tuned for more on GalileoMobile efforts to bring the universe to visually impaired children around the world!