After being contacted by a blind musician who treasured our sonification of the TRAPPIST-1 system, we realized we could reach a large audience of underserved people by communicating astronomy through music and sound. In addition to developing new narrated videos, we are also combining our astronomical sonifications with tactile representations and reaching out to organizations for the blind.
On September 15, 2017 we organized an astronomy booth for Night Steps, a fundraising walk for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). The exhibit paired tactile and audio representations of four different astronomical objects:
- our sonification of Saturn’s rings/wood carving of the same data
- our musicalization of TRAPPIST-1/3D printed scale model
- a sonification of gravitational waves/3D printed model of spacetime ripples
- a sonification of the cosmic microwave background (Big Bang)/3D printed model of CMB ripples
and also included tactile astronomy images provided by the CHANDRA X-Ray Observatory. We were joined by astronomers Heidi White, Catherine Woodford, Katerina Chatziioannou, and Alysa Obertas from the University of Toronto.
We are currently collaborating with blind cancer researcher Mahadeo Sukhai, the CNIB, and the South Pacific Educators in Vision Impairment to make our content and website more accessible. We will be developing a planetarium show that is optimized for the visually impaired in the fall of 2017. If you can help us bring astronomy to the visually impaired please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.