Friday, January 18, 2008

Letting Fingers Do the Walking in Space

Without sight, the concept of a cosmos with unending diamond-bright star bling, rotating space rocks and cataclysmic nuclear explosions, makes imagining it an individual feat of abstract creativity. In an extraordinary publishing effort, the National Federation for the Blind and NASA makes a common view of space available to interested blind and legally blind astronomers in a new illustrated book in Braille. Brilliantly put together for accessibility to both blind and sighted people, 28 stellar images are imprinted with Braille spread out in over 60 pages. The book uses spectacular imagery from Hubble, Chandra and other world (galatically) famous telescopic platforms.
Nasa astronomer Doris Daou said the book's authors "wanted to show that the beauty and complexity of the universe goes far beyond what we can see with our eyes".

The book outlines the concepts of light and spectrum and explains how different telescopes complement each other's findings.

It begins at the sun and takes readers further out into the galaxy and on to exploding and dying stars and colliding galaxies.
A whole new world opens up as more people with visual impairments are able to join in the discussion of what is commonly referred to as the final frontier. Special care was taken by the authors to collaborate with astronomers and the blind to synthesize a book that would present the universe as each would understand it and embrace together. NASA is having a great week. SOFIA, the retrofitted 747 for NOAA observation took off and executed a perfect landing. Appreciated benevolence from NASA comes because books in Braille are expensive. NASA is ensuring free copies are being made available in libraries and other venues. NASA also has two other books in Braille, Touch the Universe and Touch the Sun.
"NASA is making this book a national resource, distributing copies of the book at no cost to schools of the blind around the U.S., the Library of Congress, several blind technology and training centers, and state libraries that have astronomy collections," said Kathleen Lestition, who coordinates Education and Outreach for the Chandra X-ray Center.

Touch the Invisible Sky, authored by Noreen Grice, Simon Steele and Doris Daou, is available directly from the publisher,
Ozone Publishing.

No comments: