Blinded by the Light? Not With These Useful Resources for Enjoying the 2017 Solar Eclipse!

Today, we have a very special guest post from our very own Tyler Bachelder. He shares great tips and resources for enjoying the upcoming 2017 solar eclipse without sight!

This year, we are set to experience a total eclipse of the sun. From Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina, a 70-mile wide band traces the path of totality in which the sun will appear to completely occlude the moon on Monday, August 21. You may assume that a blind person wouldn’t find anything to get excited about, but thanks to modern technology and some inventive methods, nothing could be further from the truth! Here are some resources for those who are blind or visually impaired to release their inner astronomer and enjoy this momentous occasion.

  • Thanks to a collaboration between The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), NASA’s Heliophysics Education Consortium (HEC), the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), and the National Park Service (NPS), blind and visually impaired people can download Soundscapes, a feature-rich app that allows them to experience the eclipse in a number of interactive ways. Find the app here.
  • The Hadley Institute for the Blind and NASA have teamed up to do an audio presentation on the eclipse with insight and context from NASA scientists. Register here.  The first thirty registrants will also receive tactile maps featuring the path of totality and more.
  • NASA generously donated 11 copies of these tactile books to The Chicago Lighthouse, thanks NASA! Drop by to take a look. Over 5,000 copies were also donated to schools for the blind, museums, and local library systems throughout the United States. Check with local library or museum to see if one is available. Learn about the project here.
  • There are a couple places to hear live audio descriptions of the event. The American Council of the Blind (ACB) is featuring an hour-long program through its Audio Description Project in partnership with The Mid-Tennessee Council of the Blind, the Tennessee School for the Blind and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. The program will feature sun-themed music and a professionally described narration of the eclipse. Stream it here. A phone broadcast is also available by calling (605) 475-8130. Additionally, it can be streamed on iOS devices through the ACB Link app. The stream starts at 1p.m. CST on Monday.
  • MindsEye Radio is also featuring an audio description. Stream it on their website. Their stream starts at 1 CST as well.

Thanks to these and other resources, blindness need not be a barrier to appreciating one of the most phenomenal events that nature has to offer. On behalf of The Chicago Lighthouse, enjoy!

sandy speaking

Sandy Murillo works at The Chicago Lighthouse, an organization serving the blind and visually impaired. She is the author of Sandy’s View, a bi-weekly Lighthouse blog about blindness and low vision. The blog covers topics of interest to those living with blindness and vision impairments. Being a blind journalist and blogger herself, Sandy shares her unique perspective about ways to live and cope with vision loss.

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