Technology Gives Visually Impaired A View Of Solar Eclipse

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solar eclipse

People Who are Visually Impaired Can View The Eclipse With New Technology

Less than five months ago an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Henry Winter was asked to describe an eclipse. The only problem was that he is blind so initially, he was a little stumped. But once given a moment, Winter remembered a talk given by one of his colleagues, which explained the way crickets started and stopped during eclipses.

“It’s a huge event we wanted people who are visually impaired to participate in that event along with everybody else,” Winter told CBC News.

Winter, along with a team, launched what’s called Eclipse Soundscapes. This is an app which can allow carious methods for those who are visually impaired or blind to experience what an eclipse actually is.

The experience begins with what is heard, along with some help from the National Centre for Accessible Media. The app essentially gives what they say is an “illustrative description” of what is happening during the eclipse. The descriptions can be read by either a voiceover option or on a recorded voice from the app.

“We wanted to give everybody, even those who are sighted but maybe couldn’t make it to the eclipse, a play-by-play of what it would be like if they were in the path of totality,” said Winter. “I want them to engage in astronomy and astrophysics right alongside with me, I don’t want them to do some downgraded version of science.”

The broadcast online can also benefit a person without any visual impairment. How? People without special eclipse glasses are needed to view the event and without them, someone could risk serious injury, otherwise.

“For a blind person, they don’t have the option of putting on glasses and getting a sense of (the eclipse). We wanted to provide that sense with words,” Joel Snyder, director of the Audio Description Project, an initiative of the American Council of the Blind.

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