You Can Do Astronomy

and Touch the Sky

A unique company that reaches out to low-vision astronomers. Courtesy You Can Do Astronomy.com.

Welcome to my 365 Days of Astronomy podcast for January 14, 2010. Today’s episode features an interview with Noreen Grice, president of You Can Do Astronomy, LLC, a unique company that creates astronomy outreach materials for people with limited, low, or problem vision.  Noreen has created a number of tactile books for this underserved astronomy community, including Touch the Sky, Touch the Sun, Touch the Universe: A NASA Braille Book of Astronomy, and The Little Moon Phase Book. You can also get a tactile image of the Carina Nebula by visiting the Amazing Space web page.

Noreen is an internationally recognized expert on astronomy education for limited-vision audiences to planetariums and science centers. She consults on accessibility issues for museums and science centers, and presents workshops on the subject at various conferences.  I have known Noreen for many years, and hope to work with her in the future to bring more astronomy to as many visitors as possible.

We had a chance to sit down and talk at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington, D.C. in January 2010, and this podcast is the result of our conversation.  Her story is amazing, and (no pun intended) opened my eyes to an area of astronomy education that most people don’t even think about — the need to bring the universe to all people–regardless of their abilities.  If you stop to think about it, nobody on Earth is a perfect detector of all the wavelengths of light in the electromagnetic spectrum. Beyond those wavelengths that we evolved to see or hear, we can’t possibly hope to “see” or “hear” anything beyond those limited ranges. So, in some sense, we are all restrained from experiencing the fullness of the cosmos. For low- and limited-vision individuals, “seeing” the universe is doubly hard — and Noreen’s work is addressing their needs in a way that no one has before.  Check out her web page and give her a call if you’re a museum professional in need of interpretative astronomy exhibits and media; if you’re a teacher in need of Braille and tactile materials. Noreen’s your person!

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