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Astronomical kit for the visually impaired, Spain

Overview of the project

Project title: Astronomical kit for the visually impaired, Spain
Project leader: Dr. Amelia Ortiz-Gil

Follow the project here: http://astrokit.uv.es/

'A Touch of the Universe project logo' - Image Credit - A Touch of the Universe projectThe goal is to develop a kit with different astronomical activities to help communicators and teachers in reaching children with visual impairments. The kit will consist of: (a) “The sky in your hands“, a planetarium program with original soundtrack in various languages and a half-sphere with constellations engraved in it, (b) a booklet of activities to be carried out with the planetarium half-sphere, (c) a tactile 3D Moon specifically designed for the visually impaired, along with a booklet of Moon activities, (d) one set of the FETTU braille sheets with an activity guide, and (e) a book on tactile astronomy.

The kit will be sent to developing countries through the Universe Awareness (UNAWE) program, Astronomers without Borders (AWB) and Global Hands-On Universe (GHOU) networks of national points of contact in those regions or countries. Depending on the amount of funding available, we are planning to send initially 10 kits to Asia, 10 to Africa and 8 to Southamerica. Another two will be carried around by the Galileo Mobile project to difficult to reach regions of the world.

If you wish to help the project by donating, please follow this link!

“Touch of the Universe” activity led in India

A report of activity from a recipient of the “Touch of the Universe” kit, Divyadarshan Purohit from India

“It was very keen demand for a long time for useful system with help of which we can show the sky to the visually impaired. The IAU-OAD & University of Valencia have recently developed a specially designed kit for the visually impaired which was gifted to Gurudev Observatory with the help of Dr. Amelia Ortz-Gil (UDV, Spain), including custom duty. This is the very first kit for India for our project “Aavo Chhule Aasmaan” (Let us touch the sky ).
 
Sessions:
My family and I have started special sessions for the blind under our project “Aavo Chhule Aasmaan” . We have conducted three session with very grand success. The sessions took place at:
 
(1) Blind girls school where 40 girls are studying from 1 to 10th std. This was a very fruitful session. The girls asked about how to become astronauts, about the International Space Station (ISS), the procedure to be an astronomer/cosmologist, climate change and global warming or lightening and rainbow phenomena. They differentiated the phase of waning and waxing moon by touching the Tactile moon map. They were amazed to learn that moon is a globe just like Earth and were surprised to know about sun, sunspots, galaxies & hot gas at various wavelength.
 
(2) Blind association where 12 blind men were with us. They were interested in learning about the Solar system & moon.
 
(3) A planetarium with 150 visually impaired men & women.
 
Media coverage
As usual both print & electronic media help us tremendous by giving continuous news of the sessions. One of the Leading Newspaper of Gujarat “Sandesh” has dedicated whole page 3 for this purpose.All  local,state & national level channel & Radio FM Mirchi joined us.With help of media we were able to spread the message up to 50 million Indians within a week.
 
Suggestions:
(1) Books, maps, DVDs in form of braille & audio must be translated in local language.
(2) More assistants should be there to take more successful sessions.
(3) Some more models e.g. Solar system, Comets would be required.
 
Conclusion:
During our carrier we never got such self satisfaction & happiness which we had during these session. We are very much grateful to Dr. Amelia Oritz-Gil and friends at the IAU for such a incredible gift. For more pictures & videos kindly have a look at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gurudevobservatory/sets/.
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Distribution list

Mani (India)
Antonieta Garcia (Chile)
DIVYADARSHAN D.PUROHIT (INDIA)
Lynnette Foster (South Africa)
Musso Sebastián (Argentina)
ALESSANDRO MARTINS (BRAZIL)
Chuck (USA)
Cassius A. M. de Melo (Brazil)
Juan Camilo Buitrago Casas (Colombia)
Rebecca Carvalho (India)
Saeed Sadeghi Mehr (Iran)
Cecilia Scorza (Germany)
OAD (South Africa)
Pedro Russo (The Netherlands)
Lina Canas (Portugal)
Felipe Robaina Bressiani (Brazil)
Alejandro Jimenez (Cuba)
Suman Gautam (Nepal)
Ana Paula Malvina dos Santos (Brazil)
Giovanny Alejandro Pinzón Estrada (Colombia)
Galileo Mobile
Marcy (Costa Rica)
Alvaro José Cano Mejía (Colombia)

Call to Action – Get involved with “A touch of the Universe”!

Tactile Moon

Child_tactile_moon

To carry out the “A touch of the Universe” project, we still need to raise 3200 Euros. If you want to be part of it, please click the Donate button below. For institutions donating more than 1000 Euros, your logo will be included on the project’s website and all the printed materials of the kit. Please contact us in if you have any questions about the project or donations.

If you want to help getting the word out please click on any of the share buttons below or download and spread the Call To Action in pdf format.

You can also contact directly Dr. Amelia Ortiz-Gil at amelia.ortiz@uv.es or Thilina Heenatigala at thilina@astronomerswithoutborders.org.

donate

A touch of the Universe

“I know you love astronomy, or else you wouldn’t be reading this blog. But what is there that can rival with the beauty of the night sky? In my personal opinion, something as wonderful and mesmerizing as that dark tapestry of stars is the smile and glow in the face of a child who has just uncovered a mystery of the cosmos.

Read the rest of the blog on the “Astronomers Without Borders” website, here.