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HomeNewsTechThe visually impaired can 'hear' and feel the eclipse

The visually impaired can ‘hear’ and feel the eclipse

Visually impaired people do not get the opportunity to see or understand many phenomena of nature. Scientists are working with various technologies for them. The visually impaired should be able to hear and feel cosmic events like solar eclipses

Yuki Hatch, a school student from Austin, Texas, USA, said, ‘Solar eclipses are very beautiful. Everyone should experience such an event once in a lifetime. I am visually impaired, and quite passionate about space. I want to work as a computer scientist in NASA. A small listening device called the LightSound Box has been developed for us. I will hear the eclipse instead of seeing it with the instrument.’

This light-sound device is the brainchild of a blind astronomer named Wanda Diaz-Merced. He teamed up with Harvard astronomer Alison Biarilla to design the instrument. Díaz routinely uses data transformation methods to analyze the results of his research. He said, this machine can convert light into sound. When the sun shines, the instrument produces high-pitched notes. When the moon begins to cover the sun during an eclipse, it produces a mid-range sound note. The sound makes a single click sound when it gets dark. Sightless people can tell reception by sound level.

A prototype of this instrument was first used during the 2017 total solar eclipse. This year, a modern version of the device will be available to the visually impaired during the solar eclipse in Mexico, the United States and Canada. About 750 devices will be distributed among the visually impaired. Astronomer Diaz said, ‘The sky is for everyone. If everyone in the world can see, even the blind should be given a chance. I want students to understand acceptance. We have plans to broadcast the sounds of LightSound devices online through the Zoom platform. Many young students as well as many have lost their eyesight due to age. We are trying to create opportunities through technology for everyone.’

There will be an opportunity to know the solar eclipse through sound as well as touch. Tactile Engineering of Indiana, USA has developed a special type of Cadence tablet computer. Through this, the event of solar eclipse can be felt through the sense of touch. The tablet is almost like a mobile phone. This device has the opportunity to read through various points. During a solar eclipse, blind people can read the full details of the event by touch.