In America today, there is an estimated 23.7 million adults that say they either have trouble seeing or cannot see at all. For those living within the 2017 Solar Eclipse Path of Totality, this means they will not be able to enjoy one of nature’s most majestic events. That is, until now…

Thanks to Runyon and Edinboro University Professor David Hurd, who authored the book Getting a Feel for Eclipses, the blind and visually impaired can now too, take part in the Great American Eclipse of 2017. Getting a Feel for Eclipses, which is a braille book, teaches users using graphics about the interaction and alignment of the sun with the moon and the earth. The tactile guide also features activities which help provide clarity for the nature of solar eclipses.

For two decades, both Hurd and Cassandra Runyon, a geology professor at the College of Charleston, have written and produced braille books about science. With Getting a Feel for Eclipses, Runyan and Hurd hope that it will help the blind and visually impaired students to learn more about the track of the eclipse and the geometry surrounding the event which will take place on August 21, 2017.

The Great American Eclipse

On August 21st, 2017, what many are calling the Great American Eclipse will take place, providing millions upon millions of onlookers within the path of totality, the thrill of a lifetime as the eclipse races across ten states.

Right here at Cottonwood Corners in Madras, Oregon, will be one of the best locations within the path due to typical weather conditions, where eclipse viewers will experience just over 2 minutes of totality beginning at 10:19am.

Describing The Total Eclipse

With millions of people experiencing the four stages of the eclipse, here are 7 of the many descriptions of the eclipse viewers will experience

  1. Opening and closing partial eclipse
  2. Reddish glow of the sun’s chromosphere
  3. Temperature drop where experts state a 10-15 drop is not uncommon
  4. Wildlife draws mysteriously quiet just before the skies go dark
  5. Totality, where viewers here at Organic Earthly Delights will experience just over 2 minutes of darkness
  6. Diamond ring effect just as the sun slips behind the moon and then reappears again after totality
  7. Various hues of different colors

The Visually Impaired Join The Millions Experiencing the Eclipse

Thanks to this new braille book with tactile guide, the visually impaired can now experience the solar eclipse along with millions of others. Providing both blind and visually impaired with detailed descriptions that can finally be readily comprehended in innovative ways. The blind can now have a better understanding of what takes place during a solar eclipse like the one we are about to have across the United States.

A Brief History On Braille

In 1824, James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States of America and a popular artist with the name Beethoven was filling up concert halls with his revolutionary music when French scholar Louis Braille created a reading and writing code for the blind. Braille himself lost his eyesight in a childhood accident. He was just 15 years old at the time he created this new system.

Are Braille And Tactile The Same Thing?

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act became law, thus placing braille and tactile signs on all public buildings. But what differentiates braille and tactile?

Braille is a tactile writing system used by people who are blind or visually impaired. Specifically defined, braille is a system of writing for the blind that uses characters made up of raised dots.

The braille alphabet is based upon 6 or 8 dots that makes up a cell that is arranged into two columns of 3 or 4 dots each. Each braille letter of the alphabet or other symbol, such as a comma, is formed by using one or more of the dots that are contained in the braille cell.

With the term, Tactile, it makes things perceptible by touch, thus making them tangible. In this, tactile graphics convey non-textual information included in representations of pictures, maps, graphs, diagrams, and other images. A person with a visual impairment can then feel these raised lines and surfaces. This in-turn helps them to acquire the same information that people who are sighted get through looking at pictures or visual images.

How To Describe The Eclipse To A Visually Impaired Friend?

It’s easy to take for granted what we see all around us each and every day. But when coupled with the many differences even how sighted people see colors, describing them may not be as easy as we think.

Yet, many colors can be associated with certain smells, tastes, sounds, or feelings. Using these different senses, how would you describe the eclipse to your visually impaired friend?

How Is The Book Being Distributed?

So far, schools and libraries for the blind, state libraries, and NASA centers have received 2,500 copies of Getting a Feel for Eclipses. Additionally, 3,000 copies will also be available at this summer’s National Federation of the Blind Conference this summer as well as at museums, science centers, and NASA headquarters’ programs.

Currently, the creators of Getting a Feel for Eclipses are conducting a series of workshops and meetings across the United States to discuss the book as well as to get it in the hands of all of those who could benefit from it.

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