SANTIAGO – Chile is preparing for a total eclipse that will be visible from large parts of the country. But what about those with visual disabilities? For Chilean researchers, the solar eclipse should be enjoyed by everyone.
As reported by La Tercera, a group of students from the Hellen Keller School in Santiago were prepared for the solar eclipse with inclusive material, that explained more about the phenomenon occurring today.
On the occasion, different educational materials were presented for blind people, developed in Braille and tactile material, with the purpose of delivering knowledge to students about science and astronomy. Among the organizations involved in the projects were the Ministry of Science, CONICYT, the Giant Magallan Telescope (GMT), the Ecoscience Foundation, and the Diego Portales University.
Experiencing the Solar Eclipse Through Sound
At the Astronomy Department of the Diego Portales University, researcher Erika Labbé developed a device that gives blind people the possibility to experience the solar eclipse through sound. That works as following: the device detects light through its sensor and emits a sound based on the brightness it receives.
The device is no bigger than the palm of a hand and must be pointed with its sensor at the sun during the eclipse. The sensor is similar to a lens of a camera, that automatically adapts contrast to the amount of light it receives.
Instead of changing the contrast, it changes the tone and the volume of the sound it emits. When the Moon eclipses the Sun this afternoon, the device will have a high, sharp melody, but as the shadow of the Sun grows, the sound from the device will decrease, illustrating the weakening sunlight.
All Regions of Chile
Researchers from the GMT published a book, titled “Open your Senses to the Eclipses: South America,” with material provided by NASA.
The book goes into detail about this year’s and next year’s total solar eclipse in Chile and Argentina, and has relief and braille, meaning that children with visual disabilities are able to learn about the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth, their movements and interaction, and, most important, the stages of the eclipse.
The book has been distributed throughout Chile to various institutions and schools for people with visual disabilities.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and made appearances on BBC World Services and ABC News during major events in Chile.