To make astronomy available to everyone during IYA2009, including those with special needs, the Spanish IYA2009 National Node created the national project called “Astronomical Activities for People with Special Needs”. As part of this project, a planetarium program for the blind, “El Cielo en tus Manos (The Sky in Your Hands)”, was produced to bring the beauty of astronomy to the visually-impaired public.
Now, in association with Astronomers Without Borders, the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Valencia has made resources for this special program available to other theaters, institutions and others involved in outreach activities.
“The Sky in Your Hands” in your planetarium
The planetarium show "The Sky in your Hands", intended for the visually-impaired, uses sounds and tactile elements that can easily be adapted to different types of planetariums.
The project’s goal is to create an “image” of the Universe for the visually-impaired and blind that is as close as possible to that experienced by sighted individuals. The project also seeks to foster skills related to the understanding of science and to pursue equality through a shared knowledge of the world.
The planetarium program is 25 to 30 minutes long, with three components: visual projection, a special soundtrack, and tactile support. The projection is simply a star field that can be static or dynamic, depending on the type of planetarium. The soundtrack includes sound effects and narration explaining astronomy facts about the projected images. In addition, each member of the audience holds a tactile semi-sphere that aids in following the story in a personal and effective way, and reinforces her/his perception of the concepts introduced in the activity.
The available resources include:
We are working on the recording of the show in English and other languages.