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Tactile Images Are Useful For Everyone

Some people use their eyes to view the beauty of our world. Some people view the same beauty through their fingertips and then paint a picture of the world in their mind's eye. Noreen Grice makes the night sky accessible through tactile (touchable) celestial images. As you slide your fingers across the textures of these tactile pictures, you connect with each image both physically and emotionally.

Tactile pictures are useful for all learners, regardless of their visual ability, because touchable images provide new opportunities to meet a variety of learning styles. Noreen Grice designs astronomy tactile images so people can better connect with the cosmos, whether they are sighted or blind. Here are examples of how blind and sighted people are using Noreen's tactile science images.

Tactile Images used in Thinktank Planetarium Shows, 2011

The Thinktank Science Museum in Birmingham England uses tactile astronomy books and images created by Noreen Grice to make their planetarium more accessible to visitors who are visually impaired.

All of their presenter-led planetarium shows are designed to follow the tactile images from Noreen's Braille Book, Touch the Stars. Visitors feel the raised sketches of constellations, planets and the moon as the planetarium presenter guides their mind's eye through the cosmos.

Tactile Images Screenshot

Learn more about accessible planetarium shows at the Thinktank Museum:§ionTitle=Accessible+Astronomy+Shows

Solar Viewing, October 2010

Solar Viewing October 2010

More than 400 students, from 5th grade through high school, observed the Sun  with NASA educator Jim Stryder. For many of these young people, this was their first peek through a telescope. In this picture, one student holds open a copy of Noreen Grice's, "Touch The Sun: A NASA Braille Book, showing a tactile image of a typical sunspot with Earth to scale for size comparison. This allowed the student viewing through the telescope to see, and "sense" by touch, the size of these features.

Tactile images are a great learning tool for everyone!


National Solar Week, April 2010

Jim Stryder, an astronomy outreach educator in Florida, encouraged 90+ students and teachers to feel tactile images from the book, Touch the Sun (by Noreen Grice). During this outreach event, the participants also viewed the sun safely through solar filters.

This combination of multiple learning modes provided a wonderful opportunity to celebrate National Solar Week for people of all visual abilities!

The Tactile Carina Nebula Project, January 2010

Noreen Grice designed the tactile graphics for the Tactile Carina Nebula. This image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Max Mutchler of the Space Telescope Science Institute was the scientific consultant on this tactile project.

The Tactile Carina Nebula was on display at the 2010 American Astronomical Society Conference in Washington DC .

Scientists touching Tactile Carina Nebula
Students Touching Tactile Carina Nebula
Scientists and Students Touching Tactile Carina Nebula

Copies of the Tactile Carina Nebula were presented to the National Federation of the Blind on January 7, 2010.

Presentation of Nebula Images.
Noreen Grice, Max Mutchler and  Vivian Hoette  present the Tactile Carina
Nebula images to Mary Jo Hartle at the National Federation of the Blind Headquarters

Click on the link below to learn more about the Tactile Carina Nebula Project and download an audio tour of the tactile image.

NASA Star Party, Colorado, April 2008:

Jim Stryder, NASA educator, has students touch a tactile image of Saturn (from Noreen Grice's Touch the Universe ) before they view Saturn through the telescope.

Click on the link to read more. 

Tactile Images at Western Connecticut State University, Spring 2005:

Dr. Dennis Dawson provided tactile star patterns (designed by Noreen Grice) for visitors to use during his public planetarium shows. Visitors also explored tactile images while viewing the same objects through the university telescope.

Visitors touch star patterns

A Visitor touches picture of Saturn

Visitors touch images of star patterns while listening to a live planetarium show

A young visitor touches a tactile picture of Saturn while viewing Saturn through the telescope.

Visitor touches Orion Nebula

Visitor touches Crescent Moon
A visitor touches a tactile image of the Orion Nebula while viewing it through the telescope. A visitor touches a tactile image of the Crescent Moon while viewing it through the telescope.

Tactile Images in Accessible Books:

Designing useful tactile images requires thoughtful testing with visually impaired readers. Back in 1988, Noreen Grice used a Versapoint-40 Braille embosser to create astronomy-related tactile illustrations. The picture below is one of her earliest tactile images of the phases of the moon. The moon is seen orbiting the earth.  Each moon phase is raised. Sunlight is shown coming  from the right side of the picture. The Versapoint-40 tactile images were tested with visitors at the Boston Museum of Science.


Braille Moon

In this prototype image of Jupiter raised, students at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind tested the prototype illustrations.  In this image, raised curves represent gas currents and the great red spot is seen as a swirling oval.

Touching the Planet Jupiter

The final Jupiter tactile image from the book Touch The Universe, appears in the picture below.

Final Jupiter Tactile Image

Booking Noreen Grice to speak at your organization