Technology Allows Blind People To Enjoy The Eclipse Wherever They Are

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While eclipse watchers look to the skies on April 8th, people who are blind or have low vision will be able to hear and feel the celestial event wherever they are in the world.

Sound and touch devices will be available at public gatherings when the total solar eclipse crosses North America, which is when the moon blots out the sun for a few minutes.

A device called the Lightsound Box will translate the visual light in the sky into audio notes, with high flute notes depicting the sunlight, and as the moon covers the sun, the mid-range notes will echo those of a clarinet. The ensuing darkness will appear audibly as a low clicking sound.

There will be at least 750 of these devices being made available to locations hosting eclipse events across Canada, the US and Mexico.

The Perkins Library — associated with the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts — plans to broadcast the changing tones of the LightSound device over Zoom for members to listen online and by telephone.

Others will experience the solar event through the sense of touch, with the Cadence tablet from Indiana’s Tactile Engineering. The tablet is about the size of a cellphone with rows of dots that pop up and down. It can be used for a variety of purposes: reading Braille, feeling graphics and movie clips, playing video games.

Aira, the visual interpreter service, will offer a live audio description commentary via YouTue and its Aira Explorer app, from an event held in Rochester, New York. Jenine Stanley from the company told Steven and Shaun what to expect.

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