Washington, Jan 16 : NASA has brought out a new book in Braille language that will make it possible for the visually impaired to experience images of the cosmos taken by different observatories.
Launched at a ceremony at the National Federation of the Blind on January 15 in Baltimore, USA, the 60-page book titled "Touch the Invisible Sky", has color images of nebulae, stars, galaxies and some of the telescopes that captured the original pictures.
Each image is embossed with lines, bumps and other textures. These raised patterns translate colors, shapes and other intricate details of the cosmic objects, allowing visually impaired people to experience them. raille and large-print descriptions accompany each of the book's 28 photographs, making the book's design accessible to readers of all visual abilities.
"One of the greatest challenges faced by blind students who are interested in scientific study is that certain kinds of information are not available to them in a non-visual form," said Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind.
"Books like this one are an invaluable resource because they allow the blind access to information that is normally presented through visual observation and media. Given access to this information, blind students can study and compete in scientific fields as well as their sighted peers," he added.
According to NASA officials, the book contains images from the Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory, Spitzer Space Telescope and powerful ground-based telescopes.
The celestial objects are presented as they appear through visible-light telescopes and different spectral regions invisible to the naked eye, from radio to infrared, visible, ultraviolet and X-ray light. The book also introduces the concept of light and the spectrum and explains how the different observatories complement each other's findings.
Overall, the readers get to experience a cosmic journey beginning with images of the sun, relics of exploding and dying stars, as well as the Whirlpool galaxy and colliding Antennae galaxies.
The book will be available to the public through a wide variety of sources, including NASA libraries, the National Federation of the Blind, Library of Congress repositories, schools for the blind, libraries, museums and science centers.
"About 10 million visually impaired people live in the United States," said astronomy educator and accessibility specialist Noreen Grice. "I hope this book will be a unique resource for people who are sighted or blind to better understand the part of the universe that is invisible to all of us," he added.