Touch the Sky: A Planetarium Show for Blind People – Part 1
I was recently awarded a grant by the Royal Astronomical Society to design and create a planetarium show for blind people, something that, to my knowledge, has never been done in the UK before.
I’m only in the early stages of the project, but I am working with a designer Alex Dobbie from the Glasgow School of Art’s School of Design to create a set of “tactile starballs” which will allow blind and visually impaired people to feel their way around the night sky, guided by me in a planetarium environment.
I have years of planetarium experience, having run Glasgow Science Centre’s planetarium between 2004 and 2008, developing many shows for a range of audiences, from young pre-school children to adults, but this show – called Touch the Sky – presents a whole new set of challenges.
I will be working with blind and visually impaired people from Visibility Glasgow in order to test our prototypes to make sure that we get the scale, size, texture and detail right on our final starballs.We’ll be testing the first prototypes next week, and then mocking up some full starballs for further testing.
Once the final models are completed I will have a set of twenty of them, allowing me to run planetarium shows for audiences up to that number. I will be trialling the show in both Glasgow Science Centre and the Royal Observatory Greenwich in January and February 2011. The finished show will be launched later in 2011.
I’ll be blogging throughout the whole project, with details about how the show is progressing.