Visually Challenged

Sub-Group Name
IAU Sub-Working Group for the Visually Challenged

Coordinator(s): Amelia Bayo

Sub-Group Description

Because astronomy is often visually based, many people assume that it cannot be made accessible. The study of the universe in multiple wavelengths has revolutionized our understanding and appreciation of the cosmos. Our understanding of how the universe works has come quite far with the plethora of imagery from ground-based and space observatories all of the world.

Interestingly, most of the electromagnetic spectrum is invisible to all of us; astronomers have merely translated data into a visible medium. We have, at this juncture, a unique opportunity to take a bold step forward in relaying scientific information — to combine multi-wavelength data, imagery and tactile graphics to communicate the beauty and science of the universe to people regardless of their own visual ability.

The IAU Sub-Working Group for the Visually Challenged, seeks to bring astronomy to people living with visual challenges and to build tools, strategies, and resources to enable equality and inclusion of our target group.

Sub-Group Goals

The under-representation of people with disabilities in the space science field has been recognized and documented by respected studies and institutions. To help remedy this situation, special needs students have to be engaged with products that are dedicated to their needs. Special needs educators have the knowledge and expertise in instructional strategies for these students but may not have the particular special needs resources required for teaching space science. There is an overwhelming thirst for materials to help these teachers in their efforts to introduce space science to special needs students.
Use Astronomy as a way to improve the representation of visually challenged people in the field and share the beauty of the Universe with the members of the general public who may be visually impaired.

  1. Establish an international reference network, composed of institutions and individuals which have specific astronomy programs and activities  directed to our target group.
  2. Identify representative organisations that have particular skills needed by our target group, such as European Blind Union, or National Federations for the Blind.
  3. Enhance and support the work of the international network by identifying specific needs in the community and providing tools to support the
    development of projects and initiatives.
  4. Assemble and provide a free and publicly available repository of best practices, experiences, tools and resources related to astronomy initiatives in
    hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons.
  5. Build upon pre-existing projects and experiences in order to contribute to the advancement of existing initiatives and encourage the creation of new ones.
  6. Contribute to the different fields across inclusion, by working closely with other sub-groups of the IAU WG on Astronomy for Equity and Inclusion.

National Contacts

Country Contact person
Puerto Rico Asociación Puertorriqueña de Ciegos Inc.
Puerto Rico Asociación de no videntes Luz de Amor, Inc.
USA National Federation for the Blind

National Allies

Country Service & Contact person
Puerto Rico Centro Educativo Para Ciegos e Impedidos de Puerto Rico
Dr. Ana María Marqués
Puerto Rico Comunidad,,
Prof. José Manuel Álvarez 


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