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ISSUE 26 - October 2019





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Touch the Universe: Developing and Disseminating Tactile Telescope Models Created with a 3D Printer (page 24)
Usuda-Sato, K.; Nakayama, H.; Fujiwara, H.; Usuda, T.

Summary

We initiated a project to develop tactile models of telescopes from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) to explain cutting-edge technologies of the telescopes and how they work. The goal was to develop models that could be understandable for blind and visually impaired (BVI) and sighted people and to make the data for these models freely available in a format compatible with commercially available 3D printers. As a first step, we created a 1/110th scale model of the Subaru Telescope, NAOJ’s large optical-infrared telescope on Maunakea, Hawai‘i. Based on comments from people who are BVI and a science teacher of special needs, we created two types of model: A detailed model for sighted people and people who are BVI who have excellent haptic observing (touch interaction) skills and a simplified model for students at special needs schools for the visually impaired who are learning how to touch samples and need tactile models in science classes. With these models and other tactile models of celestial bodies, the special exhibit Touch the Universe was held at the tactile museum of the Japan Braille Library.