Italian astronomer Elena Saabi has been proving her mettle by stretching her astronomical expertise outside of the Space Telescope Science Institute and has developed a brand new e-book for visually impaired readers that has been described as " pioneering " work.
The book has been written and designed for Key Stage 2 readers aged between ten and twelve years old and aims to open the wonders of the science of astronomy using visual, tactile AND audio cues for those that are visually impaired.Images have been used in the e-book that have been taken by the Hubble telescope while on it's journey through our solar system.They include amazing scenes of the 30 Doradus Nebula ( known as the Tarantula Nebula).The book will be made using "read aloud" technology over six chapters that will have an audio icon on each screen page. In addition to this the developers are using Sonification where by touching " a star" it's actual degree of brightness will be translated via a pitched audible tone that will be higher the brighter the star. Using headphones, the reader will also be able to distinguish the temperature of each star by " where" they hear the audio tones in their headgear, left for cooler and right for hotter.A clever overlay for the screens will be printed with braille and relief features " raised" from the so called page to represent characteristics of the stars.
The idea came further to Ms Saabi hiring an intern into her lab that was blind. Together with a software analytics company the first showcase of the e-book was previewed at the American Astronomical Society's winter delegation last week. It is hoped that the book will be available for the ipad via the App Store for free after a launch date has been fixed.