Mobile Planetarium Session for Visually Impaired Students

As a volunteer of Arivu Trust, I was recently part of an unique initiative for visually impaired students at Deepa Academy of Differently Abled.

We teamed up with Tare Zameen Par, an organization that brings science to the doorstep, to conduct mobile planetarium sessions.

We were excited when we thought of it. The idea of conducting a planetarium session to visually challenged students seemed terrific. However, as we got into more details and nuances, I must admit I got a bit skeptical and anxious about the outcome. These students had gained some knowledge about the solar system using our tactile 3D models. So, perhaps this session is the next logical step. But are we being overambitious in our expectations? How would these students, who experience the world through touch and sound, connect with the visually stunning content by Tare Zameen Par? Is it practical at all?

After an elaborate meeting with the Tare Zameen Par team, where we discussed their content repository, we decided to showcase their video that covered Earth, Sun, and Moon in general. This, we believed, would complement what our students already know. The Tare Zameen Par team put in several hours of effort to customize this content and narration for our visually impaired students.

As the first batch of students lined up to enter the planetarium dome, we were anxious, hopeful, and proud.

The immediate feedback from this batch of students was good. From the birth of stars to the movement of planets around the sun, the concepts were conveyed with great clarity within a short duration of 20-25 minutes. Despite their inability to see, these students were fully engaged and fascinated by what they heard.

Deepa Academy students in the dome

But perhaps the most rewarding moment came during the post-session interaction. While students wholeheartedly appreciated the experience and asked for more, every question they posed triggered more questions and needed deeper discussions. This curiosity assured us that the session was impactful.

QA session after the vent

As we wrapped up, we were thankful to Tare Zameen Par. Their commitment towards inclusivity is truly commendable. Hopefully, we will work together again for more such sessions.