Inspiring Stories – Make the wonders of space accessible to all
In this EPEC Inspiring Story, Ines Belgacem and the Sens’Astro team describe how they are creating resources to share the wonders of the Universe with those with disabilities through a multisensory experience.
Making your work accessible to the general public is a crucial part of a scientist’s mission. This is the fundamental belief that brought the eight of us together to create Sens’Astro: experiencing space through the five senses.
Passionate about space science and astrophysics, we love sharing that passion with the public. However, in our past experiences, we have been struck by how part of the population has limited access to the wonders of space that are so much based on what we see. That is how in October 2019, through the original idea of Marina Gruet, we came together to create Sens’Astro. Our mission is to share innovative content to discover the Universe through our five senses – sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch – making it accessible to people with sensory disabilities.
Meet the team!
During our first year, we have developed several activities that we have had the chance to test at a series of public events with audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Do you know what the Milky Way tastes like? What does the Moon smell like? What does Mars’s wind sound like? These are the sort of things we are proposing to be discovered at our events!
We are grateful for the support we have already received from organisations like the Société Française d’Astronomie et d’Astrophysique (SF2A), la Cité de l’Espace (Toulouse, France) and Délires d’Encre. Thanks to them, we were able to develop and do live tests of the activities we want to share.
We are now looking to expand and invest in more durable equipment for the future. We are currently reflecting on how to make our activities safe in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are really looking forward to going back out there to meet the public and keep sharing our passion with everyone!
One of the most rewarding aspects of this first year has been getting feedback from our different events. So much of space exploration is told through breath-taking images and it is not easy to find ways to share it through other senses. People who were already a bit of a space enthusiast found our activities to be a clever take on what they were already familiar with, and they even discovered a new way to look at the Universe. People with sensory disabilities appreciated that we tailored our content for them and had some crucial remarks to help us improve, e.g. the spacing in our Braille impressions was sometimes insufficient for them to read. Kids were incredibly happy to be able to touch things like meteorites and 3D-printed planetary surfaces or to bake Milky Way and Jupiter cookies. Involving them in that way makes it so much easier to hold their attention and help them remember what they learnt.
All in all, finding ways to discover space through all five senses has been challenging – in a good way! It has allowed us to reach a wide range of audiences though innovative and accessible content. And you can do that too! You can visit our social network pages to see more examples or interact with us. You can even participate in our first-year anniversary event and share with our community the image, the scent, the feel, the sound and taste of this last year in space.
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook: @SensAstro31
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