APH Press Release

A Historic Moment: People Who Are Blind View Eclipse in Real Time

New technology created “touchable” eclipse experience

photo of two hands touching the image of the eclipsed sun displayed on the Graphiti. Words superimposed on the photo read: Solar Eclipse 2017; APH Touches the Sun--with Graphiti

Louisville, Kentucky (August 22, 2017). For the first time in known history, people who are blind experienced the solar eclipse, as it happened, thanks to a developing technology that allowed them to feel a real time, changing image.

Employees of the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), the co-inventor of the GraphitiTM, and students of the Kentucky School for the Blind gathered together to “touch” the sun and experienced this historic event with their friends, family, and co-workers.

Graphiti, a device being developed by APH and Orbit Research, combines an array of 2400 movable pins with image software to create a tactile representation. A camera provided the eclipse image, and the shape of the moon and sun crossing paths refreshed every 10 seconds.

For people who are blind, the experience of “touching” the sun, in real time, was a thrill. It also gave participants the opportunity to share in a worldwide event.

“No one was sitting on the sidelines today,” said APH President Craig Meador. “Learning equality is not just about providing the same information that people who are sighted have. It’s about providing the same social, historical and other experiences that everyone else is enjoying.”

The prototype Graphiti used at the eclipse viewing is currently the only one in existence, but APH hopes to have them ready for sale next year. “Ideally we would have had units for everyone around the world today,” said Larry Skutchan, one of the Graphiti’s developers. “We are excited to see how Graphiti will be used in science classrooms, business workplaces, museums … the possibilities are endless. Just imagine where this technology will be by the time of the next eclipse!”

Learn more about Graphiti and the work of the American Printing House for the Blind at: www.aph.org

About APH – The American Printing House for the Blind

The American Printing House for the Blind, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in, Louisville, Kentucky, is the world’s largest company devoted solely to creating educational, workplace, and independent living products and services for people who are blind and visually impaired.

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