Title: The Tactile Universe: Accessible astrophysics public
engagement with the vision impaired community.
Abstract: Astronomy is a topic that engages and inspires a wide range of audiences around the world, but blind and vision impaired people can often find it difficult to engage with the subject due to its very visual nature. The Tactile Universe is an award winning public engagement project founded in 2016 and based at the ICG which is opening up current topics in astrophysics research to blind and vision impaired people through accessible resources. We will discuss the project’s main resource (3D printable tactile images of galaxies), what the project is doing to inspire young people with vision impairments to engage with topics in STEM, as well as outlining how the project has expanded across the UK and internationally through resource sharing and presenter training workshops. Lastly, we’ll share how involving the vision impaired community in the development and delivery of the Tactile Universe has shaped the project and its resources in unique ways, share the lessons the project team have learnt along the way and discuss the project’s future and shifting our focus from galaxies to gravitational waves. For those attending in person, we’ll also have some of our tactile models on hand for you to experience for yourselves during and after the talk.