Find the latest recommendations by the Working Group… Solar Eclipse Special
posted on 17/08/2017

Hearing a Total Solar Eclipse – August 21 LIVE streaming
Wanda Diaz from the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) along with Rob Hart, Daniel Davis and Allyson Bieryla from Harvard University have developed an Arduino based device that will allow people to listen to the August 21 Total Solar Eclipse. This Arduino can detect the change in brightness and convert light to sound. The sound will be a higher pitch when there is more light and a lower pitch when the Moon is eclipsing the Sun. Instructions are included on how to build your own device. A live audio stream of the eclipse will be available here, on August 21, 2017.
Eclipse Soundscapes Project
On August 21, 2017, millions of people will view a total solar eclipse as it passes through the United States. The Eclipse Soundscapes Project delivers a multisensory experience of August 21 Total Solar Eclipse. The project, from NASA’s Heliophysics Education Consortium, will include audio descriptions of the eclipse in real time, recordings of the changing environmental sounds during the eclipse, and an interactive map app that will allow users to visualise the eclipse through touch. With these tools, the Eclipse Soundscapes team hopes to provide visually impaired individuals with a variety of resources to explore the eclipse on their own. [Source: Eclipse Soundscapes]


Find the latest recommendations by the Working Group…
posted on 18/07/2017

Microsoft’s new iPhone app narrates the world for blind people
Microsoft has released Seeing AI — a smartphone app that uses computer vision to describe the world for the visually impaired. With the app downloaded, the users can point their phone’s camera at a person and it’ll say who they are and how they’re feeling. They can also point it at a product and it’ll tell them what it is. All of this is done using artificial intelligence that runs locally on their phone. [Source: The Verge]
STEM Career Exploration Week
Week-long Career Exploration Lab Workshop in collaboration with the South Carolina Commission for the Blind, utilises 3D printer technology to help blind and visually impaired students age 15 to 18 explore STEM careers using tactile models and sonification techniques, and to introduce students to blind professional role models with successful STEM careers. You can find a PowerPoint PDF explaining the goals of the workshop and showing highlights from the week’s activities. Additionally, the team is also trying to find a community to share resources and expand their program and ideas.
Publications – Poster 
The Astronomy Astronomy Association group on accessibility and disability (WGAD) Year One – Highlights and Data Base Access
K.A. Knierman, J. A. Monkiewicz, A. Aarnio, W. Diaz Merced, B. Garcia, N.A. Murphy, WGAD/Access Astronomy Team
Using cosmic rays to listen for atmospheric parameters – We too may find new planetsDiaz-Merced, Wanda, SAAO (South African Astronomical Observatory), AASTCS5 Radio Exploration of Planetary Habitability, Proceedings of the conference 7-12 May 2017 in Palm Springs, CA., in Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, Vol. 49, No. 3, id.202.01

Find the latest recommendations by the Working Group…
posted on 08/06/2017

Learn sign language by translating written text to signs

This webpage is a teaching aid designed to make sign language accessible to everyone. Here you will find an international dictionary of the following national sign languages: Swedish, English (BSL), American English (ASL), German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Icelandic, Latvian, Polish, Czech, Japanese, Turkish. American Sign Language and baby signs are also included in this dictionary. This webpage is administered by the Non-Governmental and Non-Profit Organization European Sign Language Centre. Though the primary objective of the Centre is to make national sign languages available to people with hearing disabilities, the overall ambition is to make sign languages accessible to everyone. This project is an ongoing process of documenting national sign languages, we have come quite far, but much remains.
The project needs your assistance! If you want to support their work, including any ideas or thoughts that you wish to share, please contact the team at


More to the Planets than Meets the Eye

In ESA’s first event of its kind, members of the public have been invited to touch, taste and hear about life in the Universe in an immersive day of activities that are suitable for the sensory impaired. The event at ESA´s European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) near Madrid, on 5 June, is part of the activities of the Space Inclusive Network (SpaceIn), an initiative supported by ESA aiming at using science and technology to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion in space projects.


Find the latest recommendations by the Working Group…
posted on 26/05/2017

Gender Summit 10

From May 25 to 26, Tokyo hosted the Asia-Pacific Gender Summit 10 – “Better Science through Gender, Diversity and Inclusive Engagement”. In the summit participated 603 attendees from 23 countries and districts. The IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach team was present at the meeting and will share their report in the upcoming month.


Find the latest recommendations by the Working Group…
posted on 05/04/2017

Astronomy for All during GAM2017

For Global Astronomy Month (GAM) 2017, Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) are teaming up with our Working Group and have compiled a list of thirty resources to be highlighted during April.
People with special needs are often overlooked when planning outreach and educational activities and remain a group still frequently excluded from events. The thirty resources highlighted are a free, open source collection intended to support and facilitate the implementation of activities for people with disabilities. The selected best practices, programs, examples of activities, resources and activities guidelines are dedicated to helping outreach and education groups that aim to reach these particular audiences but need more support for doing it.



Find the latest recommendations by the Working Group…
posted on 02/03/2017

Students Partner with Professionals to Build New Software Tool

If intelligent life without sight exists on some distant planet in our galaxy, these lifeforms would still explore the universe; how? This is a guiding question for Innovators Developing Accessible Tools for Astronomy (IDATA), a new research initiative supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation – STEM + Computing Partnerships (STEM+C) Program.

Sign with Robert

A series of free short gifs with sign language words and expressions on general topics such as Education, People & Familly, Emergency & Disaster, Transportation & Travel, and much more (USA).

Commemorating the first female astronomer — Hypatia of Alexandria

Attention Hypatia fans around the world! Currently, 20 March is being petitioned as an ideal date to commemorate the first female astronomer — Hypatia of Alexandria. As the petition gains momentum — there are 40 participating countries overall, Uruguay, Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Chile having recently joined — the organisation is aiming to formalise a proposal to UNESCO so that on Hypatia Day we can globally celebrate Women in Science day.

Astronomía con todos los sentidos en el Planetario (in Spanish)

El universo cabe en una maleta. Los planetas, el Sol, las constelaciones, la Luna y otros cuerpos celestes hacen parte de Astronomía con Todos los Sentidos, un proyecto educativo itinerante para personas con discapacidad visual, creado por el Planetario de Medellín con el apoyo de la Office of Astronomy for Development -OAD- y la Unión Astronómica Internacional.


Find the latest recommendations by the Working Group…
posted on 17/02/2017


Today we celebrate #DayOfFacts and reinforce our commitment to the IAU’s mission to promote and safeguard the science of Astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. Our WG stands by this statement, supporting initiatives that can take Astronomy to everyone, independently of their ethnic origin, religion, gender, citizenship, special needs, language, political inclination and sexual orientation. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

Activities & Resources

The Fabric of the Universe – exploring the connection between dark matter and woven textiles.

Around the Web – Publications

The Fabric of the Universe: Exploring the cosmic web in DD prints and woven textiles 
by Benedikt Diemer and Isaac Facio

The O’Reilly Design Podcast
posted on 10/02/2017

The O’Reilly Design Podcast: Building bridges across disciplines, universal vs. inclusive design, and what playground design can teach us about inclusion.
by Mary Treseler, O’Reilly Media, Inc.


Star Map in Braille
posted on 03/02/2017

This 1-meter star map contains visible stars without a telescope for the southern hemisphere, represented according to their respective magnitude and the constellations can be identified from the printed names in Braille. The model was split in several pieces for a standard 20cmx20cm printer. 
This star map was made as a part of an installation by ITEDA Mendoza for popularization of Astronomy for Tecnopolis science fair in Argentina, supported by FOPAA (Fundación Observatorio Pierre Auger Argentina).
You can find more information here.



IAU’s reaction to the US executive order banning access from seven countries
posted on 01/02/2017

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is profoundly concerned by the impact the recent US executive order, and possible reactions to it from other countries, could have on international collaboration in astronomy and the mobility of scientists.
The IAU’s mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. The organisation currently counts 79 countries among its National Members and includes members from a further 19 countries. With 2841 professional astronomers in the IAU, the US is the country with the largest number of IAU members. Another 47 IAU members come from some of the seven countries affected by the recent executive order (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen), and hundreds more from other Muslim-majority countries.
The IAU considers that mobility restrictions imposed by any country, similar to the ones recently included in the US executive order, run counter to its mission, which is inspired by the principles of the International Council for Science (ICSU) on the Freedom in the Conduct of Science. Such restrictions can have a direct impact on the astronomical communities of countries at both ends of the ban, as well as astronomy as a whole.
In 2015 the IAU held its General Assembly in Honolulu, Hawai’i, USA, which hosted more than 3000 astronomers from 74 countries all over the world, including some of the seven countries concerned by the US executive order. The meeting had an estimated economic benefit of around $10–20 million on the state.
The IAU urges US officials to develop new screening measures to take into account the absolute necessity of mobility of scientists for the benefit of the USA, the rest of the world and science itself.
The IAU firmly opposes any discrimination based on factors such as ethnic origin, religion, citizenship, language, and political or other opinion and therefore expects US officials to not discriminate on the basis of religion.
The IAU hopes that such actions from a country do not trigger a chain reaction in other countries around the globe, which would severely damage the science of astronomy, and encourages everyone to value cooperation, tolerance and peace.
The IAU General Secretary Piero Benvenuti expressed the concerns of many in the international astronomical community when he said: “The IAU hopes that any new or existing limitations to the free circulation of world citizens, deemed necessary for security reasons, take into account the necessary mobility of astronomers as well as human rights at large. We want to continue organising scientific meetings in the United States of America as well as anywhere else in the world. Scientific progress benefits all humankind and exchange meetings should include scientists from all countries.”
(Link to the Announcement & more information)


Latest News
Find the latest recommendations by the Working Group. 
posted on 17/11/2016
Activities & Resources – Astronomy for the Blind and Visually Impaired  –
Tactile 3D models – Repository
Printable 3D Chandra Spacecraft
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in 3D printable form. (Credit: J.Doroshenko & NASA/CXC/SAO (CC3.0))
First 3D Supernova Remnant
A 3D model of Cassiopeia A, the 300-year old remains of a stellar explosion that blew a massive star apart, sending the stellar debris rushing into space at millions of miles per hour. (Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO)
Around the Web – Publications
Bell3D: An Audio-based Astronomy Education System for Visually-impaired Students
Jamie Ferguson, University of Aberdeen and University of Glasgow, Scotland
in Communicating Astronomy with the Public Journal Issue 20, page 35-39, August 2016
Around the Web – General Articles
Information and Resources on Color Vision Deficiency (CVD)
(retrieved from International Association for Geoscience Diversity)

Latest News
Find the latest recommendations by the Working Group. 
posted on 03/11/2016
Activities & Resources – Astronomy for the Blind and Visually Impaired  –
Tactile 3D models – Repository

Cosmic Sculpture – a 3D globe of the Cosmic Microwave Background

Around the Web
 – General Articles
Physicists make it possible to 3-D print your own baby Universe
(retrieved from

Zoom into Eta Carina Nebula and New 3D Model
(retrieved from
Around the Web – Publications
Cosmic sculpture: a new way to visualize the cosmic microwave background

Improving Accessibility of Astronomical Publications
Recommendations from the Working Group on Accessibility and Disability
posted on 20/10/2016
The Working Group on Accessibility and Disability of the American Astronomical Society (WGAD) has been working on a document, the Publication Accessibility WGAD, with the support of the Commission of Education and Development.
The working group hopes that this will initiate groundswell of inclusion in Astronomy everywhere in the world.
You can find the document here.
For further comments, please contact Dr. Wanda Diaz Merced.

Astronomy Beyond Common Senses Workshop in Colombia
posted on 30/09/2016
Dear friends,
As part of the IAU Commission C1 Astronomy Education and Development activities and in particular of the WG Astronomy for Equity and Inclusion, we have the pleasure to announce the first Workshop on Astronomy Beyond the Common Senses for Accessibility and Inclusion. This workshop is developed as part of the Latin American Regional IAU Meeting (LARIM) 2016, on October 8th, in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. This one-day meeting intends to be an interdisciplinary meeting with participation from astronomers, educators and disability specialists and provides a unique opportunity to develop new strategies, share experiences, and participate in workshops designed for audiences with disabilities.
The content will feature different programs such as resources for the blind and visually impaired, for educators that wish to expand their activities in formal and informal environments and disability experts that will share their best practices with the audience. The organizing committee especially encourages professional astronomers that wish to broaden their experience and learn how to incorporate a more disability accessible environment in their research teams and their professional work.
As invited speakers the workshop will welcome:
Nancy S. Brickhouse, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, “Beyond the Three-Body Problem.”
Jesse Leaman, from the University of Nevada At Reno, “iChair Intelligent Power Wheel Chair.”
Alexandra Holachek, from NASA ADS, “Web Accessibility and the Astrophysics Data System.”
Find more about the latest version of the program here.
The SOC & LOC of the Astronomy Beyond Common Senses Workshop

3rd Japanese symposium dedicated to Universal Design Astronomy
posted on 03/08/2016
Dear friends,

    On 24 to 26 of September 2016, Tokyo will host the 3rd Japanese symposium dedicated to Universal Design Astronomy. This year the Organizing Committee is proud to announce the broadening of the reach of the meeting, from national to international, welcoming all non-Japanese speaking participants with Japanese to English translated sessions and a full day dedicated to international programs.

    During this three-day event, the participants will not only watch and listen to lectures but will be part of a “sharing space” that will provide individual practice and experience. The underlying goal of the selected workshops is to make the participants exchange resources, activities, and ideas. After the symposium, each attendee will be able to implement activities with the resources learned and create new ones – this meeting will provide formal and informal educators with the know-how to disseminate astronomy to people with disabilities in their communities and make their activities more inclusive.

    The program includes special invited speakers Wanda Diaz Merced from the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development, South Africa, and Amelia Ortiz-Gil from the Astronomical Observatory of Valencia, Spain.

    On behalf of the Organizing Committee, we warmly invite you to join us in Tokyo and share your experiences with us and the over one hundred participants attending the symposium.

    You can find more about the program here.  

    Thank you and if you need any additional information, please contact us.
You can download the brochure of the Symposium in .pdf version here.
Best wishes,
Lina Canas, IAU OAO / NAOJ, Organizing Committee
Kumiko Usuda-Sato, NAOJ / IAU OAO, Organizing Committee
Shin Mineshige, Kyoto University, Chair Organizing Committee

This symposium is a result of the strong collaboration between the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), the IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach (OAO), and the Japanese Society for Education and Popularization of Astronomy (JASEPA). And is part of a series of workshops supported by the IAU Astronomy for Equity and Inclusion WG.  

Form to collect information on Equity and Inclusion activities in Astronomy – Guide for Blind users – v1.0, by Wanda Diaz-Merced
posted on 21/04/2016
The WG3 according to different areas of action has prepared a short Google questionnaire in order to find out more precisely which are your field(s) of expertise and interest. The form is here.
This form collecting information on activities for equity and inclusion aims to gather basic information of volunteers. This will facilitate to distribute the many tasks based on interest and experience.
If you’d like to share your activities in more detail with the working group, please go here.
I have navigated the page using the NonVisual Desktop Application NVDA (available on ), windows 10 operative system and google Chrome. If the user is using an android device, it is assumed the “talk Back Option” is on.
The user will be successful by using the default settings of NVDA to navigate the page.
Do not use the browsing mode ( NVDA + f7) as this page only has three links at the bottom which are Report abuse, Terms of Service, Aditional Terms links.
Use the tab button in NVDA to navigate and fill this form.
At opening the Screen Reader one listens the only heading on the page which reads “Astronomy for equity and inclusion”; it reads it twice. After the second time quickly press the tab button to land on the first field which is Name. (Note: Allowing NVDA to continue reading the items and doing the first tab some time later will not focus NVDA on the first item and the user will have to tab back to come to the first requested information which is Name.)
After writing the name continue tabbing to go to the Editing-fields, named Affiliation and Email. The form lands directly on the field where the user should enter the information. Tabbing will take the user to the next one.
After those fields, the user will find multiple choice questions. The NVDA screen reader will read the question and will focus on the first clickable choice. The screen reader will read it, the user may choose or not. Tabbing will take the user to the next clickable option of that question. The options in the question will finish when the screen reader finds an editable text field . The editable text field usually activates when the user clicks on the “other” option. Tabbing will take the user to the next multiple choice question. The user should find 3 of those questions and the last question is just an editable text field. That will be the end of the information required. Tabbing again will take the user to the submit button.
If the user was successful the screen reader will change focus to another page and will read the heading and that the response has been recorded.
It will provide the option to edit the response if desired.
Using browsing mode (NVDA + F7) will show the 3 links the page contains.

Registration is now open – First workshop on Astronomy Beyond the Common Senses for Accessibility and Inclusion
posted on 10/04/2016
You can now find the website for the “First workshop on Astronomy Beyond the Common Senses for Accessibility and Inclusion” here.
Here are some important deadlines:
February 22, 2016 – First announcement
March 30, 2016 – Registration opens
April 20, 2016 – Second announcement
June 15, 2016 – Abstract submission deadline
September 20, 2016 – Registration deadline
October 2-7, 2016 – LARIM
October 8, 2016 – Workshop Astronomy Beyond the Common Senses for Accessibility and Inclusion
October 9-14, 2016 – IAU Symposium 327

First Circular –  First workshop on Astronomy Beyond the Common Senses for Accessibility and Inclusion
posted on 23/02/2016
Dear IAU Members,
As part of the CC1 activities and in particular of the objectives of the WG3: Astronomy for Equity and Inclusion, we have the pleasure to announce the first workshop on Astronomy Beyond the Common Senses for Accessibility and Inclusion.  This is an interdisciplinary meeting with participation from astronomers, educators and disability specialists. This workshop provides an opportunity to develop new strategies, work toward specific objectives, share experiences, discuss recent applications, and participate in workshops that were developed for audiences with disabilities.
The workshop will be developed as part of the LARIM 2016, on October 8th, in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, and with the support from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede Bogotá-Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Cartagena, Parque Explora y Planetario de Medellín, Idartes – Planetario de Bogotá.
We have also the pleasure to have as chair of the SOC, the help of Wanda Diaz-Merced, a blind astronomer, associated member of the Division C.
Scientific Organizing Committee:
Wanda Díaz-Merced (OAD, South Africa))
Amelia Ortiz Univ. de Valencia, Spain)
Lina Canas (OAO, Japan)
Nicholas Murphy (SAO, USA)
Local Organizing Committee:
Santiago Vargas (Univ. Nacional de Colombia)
Angela Pérez (Parque Expora, Medellín, Colombia)
Javier Montoya (Univ. de Cartagenas, Colombia)
Mauricio Giraldo (Idartes, Planetario de Bogotá, Colombia)
Beatriz García (IAU-CC1, ITeDA, Argentina)
Preliminary Agenda
Invited talks and/or special activities
Dr. Wanda Diaz-Merced (OAD).
Dr. Nancy Brickhouse, Center for Astrophysics , Massachusetts.
Dr. Mathews Schneps, Laboratory of Visual Learning Massachusetts Institute of                                                Technology and University of Massachusetts Boston.
Dr. Cassandra Runyon, College of Charleston.
Parque Explora, Angela Pérez
Planetario Bogotá, Mauricio Giraldo
WG3, Lina Canas (OAO, Japan)
Light Beyond the Bulb, tactile images, , Kimberley Kowal Arcand
To be part of this event, please send a mail to the chairs of the Workshop:
Wanda Díaz-Merced (SOC):
Santiago Vargas (LOC):
The poster of the meeting can be download from:
High resolution