New e-book for visually impaired brings deep-space images to life through touch, sound

The kaleidoscopic Tarantula Nebula, as photographed from the Hubble Space Telescope, is the “star” of an e-book on stellar evolution aimed at students, ages 10-12, with visual impairments.

Reach for the Stars: Touch, Look, Listen, Learn is being developed specifically for the iPad®. It will be available in Apple’s iBooks® Store for free download during the summer of 2014. The book will be previewed at the Texas Computer Education Association 2014 Convention and Exposition, Feb. 3 in Austin, TX.

SAS is creating the e-book in partnership with Elena Sabbi, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute.

The e-book will consist of six chapters. Children with learning disabilities will be able to touch the audio icon on each screen to hear the text read to them. Students with visual impairments can access the book using the VoiceOver screen reader that is available on every iPad.

All of the content in the e-book supports read aloud, captioning, a compatibility option for people with hearing aids, compatibility with refreshable Braille displays, and a high-contrast feature for those with low vision.

SAS plans to release the e-book this summer. The Baltimore-based National Federation of the Blind, a project partner, will distribute it through its network of teachers and parents.