How Ohio is helping the visually impaired enjoy April eclipse

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and Opportunities for Ohioans With Disabilities (OOD) are working together to make sure Ohioans can experience the April 8 solar eclipse, even if they cannot see.

“We know not everyone is able to see it like some of us can, so we’re trying to offer the opportunity for people to actually hear the eclipse as well,” ODNR spokesperson Lindsay Deering said.

Solar eclipse viewing events, watch parties in central Ohio

Devices called LightSound devices will be at all state parks and wildlife areas in the path of totality, according to Deering. They use sonification; as the amount of light hitting a sensor on them changes, the sound they play changes.

“This is such a neat device,” Deering said. “We are so excited to be able to offer it to so many Ohioans to experience the eclipse in a different way.”

Deering said those interested in using one of the devices will just have to talk to park staff on April 8.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many individuals to experience the solar eclipse, so we were thrilled when Director Mertz from ODNR reached out to us about partnering with us on this opportunity to make this experience available for individuals who are blind or have low vision,” OOD spokesperson Holly Leber said.

Ohio state parks preparing for total solar eclipse on April 8

Speakers can also be plugged into the devices so the experience can be shared.

“The more access and inclusion we can give people to something like a major event like the solar eclipse is really important and essential to helping everyone participate in as inclusive manner as possible in the event,” Katie Frederick, president of the American Council of the Blind of Ohio, said.

Frederick has been putting together a list of ways others who are blind or have low vision can experience the eclipse.

“Blindness is really all I’ve known,” she said. “I’ve not had an opportunity to see, but for me, the eclipse is still a really neat event and experience and I think it’s something that only happens once in a lifetime sort of thing.”

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