Merseyside SLC ‘reach for the stars’
Merseyside Sight Loss Council is working with National Museums Liverpool to create opportunities for blind and partially sighted people to explore and enjoy the universe through sound and touch. As part of this work, Merseyside Sight Loss Council (SLC) was recently invited to ‘reach for the stars’ at the World Museum, Liverpool
They were invited by master’s student Megan Sanders, who is studying Art & Science at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). The aim was to explore galaxies, star formations and planets through touch and sound.
The museum is keen to find a non-visual way for blind and partially sighted (BPS) people to understand galaxies and star formations. As part of the session, SLC members took part in a workshop where they could create their own galaxies.
Members of Merseyside SLC with Megan, holding model planets during the workshop
“Astronomy can be magical. As a designer and an MA in Arts and Science student from LJMU, I’m interested in alternative perspectives and pushing boundaries. As a sighted person, I know that we take the sense of sight for granted. So, I asked myself, what if you could touch and feel dark matter, or hear a black hole.
“We’re taking the first steps towards creating an accessible planetarium at the World Museum and we want to open the universe to a new audience like never before.”
As part of the workshop, SLC members created their own galaxies by making indents on paper using small blunt pencils, within the boundaries of a stencil. These stencils were in the form of an outline of a galaxy or star constellation. By creating the raised bumps within these outlines, it was possible to feel an array of stars and galaxies.
Following the creative workshop, SLC members went into the planetarium where they listened to the ‘Audio Universe.’
SLC member, Naomi, Engagement Manager, Kelly Barton, and SLC member, Steve, creating paper galaxies during the workshop
Feedback from the workshop
Steven Bignall, Merseyside SLC member, said:
“Thank you to the World Museum and to Meghan for educating us and allowing us to witness the audio enhanced planetarium experience. It was so well put together and a delight to be a part of.”
Patrick Kiernan, Participation Facilitator for National Museums Liverpool, added:
“We would like to create opportunities for more people, especially those who may not consider a museum or planetarium as being for them, to explore and enjoy their place in the universe through sound, touch and voice.
“We have a long way to go, but hopefully with your help we will be able to create a worthwhile and enjoyable offer.”
Merseyside SLC has been working with National Museums Liverpool since the start of the year as part of our local project to make arts and culture accessible to BPS people. We look forward to continuing this work by giving input into new exhibitions. We will also be delivering vision awareness sessions to staff later this year.
Merseyside SLC members, with Megan Sanders, Phil Phillips, MBE, and Patrick Kienan, Participation Facilitator for National Museums, in the planetarium
About Sight Loss Councils
Sight Loss Councils are led by blind and partially sighted members and funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust. We advocate the needs of visually impaired people and work to improve access to goods and services at a local and national level.
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Publication date: 29 June 2023