An accessible digital project to help connect users – particularly those who are blind, have low vision, or have different learning needs – with the science of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory which was launched in January 2021. The project provides verbal descriptions of high energy astrophysics data (primarily images and data-driven movies or sonifications, as well as illustrations when required) when they are released. The information is provided in both text and audio formats and used as alternative texts for web and social media platforms. The audio recordings have been concatenated into a podcast XML feed after obtaining user feedback. Link to Chandra Visual Descriptions Podcasts.
This project was created with J.J. Hunt and Christine Malec (subject matter experts in science communication, verbal description and/or the blind and low vision communities), Chandra visualization scientist Dr. Kimberly Arcand and Chandra press scientist and astrophysicist Dr. Peter Edmonds. These user-tested materials have been informing how other Chandra captions or descriptions for non-experts are written for overall improvement to accessibility and inclusion.
To learn more, read the Visual Descriptions of Chandra Data/Images: Lessons learned/best practices handout.
By Kimberly Arcand