Wow! Being able to witness in person a unique and once-in- a-lifetime experiences, leavesStudents view eclipse with enlarged NASA map in background impressions that are sometimes hard to describe. Yet, when the event is largely visual and one is blind, description through the use of other senses besides the eyes becomes all important. The teachers and staff at Tennessee School for the Blind worked hard to ensure that when the darkness of the August 21st total solar eclipse came to Nashville, their students were not in the dark about what was taking place. The teachers were diligent in the classrooms providing hands-on models, knowledge and scenarios. With good resources and through the joint efforts of other great organizations, the students received the information and tools necessary to have a memorable once-in-a-lifetime event. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) supplied large tactual maps and charts allowing

the students to gain understanding haptically. Through touch they realized the size comparisons, positions, and the moon’s path of coverage for totality of darkness. The American Council of the Blind (ACB), along with the Mid-Tennessee Council of the Blind, and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC), collaborated to provide an audio “play by play” of the event. Blind and visually impaired people world-wide were given the opportunity to experience the eclipse as the event became a live hour-long program aired over ACB radio. Dr. Joel Snyder, director and host of "The Audio Description Project," an inititive on ABC, titled the production

NASA Eclipse Booklet Cover“A Total Eclipse-Audio Described!” The program offered a complete hour of fun, both in and out of the sun. Between interviews and guest appearances, music painted a colorful backdrop with songs such as “Ain’t Got No Sunshine,” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Blinded by the Light,” and “When the Sun Goes Down.” The “live event” portion of the program aired from TSB’s campus, taking place between 1:15 p.m. and 1:45 p.m.  Trained audio describer and Nashville-based Julia Cawthon described the eclipse moment by moment in vivid visual terms for the benefit of those listening. Julia who often describes Broadway plays for TPAC, viewed the event as a “performance in nature’s theatre.” The ACB broadcast is archived at ABC radio and available at: http://www.acbradio.org/

In anticipation of the event, and as part of their “Epic Eclipse Coverage”, NEWS 2 came to campus on the Wednesday preceding the event. Reporter Adam Snider went from classroom to classroom interviewing students and capturing video for a short story. Interviews were also granted to Superintendent Martin and Julia Cawthon, who was on campus doing a “run through” with TSB’s IT team. The story aired several times over the next few day and can be seen at: http://wkrn.com/2017/08/16/unique-broadcast-of-solar-eclipse-will-allow-the-blind-to-see-the-sun/

“I wondered how the school was going to allow us to view the eclipse,” said TSB senior Garrett Meeks. Moon partly covering the sun “But things were pretty organized and the eclipse was very cool. It was something the way it got dark like dusk,” he continued. “I even saw a bat flying around.”

Along with other visitors and guests, on campus was Deputy Commissioner of Education and friend of the school, Dr. Kathleen Airhart. Her   attendance was a welcomed pleasure. “The eclipse itself was spectacular,” she said. “But having the opportunity to view it through the eyes and ears of the TSB students made it especially memorable.” She went on, thanking Dr. Martin “for allowing me to join with the TSB faculty, staff, and students for this important once-in-a-lifetime event.”

TSB is grateful to all of the many people whose time and effort made the occasion memorable. Special thanks goes to Joel Snyder, Vanderbilt University, and the Adventure Science Center for their assistance in obtaining and providing the protective glasses. Their generosity allowed the students and staff to enjoy the eclipse without experiencing harm.