Mars 2020 Perseverance and finding 3-D models

This morning I streamed the Mars 2020 Perseverance launch on NASA TV. Just after lift off, they asked one of the scientists to explain the equipment that was attached to the rover, and she pointed out the drilling arm on a 3D-printed replica. Naturally, I wondered how the public, and especially blind people, might be able to get their hands on such a replica.

I collect links to online repositories that store the computer files necessary to produce 3D-printed replicas, so I directed my browser to NASA’s list of printable models.

I sorted the models alphabetically by name and I found the M2020 Model Rover Perseverance. This page includes links to download the print-ready .STL files and assembly directions to create a model of the Perseverance rover.

The NASA repository also includes files for a small helicopter called Ingenuity that is attached to the Perseverance  rover.  It will be flown on MARS sometime after landing in February 2021.

I’m glad that NASA made files available so that anyone with access to a 3-D printer can produce replicas. I realize that not every blind person, or member of the public generally, has access to a 3D printer, and that may be the subject of a future post.

accessibility exhibits publications



During the 2019-2020 academic year, I consulted with the 2020 University of Maryland, College Park graphic design cohort that researched and created an exhibit about disability, ableism, and the benefits of universal design. Ableism is the discrimination against those with disabilities. Universal design counteracts ableism. Universal design is an approach to creating systems, spaces and objects that meet the needs of all people.

Originally designed as a multi-site, cross-platform exhibition, due to the COVID-19 pandemic Redefine/ABLE: Challenging Inaccessibility is now an online experience that addresses diversity, inclusion and ableism. It seeks to engage audiences about the successes and challenges of persons with disabilities in Maryland and beyond.

The Covid-19 pandemic became a discussion topic for this exhibit. The project director and I wrote this essay examining the effects of post-pandemic responses on people with disabilities.

We also submitted this Q&A to another University of Maryland blog.

Additional content will be added to the Redefine/ABLE project website during July and August 2020. It will remain online after that date. I would like to thank the project team for their dedication to this project and their determination to display it virtually.

3D-printing accessibility exhibits publications

Creating Re-Usable Tactile Handouts

I’m pleased to announce publication of a guest post on the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) blog about creating tactile handouts. Special thanks go out to my co-authors, Ann Cunningham and Matt Gesualdi, for their contributions.

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating new norms that discourage touching all manner of objects to curtail the spread of the virus. However, when public spaces reopen, understandable concern about disease transmission may lead museums to prohibit tactile exploration of objects, creating an unintended access barrier for people who are blind. We imagine a scenario where visitors could borrow tactile handouts, use them for reference as they tour an exhibit, and then return them to the museum for treatment and later re-use.

Read more on the AAM website.