Tactile Collider is an initiative bringing the latest in accelerator physics research to the blind and visually impaired — as well as teachers and carers — around the UK. They organise workshops where visitors are able to explore the tactile representations of a particle accelerator by touching 3D printed and replicated building blocks, then walking around the venue to hear audio clues of particle events happening real time. It’s a wonderful, educational multi-sensory experience that can be appreciated with or without vision — and most importantly, very good fun.
With funding from an STFC Large Award, the team have worked with specialists and visual impairment consultants to develop special resources and activities that communicate the physics behind CERN’s Large Hadron Collider through touch and sound, such as models of LHC equipment. These models can be handled with specially designed tactile magnets where the magnetic poles can be felt, and a demonstration of acceleration using balls that make a noise. A successful pilot workshop was held at St Vincent’s School for Blind and Partially Sighted Children in Liverpool in October 2017, broadcast on radio 4’s In Touch Programme, and the Tactile Collider will go nationwide in 2018.