Disability Support

The University of Illinois at Springfield’s astronomy program developed the world’s first telescope designed for wheelchair access.

The telescope (pictured below in use) has a fixed-focal point, so observers using wheelchairs can point the telescope at any direction in the sky without moving. This arrangement eliminates any need to bend over, kneel down or climb a ladder that is typical with other telescopes.  The eyepiece is further arranged so that persons who have limited muscle control can comfortably use the instrument.  Sunday Night Star Parties are held for anyone who has trouble attending Friday Night Star Parties (four flights of stairs and a short ladder) and their families and friends.

We schedule these on an as-needed basis to accommodate people who have expressed interest. They are free and open to anyone who finds a regular Friday Night Star Party inaccessible to them.  Friends and families are also welcome to come with them.  To express interest or get more information please contact Professor John Martin (217-206-8342).

The late Jack Jenskow looks through the fixed-focal point telescope at the UIS Observatory.
Telescope for people with disabilities shown in use (Jack Jenskow pictured).