HR Strange But True

Celestial Event Offers Unique Employee Engagement Experience—And Helps a Local Community

HRSBT recently reported on the predicted costs this year’s eclipse had on employers’ bottom line—roughly $694 million—and if you missed the path of totality during this year’s eclipse, fear not, the next one should be making its way into the United States on April 8, 2024.


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This will give you plenty of time to plan activities surrounding this celestial event and help increase your employees’ engagement. For one company, not only did it do a great job engaging its employees, but it also made a huge impact on a local community.

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) used this opportunity to engage its employees and teach the community something new. The APH is the world’s largest nonprofit organization responsible for educational, workplace, and independent living products and services for people who have visual impairments.  The company’s headquarters is located in Louisville, Kentucky, which was almost directly in the path of totality. The APH used this opportunity to test out a new device it’s been developing with Orbit Research. The device, called Graphiti, is a tactile graphics display that allows people with visual impairments to “see” a variety of on-screen graphics through touch.

According to a press release: “Graphiti represents a breakthrough in nonvisual access to graphical information. It allows students to access a wide variety of on-screen graphics by touch, including charts, drawings, floor plans, images, and photographs, through an array of moving pins. The most unique feature of Graphiti’s breakthrough technology is the variable height of each pin, which enables the display of topographical maps and other graphical elements such as grey shades and color represented as varying heights of pins that can be readily sensed by the user’s fingers.”

On the big day, the APH invited the Kentucky School for the Blind to come join its employees and “view” the eclipse. The vice president of HR says, “We had a Lunch and Learn that day for our employees and served Sun Chips, Moon Pies, and Sunny D. As the eclipse was peaking, we gave all our employees an extended break and we served ice cream for the really ‘cool’ event. It was a great day, enjoyed by the employees and the community.”

Not only was this a great way to make employees happy, but it also was a great way to give back to the community it serves. The APH says “the experience of ‘touching’ the sun, in real time, was a thrill. It also gave participants the opportunity to share in a worldwide event.”

“No one was sitting on the sidelines [that day],” said APH President Craig Meador. “Learning equality is not just about providing the same information that people who are sighted have. It’s about providing the same social, historical, and other experiences that everyone else is enjoying.” While Graphiti isn’t currently available, the APH does hope to start selling them next year, which means that by 2024, you, too, could offer the same experience to your workforce.

Melissa BlazejakMelissa Blazejak is a Senior Web Content Editor at BLR. She has written articles for and the HR Daily Advisor websites and is responsible for the day-to-day management of and She has been at BLR since 2014. She graduated with a BA of Science, specializing in Communication, from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2008. Most recently, she graduated in 2014 with a MS of Educational Technology.

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