In 2012, Hallmark debuted a movie that inspired and captured all those who watched it. In the movie, A Smile as Big as the Moon, a class of special education students who dream of going to Space Camp get their wish. After the film aired, a surge of interest in attending Space Camp flooded the website and consequently caused it to crash. Fortunately, this is a problem with a positive outcome because most of the people using the site were families of special needs children who were looking into the program, many of which were doing so for the very first time.
What a lot of families were not aware of is that U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL, has been offering many specialty programs for students with special needs, such as visual and hearing impairment, for quite some time. These programs include the same features as the typical Space Camp programs, but participants will also benefit from a presentation from blind and/or deaf NASA professionals about working in the space industry and all the latest technology like tactile Braille displays and synthetic speech for computers.
Space Camp has worked closely for years with many different organizations such as the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind to make this an inspirational and significant experience for all students. Two weeks before the students arrive for the Space Camp for Visually Impaired Students (SCI-VIS), the Space and Rocket Center technicians replace consoles in the shuttle simulators with Braille panels. Students will have access to large print text or closed circuit televisions with the text on them if that is what they need. SCI-VIS is a weeklong program that includes classes, mission simulations, and even diving in the neutral buoyancy tank, which simulates the experience of making repairs on the Space Station in zero gravity.While the students enjoy the exciting things Space Camp has to offer, they also appreciate the opportunity to be around similar kids from all over the country and around the world.
By allowing those with disabilities to enjoy the exhilarating opportunities that Space Camp brings, our society becomes more inclusive. Those of us who are not disabled take all that we can do for granted more than we think, but with programs that can easily include everyone, the experience has a whole new group that can enjoy it.
If you would like more information about Space Camp and their Special Programs, you can visit their website at www.spacecamp.com