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Friday, July 23, 2010

WAMC Radio Stories Highlight Program That Makes Space Camp Accessible to Students Who Are Blind


Contact: Nell Brady, Project Manager
1-800-323-9262, ext. 169

WAMC Radio Stories Highlight Program That Makes Space Camp Accessible to Students Who Are Blind

The latest addition to WAMC’s special radio series, Access to Advancement: An Audio Exploration of the National Effort to Increase the Role of Women with Disabilities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, features Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students (SCI-VIS). SCI-VIS is a weeklong camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL, that helps middle and high school students who are blind or who have low vision to learn about space and space-related technology. Part 1 of the new story-set examines the tools and practices that make the SCI-VIS program successful, and Part 2 presents the personal story of one student, Anneliese DeVyldere, who says that SCI-VIS led her to her career path.

Access to Advancement is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Research in Disabilities Education program to shed light on the opportunities for, and achievements of, women with disabilities in science fields. The series airs on WAMC’s The Best of Our Knowledge and 51% radio programs and it is available via Flash Audio and transcript at

In Part 1 of the SCI-VIS story, listeners learn about camp activities and about the tools that make them accessible to students with visual impairments. Campers experience simulated space missions using equipment that is adapted with Braille and large print, and computer programs that convert text to speech. But there is more to the camp’s success than adaptive equipment. SCI-VIS instills confidence in campers and develops leadership skills through challenging activities, such as scaling a 49-foot “Mars Climbing Wall.” The story captures this confidence with the voices of campers, such as eleven-year-old Deanna Greco. “I would like to be the first visually-impaired woman to go on the moon,” says Deanna. Deanna’s mother, Phyllis Greco, encourages her daughter to pursue this goal. “I just support Deanna in anything that she wants to do. Having the vision problem, I want to make sure that she’s clear that that shouldn’t stop her in anything that she wants to do.”

Part 2 of the SCI-VIS story-set introduces listeners to Anneliese DeVyldere, who attended SCI-VIS three times during high school and says the experience was transformative. “My world exploded, turned inside out, and grew exponentially. It was fabulous.” Anneliese’s interest in space began at age five, when her father stood with her in the yard to watch meteor showers. “Because I was legally blind, I was never able to see what he was talking about…I want to know what’s up there for myself. And so that was kind of the start.” Anneliese is now an honors student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a school known for its engineering and science programs and located next to the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. She explains that she heard about the University while attending SCI-VIS. And once she started learning about aerospace engineering at SCI-VIS, she knew she had to attend UAH, where she is now studying to become a technical writer, with the goal of writing about spacecraft design for NASA.

To learn more about Anneliese’s personal story and about the SCI-VIS program, visit You can join the Access to Advancement discussion on Facebook by going to and searching for “Women in Science ON THE AIR!” Or follow the series on Twitter at

Access to Advancement is made possible by support from the National Science Foundation Research in Disabilities Education program under grant number HRD-0833247.

WAMC Northeast Public Radio is a non-commercial, listener-supported public radio network broadcasting 24 hours a day to portions of seven New England and Middle Atlantic states. With 22 broadcast facilities, WAMC ranks among the most-listened-to public radio stations in the United States, with over 400,000 monthly listeners and more than 35,000 members. An affiliate of National Public Radio, American Public Media, and Public Radio International, WAMC is also one of the most prolific original producers of public-radio style programming in the nation, distributing a roster of award-winning segments and full-length news and information programs heard on more than 500 radio stations nationwide, on the Internet via audio on-demand, and in 177 countries via Armed Forces Radio. For more information, please visit

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