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ACTON - The Discovery Museum has announced 2018 dates of their Especially for Me series of free events for families with children with an autism spectrum disorder and/or with hearing or vision loss. Upcoming events will take place in the new unified and fully-accessible museum building.
The popular free program series began in 2010 to offer families an opportunity to play together when the museum is closed to the general public or capacity is limited in order to improve access. Because admission is free, families may come and go based on their child’s needs without concern for cost. Parents also have the chance to meet other families in similar circumstances, thereby reducing feelings of isolation often described by families dealing with special needs.
The expanded and completely renovated museum has twice the exhibit space of the original museum and includes significant new galleries for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) experiences including water; air; tinkering, design, and engineering; early brain development; math; light and color; and sound. It also includes reimagined visitor favorites from the original buildings including a Diner, Train Room, and Ship Room, along with other beloved exhibit components such as a giant amethyst and radar magnet.
The new building is ADA-compliant and all exhibits are accessible, designed according to Universal Design principles to be both aesthetically pleasing and useable by the widest possible range of people, without regards to age or ability. In combination with the museum’s Discovery Woods outdoor nature playscape and treehouse, the entire campus is now accessible.
Special resources appropriate to each event are provided. These may include noise-reducing headphones, audio-description devices, sensory-based programming, or American Sign Language (ASL) language facilitators. Additionally, food including gluten-free options is provided for all evening events.
The museum works with various local organizations to serve Especially for Me audiences, provide trainings for museum staff on topics of inclusion, and provide on-site resources as needed. These include the Boston Children’s Hospital Deaf & Hard of Hearing Program, Autism Alliance of MetroWest, Perkins School for the Blind, and Massachusetts Association of Parents of the Visually Impaired. This year, the museum has partnered with The Learning Center for the Deaf’s Center for Research and Training and Unstoppable Design Studio to provide staff trainings and programs related to accessible making and tinkering.
All Especially for Me events are free to attend, but preregistration is required. Dates and registration links can be found online at http://bit.ly/EspeciallyforMe.
Free Sensory-Friendly Afternoons (during public hours, but no school groups or birthday parties will be scheduled at this time) are on the following Tuesdays, 1:30 – 4:30pm: January 2, February 6, March 6, April 3, May 1, June 5, October 2, November 6, and December 4.
Free Autism-Friendly Evenings (closed to the public) are on the following evenings, 5:00 – 8:00pm: March 10, April 7, May 19, July 14, August 11, October 6, and November 17.
Free Evenings for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, & KODA Children (closed to the public) are on the following evenings, 5:00 – 8:00pm: March 24, April 28, July 28, and October 13.
Free Mornings for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, & KODA Infants and Toddlers (closed to the public) will take place 9:30am – 12:30pm on Monday, April 2 and Monday, October 1.
Free Visually Impaired Family Evenings (closed to the public) will take place 5:00 – 8:00pm on Saturday, May 5 and Saturday, November 3.
Especially for Me is part of the museum’s Open Door Connections program to provide opportunities for those who face a variety of barriers---financial, developmental, or cultural---to experience the Museum. Open Door Connections and Especially for Me are funded through grants provided by the The TJX Companies, Inc., Digital Federal Credit Union, Foundation, the Nathaniel and Elizabeth P. Stevens Foundation, the Schrafft Charitable Trust, Boston Bruins Foundation, Concord Carlisle Community Chest, NYPRO, Staples Foundation, and the Local Cultural Councils of Chelmsford, Clinton, Concord, Harvard, Lexington, Maynard, Newton, Shirley, Southborough, Tewksbury, Waltham, and Weston.
About Discovery Museum
Discovery Museum is a hands-on museum that blends science, nature, and play, inspiring families to explore and learn together. The museum and its Discovery Woods accessible outdoor nature playscape and 550-square-foot treehouse blend the best of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) learning on a beautiful 4.5-acre campus in Acton, MA, about 20 miles west of Boston. Originally founded in 1982, the museum was expanded and completely renovated in 2017. Hands-on, playful exhibits, developed by professional educators, inspire curiosity, exploration, and imagination, providing a fun and engaging experience for children and adults to discover their world together. Serving families and schools from towns throughout the region, the museum is devoted to informal education that enhances classroom learning. Discovery Museum is committed to accessibility, and is a proud recipient of the 2017 Massachusetts Commonwealth Award, the only winner in the Access category. For more information please visit www.discoveryacton.org. Discovery Museum is a community-supported non-profit organization.
Discovery Museum programming is supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.