The concept of Space Camp for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children was pioneered in 1986 by Dr. John Tiffany, principal of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind in Talladega, Al. Dr. Tiffany asked John Thomas Wheeler who worked at NASA if he would be interested in speaking to the students about NASA and science related jobs, he accepted. The first group to attend Deaf Space Camp had 21 deaf and hard of hearing students from around the United States. In the fall of 1997, Amy Newland, who taught at the Western PA School for the Deaf in Pittsburgh PA, independently took over the coordination of the program as the director. The director of this program has been on a volunteer basis since it's conception.
Since 1987 there have been over 2,000 students and staff, from the United States and Internationally, who have attended the program Space Camp/Aviation Challenge for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
After taking over the program in 1996/1997 school year, Amy would receive many calls asking for scholarships or some kind of assistance for children/students to attend this program. In the fall of 1999 Amy Newland and James "Doc" Mendelson founded Space and Beyond
, a competely volunteer organization. In 2000 the first annual Space and Beyond fund raiser was held at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh PA. Working with a team of dedicated volunteers (flight crew) and the Pittsburgh community the event has been a success. Since 2000, the fund raiser has become an annual event, raising money to provide deaf and hard of hearing children a full scholarship (travel and tuition) to attend Space Camp and Aviation Challenge in Huntsville, Alabama.
In compliance with ADA we work with Deaf Access, Inc. run by Frances Smallwood in Huntsville Alabama. Certified/qualified ASL interpreters work with the various teams all week long to provide equal access to everyone!
"Space Camp" celebrated it's 25th year of providing an enriching and challenging experiences for Deaf and Hard of hearing children in 2011.
Dr. John Tiffany (Founder of Deaf Space Camp), Amy Newland (Deaf Space Camp director), Mike Flachbart (VP of Center Operations/Space Camp)October 2013..
It is with a heavy heart that we say good-bye to the founder of Deaf Space Camp - Dr. John Tiffany...God Speed my friend it has been a pleasure flying with you!! Thoughts are going out to the Tiffany family.