Special Needs Programs
Port Discovery welcomes guests of all abilities to experience our Museum, interactive exhibits and learning through play. A variety of services and programs are available for individuals and children with disabilities and special needs.
Designated Days for Children with Special Needs
Every year, Port Discovery sets aside two designed weeks for children with special needs and their caretakers as part of the museum’s dedication to inclusive learning. The Museum staff lowers volume, sound effects, and l hts, so that children with physical and cognitive abilities can truly enjoy the museum experience. Activities are designed for children with special needs, but all children are encouraged to join this fun-filled week. Children with IEP’s are welcome at this week’s events.
The next Discovery Week will be hosted November 7th through 10th, 2017. (Link to blog article)
Discover Me Days are scattered throughout the school year to provide additional opportunities for children with special needs. Children are free to explore the Museum in the modified environment described in the first paragraph. Any children with IEP’s are welcome, and all ages are welcome. Discover Me Days Generally run from October through February. Various individual and group prices are available. Call 410-864-2664 for more information.
Families of children with special needs are invited to enjoy a day of play in the Museum an hour before we open to the public and enjoy a fun-filled day featuring interactive exhibits and programs. Museum admission is $7 per person (children under 2 are free) but reservations are required. To reserve your space, call the reservation hotline at 410.864.2669. Space is limited and available on a first-come, first served basis. There is a limit of 6 tickets per family.
Port Discovery's exhibits and learning environments provide unique opportunities for children with special needs and their caregivers. We incorporate universal design principles throughout programs and exhibits, ensuring that children at different developmental levels can access each area. Port Discovery's exhibits support children (and their caregivers) as they experiment with environments that replicate real-life settings. This hands-on learning prepares them for future experiences such as going to school, eating at a restaurant or visiting other educational and cultural institutions. We encourage you to visit Port Discovery, where children of all abilities and ages are encouraged and welcomed to learn and play in a setting that is welcoming and inclusive.
Visitors may be dropped off near our front entrance via the circular driveway located at the front of the Museum (35 Market Place, Baltimore, MD). The nearest parking garage, Harbor Park Garage, is located directly next to the Museum. Also, visitors with disability license plates or placards displayed are entitled to park at a meter for free for double the allotted time printed on the face of the meter (not to exceed four hours).
Service Animals are welcomed at Port Discovery Children's Museum.
All restrooms have wheelchair-accessible stalls. There are family restrooms on the first floor of the Museum near PD Presents and the Royal Farms Convenience Store and Fill'er Up Station and on the second floor of the Museum in the Tot Trails exhibit.
First aid is available in Port Discovery's Security office, and staff are trained to provide assistance in the event of an emergency or building evacuation.
Award-Winning Serial Programs for Children with Special Needs
Port Discovery Children's Museum is the proud recipient of the 2009 MetLife Foundation and Association of Children's Museums Promising Practice Award. Established in 1999, the award provides recognition and inspiration for children's museums to develop programs that are inclusive, meet community needs, encourage community partnerships and promote life-long learning. Port Discovery received the award for its community partnership with PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs, an affiliate of Kennedy Krieger Institute. This unique partnership provides high quality, experiential programming for families from under served communities that have children with special needs who often hesitate to visit community settings such as museums. By providing therapeutic services at Port Discovery, families of children with special needs enjoy the Museum and translate their experiences to other community venues. Port Discovery's partnership with PACT combines the best of what a children's museum and a social service organization have to offer.
"We've seen tremendous progress in the children and families who participated in these groups. This has opened up a whole new world for our families by discovering a great resource in Port Discovery. This partnership reinforced the need for children's museums throughout the country to implement innovative practices in serving children of all abilities and their families." - Audrey Leviton, Executive Director of PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs
Thank you to Port Discovery's Special Needs Program Partners:
- PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs, an affiliate of Kennedy Krieger
- Abilities Network/Project ACT
- Astro Events
- University of MD College Park
- Walters Art Museum
- National Federation of the Blind
- Kennedy Krieger
On our community arts project collaborations with artist Gilda Oliver and G.W. McMechen 177 school in Baltimore.