West Virginia Hunter Education Association

Special Needs Program

Special Needs Programs
Focusing on the Individual

The West Virginia Special Needs Hunter Education Course is open to the public regardless of ability or disability, but designed especially for individuals who are either hearing impaired/deaf, limb impaired or those who desire help with reading. Captioned videos, interpreters and other adaptive equipment are used to open the doors to anyone who wants to enjoy the outdoors, regardless of physical limitations.

What is so "Special" about this growing effort? The key principle is that we focus on each student, expending whatever effort is necessary to help them complete the course and also to help find adaptive equipment for those graduates and "post class" activities so they too can enjoy the outdoors.

We believe that enjoying the outdoors is a privilege. This is especially true for those with physical impairments. We value everyone as an individual. Our students range from 10 year olds to adults with many years of experience. As DNR Hunter Education Instructors, we felt the need to adapt our presentations to meet the needs of our diverse audience. The material is the same, but the delivery had to be modified. We also wanted to provide access to information for finding adaptive equipment and accessible facilities.

This effort is about caring for people, the love of teaching and especially enabling people to enjoy the great outdoors. It is about offering hope while raising community awareness about people who are less fortunate. Further, we are strongly promoting the use of personal flotation devices, hearing and eye protection, and physical conditioning.

This current effort was started by volunteers who saw the need to help the disabled achieve their dreamís. It now includes dozens of volunteer instructors.

The first pilot course for hearing impaired outside the Romney School for Deaf and Blind was conducted in Harrison County in June, 1999. All of the students graduated, with the lowest score being 90%. In August, the same team conducted the first ever course just for limb impaired, and the average score was again in the 90th percentile.

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