SCIVIS: About Us!

Photo, left to right: Jim Allan, Trina Britcher, Joan Treptow , and Dan Oates

Dan Oates

I am currently retired from the W. Va. Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (WVSDB), in Romney, W. Va. I hold a Master’s in Education, with past AER certifications as Teacher of the Visually Impaired, an Orientation and Mobility Instructor (COMS), and a Low Vision Therapist (CLVT).

During my time I worked as an Orientation and Mobility Instructor for 14 years and as an Outreach Specialist for 16 years. As an Outreach Specialist I coordinated a statewide program for blind and low vision infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and families.

In 1990, I was a chaperone on the first trip of blind and visually impaired students to attend Space Camp at the request of Edward O. Buckbee, Director of the U. S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. In 1994, I began coordinating the program and assisted in attracting students from other states, countries, and public schools. As of 2022, I remain as the only person to have attended Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students (SCIVIS) for all of the 32 years.

In 1993 and 1994, I chaperoned students from West Virginia to Russia for a space science exchange. I received a Fulbright Scholarship in 1998 to travel to Australia on a promotional tour for SCIVIS.

In 1996, I began volunteering on a limited basis for Space Camp’s Education Teacher Training Program at Space Camp. In 2000, I was hired as a crew trainer for the Teacher Training Program and continued in that position each summer until I retired in 2012 from my position in W. Va. at the school for the blind. I was then promoted to Manager of the Space Camp Teacher Training Program and remained in that summer position until 2018.

In 2007, I was honored with an induction into the Space Camp Hall of Fame in the inaugural class with Space Camp founders Edward Buckbee and Dr. Wernher von Braun. I have worked with NASA, the Challenger Centers, Space Center Houston, and other agencies as a consultant for programs for the blind and visually impaired. I served on the board of directors for eight years with the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH). I am an active member of the W. Va. Schools for the Deaf and Blind Foundation, the Fort Mill Ridge Foundation, historical local landmarks commission, and the local food pantry at my church. I am also the W. Va. Schools for the Deaf and the Blind school historian and preservationist.

I have promoted the SCIVIS program in many of the residential schools for the blind, state, and national conferences. I have also traveled to Australia, Russia, Ireland, and St. Lucia and promoted SCIVIS so students from those countries can attend.

I have volunteered at the Werhner von Braun Archives at the U. S. Space & Rocket Center. My primary function is to record the institutional knowledge of the Space Camp programs, which includes our Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students (SCIVIS) program. My thirty-three year history with the Center is the primary reason I have been asked to participate in this project.

SCIVIS continues to be a large part of my life, even 11 years after retirement. While not a science or math teacher, I have always been a science, math, and space nerd. My connection with Space Camp, 10 years after I was employed with the W. Va. Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, helped complete my “nerdiness”.

Trina Britcher

Trina Britcher graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, Special Education and Visual Impairments. She received a Master’s Degree from West Virginia University in Special Education with a specialization in Learning Disabilities.  Trina has taught children with blindness and visual impairments in West Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina for 40 years. Trina has also been involved in SCIVIS (Space Camp for the Blind and Visually Impaired Students) for over 20 years as a teacher chaperone and materials coordinator.  She has taught courses for Marshall University and West Virginia University in the area of literacy for students with visual impairments. She is presently an adjunct instructor with Marshall University.  Throughout her career she has acted as a mentor to new teachers and worked closely with the West Virginia Department of Education to assist with state policies, assessment and a variety of issues within the field.  Over the years, Trina has enjoyed helping to coordinate summer camp programs for students with blindness and visual impairments. She has presented at numerous national and international conferences as well as presented a teacher training in St. Lucia. A special project for Trina was helping to develop test questions and assisting with the Braille Challenge at the Braille Institute in Los Angeles, California. Trina was a participant in the International Teacher of the Year Space Camp program which gave her the opportunity to be a “camper” at the US Space and Rocket Center.  She was awarded the 2011 National Braille Challenge Teacher of the Year Award, the 2005 APH Scholar Award and a number of state recognitions in West Virginia.

Joan (Joanie) Treptow

As a second generation transcriber, and child of a blind parent, braille was a part of Joan Treptow’s daily life. Joan spent 40 years as a school transcriber, eventually running the Visually Impaired program for Washoe County School District in Nevada. She was not only in charge of transcribing and illustrating the testing and classroom materials in both braille and large print; she would also manage the other transcribers and their projects. She was directly responsible for secure delivery of all materials to the TVI and Classroom teachers. She is also the current Large Print specialist and a Past President for CTEBVI (California Transcribers and Educators of the Blind and Visually Impaired). Serving on the Board of Hope Braille, LLC; she keeps up to date on braille and keeps her skills sharp. She had long loved Space Camp, ;and has been on the SCIVIS team for over 20 years. She uses her skills in low-tech braille to make things at Space Camp more accessible to the SCIVIS visitors; making the braille labels for everything from the soda machines to the crew trainers’ ID tags!

Jim Allan

Jim Allan is the Accessibility Coordinator the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. He was the webmaster at the school for 20 years. Jim was an itinerant TVI in public schools for 10 years and an assistive technology specialist for 10 years. He has worked in the field of assistive technology and accessible information access for more than 40 years. Jim is committed to accessible web design; and, the development of accessible multimedia textbooks, online-learning materials, and assessment. 

Jim was an Invited Expert for the World Wide Web Consortium’s-Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C - WAI). His former roles in the WAI include: Chair of the User Agent Working Group that developed browser accessibility guidelines, Facilitator for the Low Vision Task Force, and member/contributor to many other working groups. He attended the University of Texas and has a PhD in Special Education.

Jim has been bringing students to SCIVIS for more than 25 years. He helped modify Space Camp to be accessible to visually impaired students. Jim was inducted into the Space Camp Hall of Fame in 2009. I earned my WINGS when I attended International Space Camp for Teachers in 2015.