I’m always happy to hear about the promotion of diversity; but I’m especially excited when it concerns a favorite attraction of mine. Such is the case with the Georgia Aquarium, which will be kicking off their third annual Abilities Week with a three-day celebration next week. Slated to run from Feb. 4-6, the celebration will honor people with disabilities in an effort to foster an attitude of understanding and awareness. And there will be lots of fun things to see and do too; with keynote speakers, live entertainment and unique viewing opportunities scheduled throughout the run of the event.
But it’s not all fun and games, as the festival will also showcase local resources and opportunities available to people with disabilities. For example, Georgia Tech will highlight the future of assistive technology, while Briggs and Associates will focus on employment opportunities for people of all abilities.
And while I can’t promise that you’ll come away with a job offer, I can guarantee you that you’ll have a great time at the Georgia Aquarium. Opened in November 2005, this gift from the co-founder of The Home Depot features five galleries filled with underwater creatures from around the world. Highlights include an 800,000-gallon tank which houses the Beluga Whales in the Cold Water Quest gallery, and the acrylic tunnel and massive Whale Sharks in the Ocean Voyager gallery. And don’t miss the impressive jellies in the Tropical Diver gallery.
And although access is top-drawer at the aquarium year round, they’re making it even more accessible during Abilities Week. How? By adding some dedicated viewing spaces for wheelchair-users, for front row seating at the Cold Water Quest and Ocean Voyager galleries. They’ll be easy to spot too – just look for the blue spaces with the international access symbol. Think of them as indoor accessible parking spaces.
And if you can’t visit next week, you’ll be happy to know that they have plenty of accessible activities available year round. For example, since the aquarium has the largest Handicapped Scuba Association certified dive team in the world, they are able to accommodate guests of all abilities in their swim and dive emersion experience. Their Journey with Gentle Giants program starts out with an educational overview, is followed by a 30-minute swim with a Whale Shark and concludes with a behind the scenes aquarium tour. No diving experience is necessary, however if you’re certified you can dive instead of swim.
So if you can’t make it to the Georgia Aquarium next week, then make it next month or even next year. But do go, because it’s totally cool. And like I said, it’s also very accessible.