Merit Badges and Scouts with Disabilities

Boy Scout Requirements book“Scout Jay has serious vision impairment, but he’s really excited about the Astronomy Merit Badge. Can he earn it?”

Substitute any merit badge for “Astronomy” and you have a common but tricky question. The answer lies in the exact written requirements.¬†Scout Jay must meet the requirements exactly as written, no more and no less. If a disability prevents him from completing the requirements, then Jay must earn a different merit badge.

Modern merit badge requirements are often flexible to benefit Scouts with disabilities.¬†For example, most merit badges don’t explicitly require reading, writing, or speaking. Instead of saying “Write a list of the five most visible planets,” or “Recite a list of the five most visible planets,” the Astronomy requirement simply says “List the five most visible planets.” The form and structure of the list is not part of the requirement.

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Helping Scouts on the Trail to Eagle

Eagle Scout medalCommunication and Creativity are the Keys to Helping Scouts with Special Needs Advance Along the Trail to Eagle

The Advancement program is meant to be challenging for every Scout. Those challenges can become even larger for Scouts with special needs. Since the Guide to Advancement clearly states that all requirements have to be met, communication between the Scout, his parents, unit leaders, and even educators can lead to real success stories.

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