Last month, in the spirit of the holiday season, we highlighted accessible gifts. Now, we’re going to explore accessible experiences people can enjoy throughout the New Year.
“Inclusive, No-Fear Fun”
With rental wheelchairs, ramps, a sensory map and adaptive equipment — to name just a few features — The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has long been one of our state’s most accessible, inclusive destinations. In 2024, it will be even further tailored to people with disabilities across all ages.
“The first Museum My Way event of 2024 will be March 12,” said Accessibility Manager Betsy Lynn. “This is a special event that gives visitors with disabilities and/or sensory sensitivities the opportunity to experience the museum in a new way. Families and groups of all abilities are welcome to play and learn together.”
During these events, the museum will accommodate sensory sensitivities by limiting visitor capacity, lowering the volume of music in certain exhibits, providing a dedicated quiet area, adjusting lighting levels, etc.
Another new feature of the museum, which visitors can experience now through February 11, is the WinterFaire exhibit — an indoor winter wonderland with a “frozen” fountain, carnival games and plenty of other activities for participants of varying abilities.
“The Slippery Slope Race features a snowboard and a snow saucer so visitors with different mobility abilities can choose which works best for them,” Lynn said. “For blind or low-vision visitors, they can touch examples of the different materials used to make the items on display in the Artisans Corner, such as Vaishali Rastogi Sahni’s paper sculptures or Sofiya Inger’s silk canvas paintings.”
When the weather gets warmer next spring, families can enjoy the “inclusive, no-fear fun” of the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legend Experience. With adaptive equipment — such as soccer balls with built-in bells and tennis balls with streamers attached for visually impaired players — as well as encouraging, certified coaches and accessible features like the wheelchair lane on the racing drag strip, this is a great example of the museum’s commitment to accessibility.
Best of all, The Children’s Museum works directly with the community to improve accessibility, continually growing its network of Accessibility Advisor Families to test out working models or activity prototypes and consult on particular exhibits. (Families who are interested can sign up online to be part of the group.)
Destinations Dedicated to Accessibility
Conner Prairie: At this living history attraction, it’s apparent right up front that accessibility is a top priority. Free, accessible parking is available at the Welcome Center entrance. Inside, visitors can find complimentary wheelchairs on a first-come, first-served basis. And, as VisitIndy.com states, “Conner Prairie’s services to those on the autism spectrum are strong.” In addition to quiet spots throughout the venue, the website includes tips for visitors with autism or sensory sensitivity.
The Eiteljorg Museum: Dedicated to the art, history and diverse cultures of Native America and the West, the Eiteljorg is a completely accessible attraction whose galleries, gift shop, café and outdoor spaces fully accommodate visitors with disabilities. Reduced admission prices are provided to those with disabilities, and aides — including service animals — are admitted free of charge. Large-print maps, manual wheelchairs and canes are available for free as well.
Indiana Dunes National Park: In addition to a wheelchair-accessible beach mat, this park offers multiple motorized, all-terrain wheelchairs that allow visitors with limited mobility to access the sandy shores, explore the various nature trails and travel closer to the water. This is a prime example of a Hoosier destination that doesn’t seem accessible on the surface but is much more inclusive and accommodating than you’d imagine — a testament to increased consideration of accessibility in our state and the world at large.
Indiana Repertory Theatre: Like Conner Prairie, the IRT makes your visit accessible right off the bat. A courtesy wheelchair is available to transport guests from the curb outside straight to their seat in the auditorium. Accessible seating is available in both the OneAmerica Mainstage and the Upperstage, which offer audio-described and American Sign Language (ASL)-interpreted performances. Assisted Listening Devices (ALD) are also available free of charge. These personal headsets employ the IRT’s new sound system to amplify the performance for patrons with hearing impairment. Audience members can also enhance sound through a telecoil loop audio system, which connects directly to their hearing aids. Sensory-friendly performances are available for those with autism or other sensory sensitivities, and they come with guides to prepare audience members for lighting, sound effects, music, special effects and plot reveals that may not mesh well with their sensitivities.
Newfields: For blind or low-vision guests, the Touch & Audio Descriptive Tour allows them to still engage with the artwork. In terms of other accessibility features, complimentary indoor and outdoor wheelchairs are available, with ADA pathways marked on the museum campus map and Braille available in the “Garden for Everyone.”
These are just a few of the many accessible, inclusive adventures you can experience throughout the Hoosier State in the New Year. Get out there and have fun!