Accessibility at The Children’s Museum | EVERYONE Plays

Museums are known for drawing a diverse group of guests and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is no different, in fact, they arguably draw the most diverse audience. For this reason, The Children’s Museum takes great care in providing exhibits that everyone can engage with, including children and adults with disabilities.

Accessibility Options on ChildrensMuseum.org Website

The Children’s Museum website is AudioEye Certified, meaning it is in compliance with ADA, Sec 508 & AODA. When you visit the website, a figure appears in the bottom right corner that allows you to find your accessibility options. In addition to an audio player that will audibly navigate the site with you, there are toolbars for changing the colors, text size, disabling animation, and more.

Welcome to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Ramps, elevators, and accessible curb ramps are all a part of the design of most Indianapolis venues but guests at The Children’s Museum may not even notice the universal design concepts in play while all guests are playing together regardless of age or ability. Wheelchairs and strollers are available for rental on-site inside the entrance of the museum. The concierge desk is a fantastic place to stop for all museum guests.

The Concierge desk is located just beyond the atrium in front of the Chihuly artwork ramps. The Museum Concierge is a treasure chest of resources and information. Guests can borrow noise-reducing headphones and fidget toys and pick up a sensory map to identify where sensitive areas might be during your visit.

Accessible Design in Exhibits

Cabinetry in exhibits meets ADA standards and components of exhibits are created so that regardless of ability, guests can participate. For example, in a past exhibit, one component requires participants to run in place but in the same area, there’s an opportunity to complete the same exercise using your hands. The vintage Carousel in the Wishes and Dreams gallery has a ramp for wheelchair users or guests with mobility issues.

Videos throughout the exhibits have captions for guests who are deaf or hard of hearing and scripts are available for the formal programming that takes place in exhibits and galleries. Most notably, when a new performance opens in the Lilly theater an ASL interpreter is available for at least one performance and can often be arranged for your visit with at least two weeks’ notice. Also in the theaters, sound-enhancing devices are available for use. In fact, assistive listening devices are available to borrow for most presentations on-site.

Accessibility in Sports at The Children’s Museum

The Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience is likely one of the most accessible areas within the museum campus and this could be in part because it’s a brand new build and also because the sports world has adapted in ways that many of us don’t even realize.

Exciting adaptations are already a part of the larger sports world and the sports experience, including equipment for all ages, sizes, and abilities. In this 7.5 acre outdoor space,  you’ll find smaller goals, accessible fields, and adaptive equipment for the 12 different sports. The fields and arenas were created with materials and designs to allow for guests in wheelchairs and who use other medical aids to use them. Additionally, trained coaches are available to help participants in each sport. 

Adaptive equipment is available, including basketballs, soccer balls, and tennis balls for visitors who are blind or who have low vision. There are also brightly colored, soft material footballs, baseballs, and softballs with holes that are easier to grip. Adaptive fitness pad equipment and sports wheelchairs are available for use. Check-in with a coach for complimentary access to this equipment.

The Treehouse of Sports is a favorite place for children and adults to explore. This 60-foot towering play area has a lift to assist guests to the platform playing areas. If drag racing is your jam, the Drag Strip is the place to be. A lane is included that does not have a vehicle in it and is meant for children or adults in chairs to race against opponents on the strip.

Baseball Boundary Breakers is a new indoor exhibit in the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience. This exhibit highlights the movers and shakers of the baseball world, including those who overcame physical challenges and contributed to making baseball a more inclusive sport. Guests will be introduced to beep baseballs, learn about innovative ways to play ball, plus test their new pitching abilities in an interactive component.

Betsy Lynn, the Accessibility Coordinator for The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is always exploring new and exciting ways to make exhibitions accessible to directly serve people with disabilities. She has many ideas that she’s currently working on. Lucky for everyone, we all benefit from these improvements and opportunities to play together!

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