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Resource Center

Accessible PracticesBest PracticesExcerpts

The following excerpts from several access guides will help you see what others have done and consider how best to describe your institution.

General Information
Welcome | Ticket Policy | Eating Areas | Stores
Restrooms | Telephones | Water Fountains

Getting to a Museum
Public Transportation | Parking | Entrances

Getting Around a Museum
General Statement | Floor Plans | Special Routes | Wheelchairs

Accessibility Services at a Museum
Guide | Alternative Formats | Assistive Listening Devices, Captioning, Scripts | Audio Tour | Designated Time for People with Disabilities | Sign Language | Tactile Map

Programs at a Museum
Arranging Special Tours | Ongoing Programs

General Information


The Maryland Science Center staff and volunteers are dedicated to increasing the enjoyment of ALL of our visitors. Please feel free to ask for assistance from anyone wearing a red jacket or a Science Center name badge. —The Maryland Science Center

Once a visitor has entered the museum proper, all public areas are accessible. The admissions desk inside the front entrance is not accessible to visitors using wheelchairs. The information desk in the main hall is accessible. —Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian

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Ticket Policy

Tickets for patrons with visual impairments benefiting from this service and one guest are available at discounted rate. Additional tickets are available at the single ticket or group rate. Tickets for patrons who are deaf benefiting from this service and one guest are available at a discounted rate. Additional tickets are available at the single ticket or group discount. To order tickets for our audio-described and sign-interpreted performances, call ___. —Paper Mill Playhouse

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Eating Areas

The Galaxy Cafe, located in the Red Wing on the first floor, is wheelchair accessible and has accessible seating. —Museum of Science, Boston

A public Cafeteria, featuring a self-service food carousel, is located on the first floor. People in wheelchairs may require assistance from the cashier in reaching some items. The Court, a buffet-style restaurant, is located on the ground floor. It is reached by a flight of six steps or an elevator to the left of the steps. The serving counter is not accessible to people using wheelchairs. Visitors may ask the manager or wait staff for assistance. —National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian

The Mane Restaurant, which serves fast food and snacks year-round, is accessible. Carts and seasonal buildings provide additional food services depending on the time of year. Of these seasonal buildings, the Panda Cafe and the Pop Stop are accessible. The Panda Plaza Hot Dog Stand and the Valley Ice Reptile Ice facilities are not accessible. —National Zoological Park, Smithsonian

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The Museum Store, located in the Red Wing on the first floor, is wheelchair accessible. —Museum of Science, Boston

The Museum Shop is accessible. —Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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Accessible restrooms are located in the Blue Wing on the first floor, on the second floor of the Omni Theater, and in Computer Place. —Museum of Science, Boston

The public restrooms in the east and west wings of the first floor and in the west wing on the second floor are fully accessible. —National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian

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Near the accessible restrooms on the first floor of the southeast pavilion, there is a public TTY, and one public telephone has amplification. —Arts and Industries Building, Smithsonian

A public TDD phone is located off the Lobby of the Main Aquarium. All public phones are equipped with amplification mechanisms. —National Aquarium in Baltimore

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Water Fountains

Accessible fountains are located throughout the Museum. —Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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Getting to a Museum

Public Transportation

The Museum is 200 yards away from the MBTA's Science Park Station on the Lechmere Green Line. There is a flight of stairs between the station platform and walkways to the street. Buses are available to the Lechmere Station (contact the MBTA for routes and times). From there, Science Park station is one stop away. —Museum of Science, Boston

The Zoo is located halfway between two stops on the Red Line. If you are coming to the Zoo, use the Cleveland Park Station. The Connecticut Avenue entrance is approximately a quarter-mile south–and downhill–from the station. When leaving the Zoo, go approximately a quarter-mile south–and downhill–to the Woodley Park Zoo Station. —National Zoological Park, Smithsonian

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HP parking is available for visitors with handicapped parking identification in the paid parking lot and parking garage on Museum Road. Call for information regarding fees. —Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Paid parking is available in the garage near the elevator for visitors with disabilities. Additional space is allocated in the driveway in front of the Museum when designated spots in the garage are full, or when need arises. Visitors may also be dropped off and picked up at the Museum's main entrance. An automated entrance for wheelchair users is located at the front plaza. —Museum of Science, Boston

On Madison Drive, the National Park Service has designated three parking spaces for people with disabilities at the East end of the museum and two parking spaces in front of the museum. However, the Mall entrance from Madison Drive is not accessible. Visitors using wheelchairs must go around the building to the Constitution Avenue (north) entrance. On-street metered parking, restricted during rush hours, is available on Constitution Avenue. The city has not designated any parking spaces on Constitution Avenue for people with disabilities. —National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian

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The main entrance is reached by a flight of stairs. The front door is extremely heavy. The main hall of museum is reached by a flight of eight stairs. Special arrangements for entry of disabled visitors can be made with door security or reception by calling ___ or TTY ___, or by ringing the bell at the staff entrance, which is located 15 yards east of the main entrance. These special arrangements involve entry through a gate at the staff entrance. —Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian

There are five gateways to the Haupt Garden, three on the south side, along Independence Avenue, and two on the north side, for Jefferson Drive. The garden paths are paved with brick. —Enid A. Haupt Garden, Smithsonian

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Getting Around a Museum

General Statement

Over one-half of our historic buildings have wheelchair-accessible entrances; interior access varies. The Village's unpaved roads are generally firm and stable. Most roads are level, with steeper grades located near the Bullard Tavern, Glass Exhibit, and Herb Garden. Longer, more gradual grades are located near the Visitor Center and Freeman Farmhouse. —Old Sturbridge Village

The theatre permits barrier-free access for patrons using wheelchairs or walkers. On-grade entrances, elevators, railings, and wide doorways allow people to reach all areas of the theatre ... There are removable seats in the orchestra section and orchestra-level viewing sections for patrons in wheelchairs. —Paper Mill Playhouse

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Floor Plans

Floor Plans and Today's Programs, a daily schedule of events, are available at the Information Desk in the Main Lobby. —Museum of Science, Boston

Available in regular or large type at the Information Center. —Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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Special Routes

Upon exiting the elevation you will be moving against traffic. Allow plenty of time for careful navigation. The pebbled path is narrow, with some fairly steep inclines, and theatmosphere is warm and humid. You will need to make a U-turn at the end of the path and retrace your route to the exit. (South American Rain Forest and Hidden Life, Level 5) —The National Aquarium in Baltimore

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The museum makes every effort to have enough wheelchairs available. Although it is not possible to reserve a wheelchair for a given time, you will find wheelchairs stored in the West Wing lobby. Use of Museum wheelchairs is a free service. —Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Wheelchairs can be obtained, free of charge, with the deposit of a driver's license at the ground level entrance to the Main Aquarium. They are available in limited numbers, on a first-come, first-serve basis, for use inside the Aquarium. —National Aquarium of Baltimore

A limited number of wheelchairs are available for loan, free of charge. Please inquire at the box office. —Paper Mill Playhouse

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Accessibility Services at a Museum


For your convenience a Guide to Access and a Braille information guide are available at the Visitor Reception Center. —Mystic Seaport

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Alternative Formats

A variety of free preprinted materials are available, including the Smithsonian Welcome brochure ... The English version is available in large print, or audiocassette, and in Braille. The brochure Smithsonian Access is also available in large print, audiocassette, and Braille. —Smithsonian Institution Building

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Assistive Listening Devices, Captioning, and Scripts

The Einstein Planetarium and Langley Theater are equipped with infrared heat systems that provide assistive audio and visual description. Headsets are available inside the Planetarium. Printed scripts of IMAX films shown in the Langley Theater are available in the theater lobby. —National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian

The Mugar Omni Theater offers sound amplification and a descriptive narration for selected films for visitors who are hard of hearing and visitors who are vision impaired. These infrared headsets are available from an usher at the Omni Theater entrance upon request. Scripts are also available. —Museum of Science, Boston

A captioning system and an FM assistive listening system are available in the Planetarium for visitors who are deaf and hard of hearing. Notify the planetarium usher to request a system. Scripts are also available. —Museum of Science, Boston

Scripts for public presentations are available at information desks on lobby levels. These include the dolphin show, the Windows on the Wild exhibit in the Marine Mammal Pavilion's Exploration Station, and animal feeding demonstrations. —National Aquarium in Baltimore

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Audio Tour

Audio Tours are available in the Main Aquarium at the coat/stroller check. —National Aquarium in Baltimore

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Designated Time for Visitors with Disabilities

Avoid the crowds by visiting on the first Sunday of the month. Our First Sundays program for visitors with special needs allows you and your guests to enter the Aquarium 30 minutes before the Aquarium opens to the general public. —National Aquarium in Baltimore

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Sign Language

Available April through December on the third Saturday of the month, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. To request sign language at other times, call ___ (voice), or ___ (TTY). Please give us at least two weeks notice. —Old Sturbridge Village

Visitors may arrange for sign language, oral, or cued speech interpreters by calling ___ (voice). Two weeks advance notice is required. —Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian

ASL interpretation is provided on the second Saturday of every month of three regularly scheduled events, including film, theater, and science demonstrations. —Museum of Science, Boston

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Tactile Map

There is a standing tactile model of the Mall area, labeled in Braille. —Smithsonian Institution Building

Touching zones are located at the Children's Cove (the North Atlantic to the Pacific Tide Pools) in the Main Aquarium and the Discovery Room in the Marine Mammal Pavilion. In the Main Aquarium, at the coat/stroller check a "Touch Bag" of tactile items is available. —National Aquarium in Baltimore

A portable raised-line map of the Mall area is available at the information desk. —Smithsonian, Museums on the Mall

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Programs at a Museum

Arranging Special Tours

Group reservations and guided tours are available for special needs audiences through our Museum Education Department. To receive additional information about these facilities, leave your name and mailing address with us. —Mystic Seaport

Visitors may call ___ to find out about existing programs to arrange special tours. Two weeks advance notice is preferred. —National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian

Prearranged introductory and specialized tours for visitors with various disabilities are given by docents (museum guides) Monday through Thursday at 10 and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Call ___ (voice) and ___ (TTY) three weeks in advance. The TTY will take messages. Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian

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Ongoing Programs

An interpreter for the hearing impaired is available every third Saturday of the month. —Mystic Seaport

"Sensory Seminars" are offered for three performances of each musical and play, and requested children's theater productions. These pre-performance seminars (1½ hours prior to an audio described performance) allow patrons to feel props, set pieces, and costumes in order to give them a better understanding of a character's body type and personality, the spatial relationship of the set, and the time period of the production. Please notify the Box Office that you wish to attend the "sensory seminar" when you purchase your ticket. —Paper Mill Playhouse

"A Feeling for Form" This program is designed to be of interest to visually impaired and blind visitors. Tactile introduction to selected objects in the Museum's collections is provided by trained staff and volunteers. —Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

"People and Places" (Teenagers and Adults). An introductory experience for adults, designed to be of special interest to organizations serving adults with developmental disabilities and mental illness. —Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


This web site is not intended to offer legal, architectural, engineering, or similar professional advice. Refer specific questions to an attorney or an ADA authority.

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