Shedd Aquarium wants to be a place accessible to everyone, but as with any of Chicago’s most popular world-class institutions, visits can be difficult to manage for families with special needs.
So Shedd is stepping up its accessibility. In addition to its Calm Waters special needs events outside regular hours and its free Sensory Friendly App available on iTunes and Google Play, it just unveiled a dedicated quiet room.
“We are hearing from more and more families and parents that they would love to visit Shedd but it is too difficult for a variety of reasons: We are a busy place, there’s a lot of sights and sounds and smells that could be really overwhelming. For those reasons, everything that we are doing just helps make a visit doable and certainly more enjoyable,” says Lynn Walsh, Shedd’s manager of accessibility and inclusion.
In the past, Shedd staff has found quiet corners for visitors who need to unwind, but Walsh says there has long been a need for a dedicated room.
The room, created as a calming room, prayer room or a place to recharge mobility devices, is available during peak times Thursdays-Sundays. It offers comfortable seating, adjustable lighting, weighted lap pad, sound reducing headphones and a prayer run. Find it in Shedd’s main lobby in the Northern Trust Suite.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Walsh says about Shedd’s accessibility efforts. “I wish all cultural organizations were at the same place, but everybody is stepping up.”
Stay informed about Shedd’s Calming Waters events here.
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