Credit: Brooklyn Botanic Garden
New York State is home to thousands of incredible attractions that satisfy any interest, many of which have accessibility features for visitors with disabilities, including programs specifically designed for travelers who are blind or have low vision. A number of cultural institutions are also offering live and taped accessible virtual events with audio descriptions and other accessibility features.
Remember to social distance and wear a mask as required by state guidelines. Call ahead and check websites and social media to make sure attractions are open and available.
Laugh Out Loud at the National Comedy Center (Chautauqua-Allegheny)
Everyone loves to laugh! The National Comedy Center ensures that comedy fans of all abilities get the joke thanks to features like large print versions of exhibit labels and mural text and an audio guide that reads all printed text and audio descriptions of select spaces in the museum. Additionally, museum staff are available to accompany visitors who are blind or have low vision and provide additional description and assistance with interactive screen-based exhibits. To request this service, please allow three weeks advance notice and call the museum at 716-484-2222 or email email@example.com.
Brooklyn Botanic Gardens (New York City)
Credit: Lee Patrick
Did you know that New York is home to the first garden in the United States designed for visitors with low vision? Created in 1955, the Alice Recknagel Ireys Fragrance Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens allows visitors to touch and smell plants that were selected for their tactile qualities and scent (all nontoxic), such as the Lanterna camera flower (pictured). A metal railing with Braille labels helps guide visitors and identifies the plants.
Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Lessons at Gore Mountain (Adirondacks)
Gore Mountain offers adaptive one-on-one ski and snowboard lessons with staff trained to coach visitors who are blind or have low vision at all ability levels, from snow bunnies to serious athletes! Reservations are required so you can be matched with the best instructor and lesson for your needs.
Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester (Finger Lakes)
The Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester features 5,000 years of art history on a 14-acre campus. Blind visitors can schedule a touch tour of select works in the collection by contacting Chelsea Anderson or call 585-276-8971. All visitors can touch the artwork in the Centennial Sculpture Park and listen to recorded poetry and stories on their personal mobile devices in the adjoining Poets Walk and Story Walk. Audio descriptions of selected works of art in the Gallery’s collection are also available on the museum’s website.
National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House (Finger Lakes)
It was at her Rochester home that legendary civil rights leader Susan B. Anthony was arrested for voting while being female in 1872. Today, visitors can learn all about the life and times of this Women’s Rights pioneer through docent-guided tours. For visitors who have low vision, the museum has a selection of objects that can be explored through touch. Advance notice is appreciated but not required.
Sagamore Hill National Historic Site (Long Island)
Known as the “Summer White House,” Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay on the North Shore of Long Island was the home of Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, from 1885 until his death in 1919. The National Parks Service offers an eight-stop audio cell phone tour of the grounds that can be accessed by dialing 516-502-0044. Visitor information brochures are also available in braille at the Old Orchard Museum & Visitor Center.
The Tenement Museum (NYC)
The Tenement Museum is dedicated to the history of New York’s rich history as a haven for immigrants and refugees the world over through tours of Lower East Side apartments that housed immigrant families between the 1860s and 1930s. The Museum offers monthly verbal description tours via Zoom. To register for a virtual tour, please contact Julia Mushlako. Voice Phone: 646-518-3041 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who would like to visit in-person can take advantage of discounted entry and special $65 memberships for visitors with disabilities, as well as free entry to care partners. Please call or email our Education Specialist for Access at 646-518-3038 or email@example.com to receive this discount and/or free entry for a care partner. For a discounted membership, please call our membership line 646-518-3007.
The Noguchi Museum (NYC)
Dedicated to the art of sculptor Isamu Noguchi, the Noguchi Museum is now offering “Seen and Unseen,” a monthly series of virtual tours for adults who are blind or have low vision. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Free admission to the museum’s physical collection is offered to people with disabilities with ID. Touch Tours of select works from the permanent collection are available by appointment with at least three weeks’ advance notice. These tours include explorations of original works of art using gloves, sensory experiences, and tactile diagrams. Tour guides provide detailed verbal descriptions and contextual information. To schedule a tour free of charge, email email@example.com or call 718.204.7088 ext 203.
The Museum of Modern Art (NYC)
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is one of the top museums in the world dedicated to modern art, hosting some of the most important artwork created since the late 19th century. MoMA offers art lovers with vision disabilities audio described virtual tours, as well as a host of programs for visitors with disabilities who wish to go to the museum in NYC. To learn more, visit the MoMA website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Poster House (NYC)
The first museum in the United States dedicated exclusively to poster art, Poster House hosts monthly Remote Vibrant Verbal Description Tours hosted by the museum’s Chief Curator, who is trained in the art of verbal description, and learn more about the history of printed posters. For more information and to sign up for these events, email email@example.com or call 917-722-2439 x413 to sign up for these events.
With a rich history of welcoming visitors with disabilities, New York’s most iconic art museum offers extensive programming for visitors who are blind or partially sighted, including audio described virtual tours. More information can be found on the Met’s website or on the Met Access Facebook page.
Guggenheim Museum (NYC)
With a collection that includes thousands of masterpieces housed in a UNESCO World Heritage site building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Guggenheim Museum is making its art available and accessible online with a series of virtual verbal description tours. Learn more on the Guggenheim’s website or contact them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 212-360-4355.
Not a Zoomer? No problem! The Whitney Museum offers audio described tours of its impressive collection of 20th and 21st century American art via phone conference once a month. For more information call 646-666-5574 or email email@example.com. Of course, you don’t have to wait for the monthly call to access pre-recorded audio guides on the Whitney website.
Performances may be on pause, but the iconic dance theater’s signature piece, ‘Revelations,’ is available on their YouTube Channel with audio description for a limited time. ‘Revelations’ pays homage to and reflects African-American cultural heritage through the power of dance.
Thanks to the Theater Development Fund (TDF), audio description is available at select Broadway performances. Some Audio Described performances also include a touch tour of the set for blind or low vision audience members before the show. To be notified of these performances and to purchase tickets, apply for a free TDF Accessibility Membership.
New Victory Theater (NYC)
An off-Broadway institution focused on family-friendly live theater and dance, the New Victory Theater’s recorded dance performances feature New York City’s most exciting dance companies and at-home activities guided by Teaching Artists. The videos are recommended for children aged 8 and up, and each chapter is audio described.
Been to a place that should be on this list? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!