Museums and Gardens
The Art Institute provides a gallery audio guide with a comprehensive overview of each area. TacTiles kits represent works of art on handheld tactile tiles and include a color photograph and large-print description. Docent tours are also available with prior notice.
The Buehler Enabling Garden is a hands-on teaching garden accessible for everyone. The sensory garden offers the fragrances, sounds, colors, textures and movement of a variety of plants. Guided tours for 15 or more people are available for a fee. Guided tram tours are given mid-May through mid-October.
The Morton Arboretum offers narrated tram and guided walking tours for small groups of the 1,700-acre grounds with over 4,000 types of trees and shrubs, including a fragrance garden.
Audio-Described Theatre Performances
Many theaters offer accessible seating, audio-described performances, touch tours and discounted seats. The following venues offer this service for many of their performances. Contact your local theater to see if it offers this service.
312-977-1701, ext. 1259
Oak Brook Terrace, IL
Descriptive Video Services
The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 requires large networks, cable and satellite companies to provide 50 hours per calendar quarter of prime time and children’s audio-described programming.
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) website has excellent information explaining audio-described television, availability of programming and accessing audio description.
The American Foundation for the Blind has a search feature by ZIP code to find audio-described programming in your area, with links for how to access this feature on your TV.
The Audio Description Project initiative by the American Council of the Blind has extensive information on how to access audio-described TV and scheduling.
WTTW in Chicago offers selected public-television programs with audio description.
Blind Service Association (BSA) has a supper club that meets at a different restaurant each month.
Weekenders Club is a social group for people with vision loss, their family and friends.
Achilles International provides volunteer guides for runners with vision loss. Achilles hosts Sunday morning runs at Lake Shore Park in Chicago and opportunities to participate in mainstream running events.
BSA offers Tuesday and Thursday walking clubs, yoga classes and other health-education programs.
In partnership with west suburban special recreation associations.
Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association (NEDSRA)
The Chicago Area Tandem Society partners with the special recreation associations in the western suburbs to offer tandem bike rides with a sighted pilot at a variety of events, forest preserves and parks throughout the summer and fall.
This health and fitness facility was specifically created for people with physical disabilities. From routine exercise programs to competitive opportunities, RIC’s Fitness Center is equipped to help members reap the benefits of long-term wellness. Personal exercise programs are specially designed for each participant.
Burnham Park Sailing Center
Seasonal phone number: 312-747-7684
This program offers low-cost sailing lessons designed specifically for people with physical disabilities. All participants are allowed an able-bodied guest to accompany them during their lessons free of charge.
Blind and visually impaired skiers learn to use ski equipment and to ski with a sighted guide. As their skill level increases, skiers can navigate down the hill with a guide, using audio cues.
Ski for Light
Ski for Light is a cross-country skiing program for individuals with vision loss. Skiers are paired with a sighted guide who instructs them on proper technique while describing the surrounding environment. Ski locations are throughout the country.
Contact: John Herzog
Beep Baseball provides an opportunity to participate in a team sport. The Chicago Comets play and practice in the Oak Lawn area and travel throughout the country for tournament play. All players are blindfolded to level the playing field.
Contact: Fred Nickl
Bowlers with varying degrees of vision, as well as sighted bowlers, can take part in six leagues in the Chicago area. A guide rail is used to aid bowlers.
Drucker Center/Menomonee Judo Club
Paralympics Judo Training Center
312-664-4631 or 773-230-6070
Judo classes are customized for adults and children with vision loss. Individual instruction and small-group classes are available.
Lake Forest, IL
Sporting opportunities are offered for physically disabled, visually impaired and injured veterans. Ability level ranges from beginners all the way up to Paralympic training.
Travel and Adventure
Wilderness Inquiry provides outdoor adventures to people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Canoeing, rafting, kayaking, hiking and horseback riding trips are offered throughout North America and the world.
Oral Hull provides adventure programming for independent people with vision loss at its Oregon facility. Activities include whitewater rafting, wind surfing, rock climbing, hiking, swimming and more.
Mind’s Eye Travel creates tours for people with vision loss that include sighted guides. Itineraries are tailored for comfort, camaraderie and a full sensory experience while allowing for independence.