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Exploring The Delights of Accessible New York

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Central Park in New York

New York City, often called the “City that Never Sleeps,” is one of my favorite cities to visit.  I’ve been traveling to New York City since I was a kid – by car, by train, and even by shuttle.  It’s one of the busiest cities I’ve ever been to and also a city that is one of the most diverse.  It’s also a city that has come a long way with respect to accessibility over the years, thanks to champions like friends and colleagues, Victor Calise and Jim Weisman. 

To get an accessible taxi, you can contact the Accessible Dispatch Program – just be sure to book in advance. It will be nearly impossible to get an accessible taxi without advance notice. That said, there are so many accessible things to do and places to explore that you’ll want to come back.  I know I look forward to my next trip to New York City.  Here are some of my recommendations for an accessible and fun trip to this incredible city.

Accommodations

New York City has hotels with accessible guest rooms in just about every part of the city.  Many hotels provide wheelchair-accessible rooms equipped with roll-in showers, grab bars, and widened doorways, as well as rooms adapted for people who are blind or deaf. I think it’s always best to check directly with the hotel to ensure your specific needs are met. Some recommended options include The Plaza Hotel, The Westin New York at Times Square, and The Hyatt Union Square, all of which offer accessible rooms and amenities to ensure a comfortable stay.

In addition to hotels, travelers can also consider renting accessible apartments or suites through platforms like Airbnb. Look for listings that specifically mention accessibility features such as wheelchair ramps, elevators, and accessible bathrooms to find accommodation that suits your needs.

Landmarks and Attractions

New York City is known for its iconic landmarks and cultural sites, many of which have made efforts to enhance accessibility for all visitors. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, two must-visit attractions, provide accessibility services, including accessible ferry transportation, accessible restrooms, and designated viewing areas.  Be sure to check these links for specific information as not all areas of these two attractions are completely accessible.

One World Observatory is accessible for people with disabilities on all three levels.  There is an accessible drop off/pick up location along West Street north of Vesey Street.  Accessible restrooms are available.  During peak times, the Observatory can get very crowded and it can be overwhelming.  Just be prepared to ask for assistance to navigate to an elevator through the crowd. 

Broadway shows are an integral part of the New York City experience. Many theaters offer accessible seating, assisted listening devices, captioning services, and sign language interpretation upon request. Be sure to contact the theater in advance to inquire about specific accommodations.

Museums

When exploring the city’s eclectic museum scene, consider visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which offers wheelchair accessibility, accessible entrances, complimentary wheelchairs, and hearing loops in some areas. Be sure to check this link for more information.  The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) provides accessible entrances, elevators, and accessible exhibits. Automated captioning is available for all online programs. American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and live captioning is available for public programs upon request with two weeks advance notice.The Museum also provides an online program, Art inSight, where people who are blind or low vision can listen to specially trained lecturers give extensive visual descriptions of artwork and participate in discussions about a variety of themes, artists, and exhibitions.  The American Museum of Natural History  provides accessible entrances, elevators, and accessible exhibits.

The National September 11 Memorial &  Museum is accessible and the accessible pick-up/drop-off location is at the intersection of Liberty Street and Trinity Place.  Induction loops are installed throughout the Museum, Open captioning or transcripts are available for all exhibition media installations that feature audio, The Museum provides an audio guide which  includes an audio description tour which allows visitors who are blind or partially sighted to independently explore the Museum.  An American Sign Language video tour is available with an audio guide. American Sign Language interpretation is available free of charge for guided tours and public programs or events by request with two weeks’ notice.

Outdoor Activities and Parks

Central Park, a sprawling urban oasis, offers accessible pathways and restrooms, as well as rental options for adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs and handcycles. The park’s Belvedere Castle and Strawberry Fields are accessible but be sure to check these links for accessible routes on the map link.

The High Line, a unique elevated park built on a historic freight rail line, features accessible pathways, elevators, and accessible seating areas, providing incredible views of the cityscape.

Governors Island, a car-free oasis in the heart of the city, provides accessible ferry service, accessible restrooms, and ramps so that visitors can explore the island’s expansive park and relax in this peaceful location.

Transportation

Navigating New York City can be tricky due to the crowds and traffic, but you do have accessible transportation options.  In addition to the Accessible Dispatch Program I mentioned at the beginning of this article, city buses and even part of the subway are accessible.  Just be sure to give yourself enough time to allow for traffic or other delays when booking accessible transportation..

New York City is a busy, lively, fun, and accessible destination that offers so many experiences for travelers with disabilities. With accessible accommodations, landmark attractions, outdoor spaces, and transportation options, New York City is a great place to visit.  I look forward to my next trip to NYC!

When planning your visit to New York City, be sure to research specific accessibility features, contact venues in advance, and consult online resources such as official websites and organizations dedicated.

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