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Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago; photo by Abel Arciniega, @tequilagraphics

DNC Guide: Accessible Chicago

Explore an accessible big city

Chicago is proud to welcome visitors from around the world to our great city for the Democratic National Convention 2024. While you’re here, we invite you to come experience what makes Chicago a city like no other — and why we’ve been named the Best Big City in the U.S. for an unprecedented seven years in a row.

Chicago prides itself on being an inclusive and welcoming place to live and visit, and accessibility is an important part of making all visitors and residents feel welcome. Throughout the city, we strive to ensure that everyone can comfortably and safely experience our iconic attractions, diverse neighborhoods, dining, museums, sports, theatres, and beyond. Explore accessibility information and resources to help plan your trip.

We’ve created these Chicago guides with five specially curated activities to help DNC visitors experience different aspects of our great city. To delve deeper and make the most out of your time in Chicago, keep exploring with our guide at the link below.

Explore our accessibility guide to Chicago

1. Get to and around Chicago with ease

Photo by Abel Arciniega, @tequilagraphics

Chicago offers a variety of resources to increase accessibility for travelers with disabilities or mobility devices within airports, public transportation, and beyond.

O’Hare and Midway International Airports both offer various accommodations to help travelers with disabilities get to and from Chicago safely and conveniently, including accessible parking, restrooms, service animal areas, and special accommodations during security.

Accessible public transit is a cornerstone of the city. All of Chicago’s CTA bus routes use accessible buses, including lifts and ramps, designated priority seating and wheelchair securement areas, and automated voice announcements and accompanying text displays for route and stop information.

Chicago’s rapid transit train system, known as the ‘L’, features many accessibility amenities on its trains and stations. Train cards include priority seating, designated wheelchair areas, accessible doors and ramps, braille signage, voice announcements for route information, and more.

Learn more about accessibility resources for getting to and around Chicago.

2. Explore accessible Chicago museums

Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago; photo of Abel Arciniega, @tequilagraphics

Chicago’s world-renowned museums serve as inclusive and welcoming spaces for all visitors, offering sensory-friendly exhibits, verbal description tours, assistive technology, and more.

At the Museum of Science and Industry, individuals may request sighted guides and EnChroma glasses for visitors who have color vision deficiency. Guests can also request American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and scripts for Giant Dome Theater films, tours, and other programs.

The Art Institute of Chicago offers TacTiles kits with highlights from the Art Institute’s collection represented on handheld tiles designed to be touched. Guests may also request printed transcripts of audio guides for special exhibits at the audio guide desk.

The lakefront Adler Planetarium offers complimentary assisted listening devices in the planetarium’s three theatres, where guests can view dazzling Sky Shows. The theatres also feature designated seating areas for visitors using wheelchairs and their companions.

Explore more accessibility features at Chicago museums.

3. Grab tickets for accessible Chicago theatres

Wuthering Heights at Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

From our downtown theatre district to our storefront neighborhood venues, Chicago’s theatres strive to be inclusive and accessible to all patrons.

Broadway in Chicago brings exciting Broadway productions, from thrilling new works to beloved favorites, to Chicago’s downtown theatre district. Check the schedule for regularly scheduled audio-described performances, sign-interpreted and open-captioned performances, and sensory-friendly performances.

The Tony Award-winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier offers wheelchair-accessible seating, assistive-listening devices, open captioned and ASL-interpreted performances, and Braille/large print programs.

The Lyric Opera of Chicago, housed in a striking Art Deco building, is known as one of the world’s great opera companies. Lyric recently introduced the groundbreaking SoundShirt Program that is transforming the way audiences who are deaf or hard of hearing experience live music.

Learn more about accessibility at Chicago’s theatres.

4. Discover sensory-friendly attractions

A family at the Shedd Aquarium
Shedd Aquarium; photo by Abel Arciniega :: @tequilagraphics

In order to make Chicago’s iconic museums and attractions more accessible to all visitors, many offer special sensory-friendly events and experiences throughout the year.

These programs cater to people of all ages and needs, whether it’s hands-on workshops for children with autism or special events for veterans and adults with disabilities.

The Calm Waters event series at the lakefront Shedd Aquarium offers veterans and guests with disabilities a chance to experience the beauty of the Shedd in a quiet, limited-capacity environment. There are also sound-reducing headphones and a quiet room always available to guests.

Sensory-Friendly Mornings at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is a free, sensory-friendly program for neurodiverse visitors of all ages. Families can visit the museum before it opens to the public and explore exhibitions at their own pace. Lobby lights are less intense and a quiet space is available for breaks.

There are also sensory-friendly performances available at a variety of Chicago theatre venues, including the Goodman Theatre, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Blue Man Group, and more.

5. Get outdoors with accessible green spaces

Yemi Alade performs at the Pritzker Pavilion as part of the Millennium Park Summer Music Series in Chicago's Loop
Millennium Park Summer Music Series; photo by Patrick L. Pyszka, City of Chicago

Millennium Park is one of Chicago’s most iconic attractions — and it’s also one of its most accessible. The downtown green space was specifically designed to be inclusive and accessible to all patrons, regardless of mobility or disability.

Park-goers have access to complimentary wheelchairs, assistive listening devices, text scripts of audio tours, large print copies of program books, and a mobile app with sensory-friendly maps. There are also wheelchair-accessible restrooms and seating at the Pritzker Pavilion.

Garfield Park Conservatory, one of the largest conservatories in the nation, is a soaring public greenhouse filled with plants from around the world. The free conservatory offers sensory tours, complimentary wheelchair rentals, free parking with accessible spots, and more.

The historic Lincoln Park Zoo offers sensory bags, a social narrative, quiet rooms, accessible restrooms, free wheelchair rentals, ASL interpreters for events and programs, tactile experiences, and more.

Discover more Chicago accessibility resources, along with helpful tips and advice from locals.

Explore all Chicago DNC guides