'Calm Waters': Shedd Aquarium Updates App, Expands Access For Guests With Disabilities

Bernie Tafoya
March 14, 2019 - 10:52 am
Shedd Aquarium Sensory Friendly App

Shedd Aquarium

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Shedd Aquarium is further expanding its initiatives for guests with disabilities.

The Shedd Aquarium announced Wednesday updates to their mobile app to make it even more user-friendly to those with autism and sensory-processing disorders; as well as a new quiet room and new dates for the Calm Waters event.

The free, sensory-friendly app, created in 2016, helps the Shedd become more accessible to all guests. It provides information to better prepare for a visit to the aquarium and includes video guides explaining each exhibit, maps, notes and tips on the temperatures of the spaces, and noise levels. App-users can also play games and create personalized schedules.

Guests can download the app from iTunes and Google Play, and it is even now available in a Spanish version. 

To further expand the initiative, the Shedd has introduced a quiet room, that can be used to calm people down if they become too stimulated during their visit. It has adjustable lighting, a weighted lap pad, and sound-reducing headphones. It also has a prayer rug and outlets to charge electronic devices. The quiet room is located in in the Northern Trust Suite near the aquarium’s main foyer and can be used during regular hours. 

The Shedd Aquarium has also added new dates to the Calm Waters: Extended Hours for Guests with Disabilities event. The event first launched in 2018 and gives guests the opportunity to explore all exhibits and experiences in a comfortable and accepting environment. 

“Offering extended hours is a common and effective way to reduce stimuli, as well as cut down on crowds along with the noise that ensues, and we knew there was interest based on discussions with community partners,” said Lynn Walsh, manager of accessibility and inclusion at Shedd, in a statement. “Our hope is to provide greater access and an inclusive environment so we can better connect our audience with the aquatic animal world.”

The two new dates include this Sunday, March 17 from 8-10 a.m. and then Monday, May 6 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Family members and companions are welcome.

The event costs $24.95 for non-members. More information on this event and other accessibility at the Shedd can be found on the website.