Summer fun: no sight necessary

Post by Holly Hayes

Summer is the ultimate time for exploration and new experiences, especially in a place as vibrant as New England. Although this can seem daunting for someone living with a visual impairment, there are many accessible opportunities available. Today there are more options than ever to get out and enjoy the summertime, from theater and museums to outdoor activities and sports games.

THEATER

A majority of the theaters in Boston offer audio described performances on certain summer days, with some options listed below:

o   The Regent Theatre Located in Arlington, MA is one of the most accessible theaters in the area. The theater keeps the house lights on during every show which is helpful for those with low vision, and the entire venue is open and one level so it easy to maneuver for anyone with a disability. They have music and concerts, films and comedy and even family fun events depending on the day.

o   At the Boston Opera House there is going to be an audio described performance of Phantom of the Opera on Sunday, June 29th at 1 pm.

o   At the American Repertory Theater there is going to be two audio described performances of the Tempest on June 4th at 7:30 pm and June 7th at 2 pm.

o   At the Huntington Theater, there are audio described performances of Smart People June 6th at 10 am and June 14th at 2pm.

This is the interior of the Boston Opera House which has audio described performances for the visually impaired

The interior of the Boston Opera House, which provides audio described performances for visually impaired visitors.

MUSEUMS

The Museum of Fine Arts has an array of options for museum goers with disabilities throughout the summer. The MFA has the “Feeling for Form” program which takes place on the first Sunday of every month at 1 pm. Learn more. Pre-registration, which closes a week before the program date, is required but there is no additional fee. The program offers tours for all ages. If you’d prefer to explore the museum on your own, the MFA also has assistive listening devices available for the exhibits at the Sharf Visitor Center. See upcoming accessible MFA events here.

The Museum of Science also offers sighted guide tours, assistive listening devices for the museum and the available films as well as for selected planetarium shows. Learn more.

Thanks to the Highland Street Foundation, every Friday between June 28th– August 30th is Free Fun Friday with free admission to museums and cultural events around the state. The full list of dates and events can be found here. The MFA is a Free Fun Friday museum on July 18th. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum also has an introduction to the museum in large print and braille as well as audio listening devices available. It is also a Free Fun Friday museum on August 1st.

One of the MABVI clients participating in the Feeling for Form program at the Museum of Fine Arts

A MABVI client participates in the Feeling for Form program at the Museum of Fine Arts

SPORTS

One of the most accessible sports during the summertime is beep ball, a modified version of baseball for blind and visually impaired athletes. Beep ball involves a sighted pitcher and catcher while the rest of the team is visually impaired. The ball beeps after it is thrown to help players estimate when to hit the ball based on the closeness of the beeps. Players run to a buzzing base to try to score a run. According to the Boston Renegades, the Boston beep ball team, you don’t need to have any prior experience to play the game, only a commitment to the team.

Three beep ball players with blindfolds in the middle of a game

Three beep ball players with blindfolds in the middle of a game

If you would rather experience a game from the stands, there are also options for accessible sports games in Boston. At Fenway Park you can use an assisted listening device that plays the radio description of the game in real time without the 10-second delay experienced by listeners at home. There are also ALDs available at TD Garden on level four outside section 4 for most games and performances.

A photo of a filled Fenway Park, which offers assistive listening devices during the games

A photo of a crowded Fenway Park, which offers assisted listening devices during the games.

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

There is also a variety of outdoor activities throughout New England including cycling, fishing, and accessible beaches and hiking trails. Some of these activities can be found through the the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Universal Access Program. DCR hosts accessible activities throughout the summer such as nature walks led by park interpreters or assisted listening devices if requested. Learn more here.

The Carroll Center for the Blind offers summer events such as sailing trips, birding by ear, tandem biking, canoeing, and a New Hampshire White Mountains trip! Find more information here.

Do you know of other great accessible summer activities in your area? If so, leave your tips in the comment box below!

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