Tired of wondering if a place is accessible? NBC5 talked to Vanessa Harris about the new docu-series Accessible Chicago which takes the guesswork out of exploring Chicago’s amazing attractions! Join us as we explore museums, zoos, and more with Fun4theDisabled, a non-profit dedicated to inclusive experiences. This episode features Lincoln Park Zoo, with helpful tips on navigating the grounds and maximizing your visit. Accessible Chicago empowers people with disabilities to experience the Windy City with confidence!

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REPORTER: A new video series invites people with disabilities to explore Chicago attractions thanks to a nonprofit organization, Fun4theDisabled. The series called Accessible Chicago, helps people navigate a location before they head out. NBC Five’s LeeAnn Trotter with the story.

VANESSA HARRIS: I have multiple disabilities myself, and I think people with disabilities can have a lot of fun.

LEEANN: This is the trailer for Accessible Chicago, the new docu series for people with disabilities. We met up with the series creator Vanessa Harris at Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the places featured in the series.

BILL GREEN: I think it was at least two years ago that she contacted me with this. She said, I have this idea. I really want to make videos to highlight the accessibility in Chicago. And I agreed with her, and it’s great.

LEEANN: At first, Harris faced a big roadblock.

VANESSA: I applied for a grant with a state agency, and they turned me down.

LEEANN: But she didn’t let that stop her. Harris found out about a tourism grant offered by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

VANESSA: I applied for that knowing I wasn’t going to get it because there was so much competition and we won it. 

LEEANN: And that started her journey.

VANESSA: I started in my neighborhood with the Hyde Park Arts Center, and I took a documentary class. I shot the video in the gallery, which was accessible, and the artist told me I should do more, more videos. And that’s how I got started.

LEEANN: Lincoln Park Zoo is one of 16 cultural attractions featured in the accessible Chicago docu-series. For people with disabilities researching the venue is important.

BILL GREEN: I also really encourage people to check out our accessibility map, which shows a lot of information about the sensory experiences where tactile experiences are available, where videos with open captions are available and lets people plan their visit to the zoo.

VANESSA: But if you know some places welcoming you and you know what to expect, you’re more likely to come and they’ll get more visitors.

LEEANN: The new docu-series Accessible Chicago can be viewed on the Fun4theDisabled website or their YouTube page. Reporting from Lincoln Park Zoo, LeeAnn Trotter, NBC five News.

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