Step into a world of wonder at Lincoln Park Zoo, where accessibility meets adventure! Join us on a journey through tactile maps, glass viewing points, and sensory exhibits designed for all abilities. Bill Green, the Accessibility Inclusion Manager, as he guides us through the zoo’s innovative approach to inclusivity. Discover how the zoo’s commitment to universal design ensures that everyone, regardless of ability, can enjoy a wildlife experience like never before.

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BILL GREEN: Lincoln Park Zoo is in Lincoln Park in Chicago. The mission for Lincoln Park Zoo is really to connect people to nature and connect people to wildlife. We are a free zoo. We have free admission to the public, so if someone comes and they are looking for an accessible or accommodation to their visit, that that does not mean it’s coming with extra charge, extra burden. True conservation will take all of us, and we don’t want anyone to be cut out of that work, just like we don’t want anyone to not be able to enjoy the wildlife that is here at the zoo.


BILL GREEN: Hello, good morning. My name is Bill Green. I’m the Hart Prins Fund Accessibility Inclusion Manager here at Lincoln Park Zoo. Welcome, and we’re so glad to have you today.

MEREDITH: I arrived here this morning. The public transit dropped me off right up front, and then I was led in the gates by our friend Bill here. And he took us to the Lion Cub Exhibit, and we got to see the Lion Cub Exhibit in its full glory, with the glass all the way to the ground, to the ceiling.

BILL GREEN: When we were designing that, we made sure that these windows had as much floor-to-ceiling coverage as possible, so that you could get as wide a view. And it’s again, the universal design of being able to have access for everyone at different levels. We always think about that, where different sightlines are.

MEREDITH: I think often when we come to the zoo, we just think about looking at all the cute animals, and there’s so much more to visiting the zoo. It’s really an experience of all five of your senses, and the Lincoln Park Zoo does a really good job of engaging all of those senses through a lot of their exhibits. We got to see this tactile map. It’s really great for people with low vision. They have a lot of accessibility features in that, to be able to engage with it, no matter what your vision is like, and it’s also super tactile, which is great for all of our neurodiverse friends and anyone who’s just looking for a pleasing, soothing experience.

BILL GREEN: Take your two fingers; you have a stripe. And then three fingers; take a stripe to give people an idea of how big they are. We think a lot about our accessibility being full, just, and integrated. We think about accessibility being from the beginning, that we’re not putting it in as an afterthought. We want our accessibility to be integrated into what we do. We think about that universal design and the benefits of building accessibility into whether it’s our infrastructure, our exhibits, our digital spaces, so that all people benefit from that.

MEREDITH: It was very clear to me that the zoo prioritizes not only accessibility but universal design. That was really cool, to see just small details that you wouldn’t really think of. They have, for example, these clear cutouts in the fence. And a lot of viewing points, the glass goes all the way down to the floor, so I just thought that that was such a nice touch, that someone was being very intentional about a lot of these design decisions. When I came here today and everything was accessible, it just allowed me to be able to relax.

BILL GREEN: We want our guests to feel like we knew you were coming, and we were expecting you, and this is a place that has been planned with you in mind.

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