Embark on an unforgettable journey at Navy Pier, located at 600 East Grand in Chicago. Anita Nelson, the Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility, is dedicated to creating an inclusive space where everyone feels welcome and valued. Join Alexis Smith, a vibrant young woman with cerebral palsy, as she explores the accessibility features of Navy Pier. From ramps and accessible entryways to sensory-friendly areas, Navy Pier ensures that every guest, regardless of ability, can fully enjoy all that it has to offer. 

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(bright music)

ANITA NELSON: What makes Navy Pier so special is that every time you come here, it’s a different experience. You have the Centennial Wheel, you could go for a boat ride, but also you have opportunities to meet people that you normally wouldn’t engage with or meet on a regular basis. My name is Anita Nelson, and I’m currently the Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility for Navy Pier. Navy Pier is located at 600 West Grand. There are many ways to arrive at Navy Pier. You can take a bus, taxi, Uber. We also have the Shoreline boat that people take in as well, and the water taxi. Our mission here at Navy Pier is we really want people to feel like they belong here and we want to feel like they could be their authentic selves, so really creating this inclusive space where they can experience Navy Pier and what it has to offer. This is our main entrance into the pier, and as you can see, this is where a lot of our restaurants are. Our food courts right now, we’re in the process of developing accessibility map that’ll be on our webpage that identifies different bathrooms, different ramps, as well as high sensory and low sensory areas, so we’re not only thinking from a mobility lens, but also an auxiliary aid as well.

ALEXIS: My name is Alexis Smith. I identify as a 28 year old black woman with cerebral palsy. Accessibility is a big deal for me because people with disabilities, we want to go out to eat, we want to go out to bars, we want to go to shows. I like the ramp there.

ANITA NELSON: There’s an entryway and then also an exit, so you’re not going down the same ramp that you entered on. One of the unique things about Navy Pier is that you could come here, be a tourist and be able to experience the boats, the Ferris wheel, but also you’re going to get programming and activations. Navy Pier is one of the top tourism places in Chicago, and so we would be doing a disservice if we’re not creating an inclusive space for everyone. Anything that is not accessible ultimately takes away from that experience.

ALEXIS: Today, I felt like Navy Pier has done a great job with telling me where everything is. I like the Ferris wheel that I rode on for the first time. Okay. I didn’t know this was glass, and it’s nice and air conditioned in here. 


ALEXIS: Yeah. This is really cool. The fact that the ramp was there and it’s mobile was perfect.

ANITA NELSON: We got to experience Centennial Wheel, which is wheelchair accessible as well. 

ALEXIS: My favorite part was looking down at the glass. I like that. I’m a daredevil. If you want to see tall buildings and the beautiful rides and the water, I would say come here.

ANITA NELSON: We welcome you, please. We want you to come. We want you to have a great time and experience, Navy Pier. We want everyone to feel accepted and welcomed here at the pier, but also we want to make sure that we’re creating access and opportunities and so, it’s very important that we create these inclusive spaces and that we continue to build on the work that’s already been done.

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