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Monday, December 7, 2015

Chicago Millennium Park fully Accessible to All with Disabilities

This panoramic view of the Great Lawn, trellis, and bandshell at Jay Pritzker Pavilion was taken in May 2009. Among the buildings pictured in the background are (left to right) The Heritage,Smurfit-Stone BuildingTrump International Hotel and TowerOne Prudential PlazaTwo Prudential PlazaAon CenterAquaBlue Cross Blue Shield Tower340 on the ParkThe Buckingham400 East Randolph, and Harbor Point.
Chicago's Millennium Park exceeded the standards set out in the ADA by making inclusive ramps with a slope more gradual than dictated by ADA to ease use by persons with disabilities. They consulted with a wide breadth of nonprofit organizations in order to make sure the park set the standards for universal inclusive design. They made adaptation to ensure that white canes do not get stuck, kids in wheel chairs can participate in playing with water fountains, and that all trails are inclusive.

Chicago ABC7 reports in July, 2015 with details on the Accessibility at Millennium Park:


Millennium Park Accessibility

Every aspect of Millennium Park has been designed to be fully accessible to all patrons.

The following services are available:

  • Wheelchair loans in the Millennium Park Welcome Center, 201 E. Randolph Street. Wheelchairs may be returned to any Millennium Park Security Guard after the Welcome Center has closed
  • Integrated spaces for wheelchair seating at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion
  • Wheelchair accessible restroom facilities
  • Assistive listening devices at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion Sound Booth
  • Service animals are permitted in the Park
  • Audio tour scripts are available in the Millennium Park Welcome Center for the hearing impaired

Key accessible design elements include:

  • Ramps adjacent to Michigan Avenue main staircases that start and stop at the same place as the top and bottom landing of the staircase. This allows a person in a wheelchair to get to the same place as an able bodied person without traveling great distances away from the staircase.
  • The staircase at Columbus and Monroe is adjacent to an elevator.
  • The BP Bridge never exceeds a 1:20 gradual slope. Slopes greater than 1:20 require handrails, edge protection and flat landings every 30'. These slopes also take physical exertion to push oneself up and greater control to go down. Disabled children rarely have the upper body strength to accomplish this. The Bridge was also designed so the spacing between the floorboards does not exceed 1/4". This ensures that the front wheel of a chair cannot get caught and tip over.
  • The Crown Fountain was designed without edges or deep water areas so a wheelchair can easily enter the fountain area and participate with full inclusion.
  • The Jay Pritzker Pavilion has wheelchair seating spaces throughout the seating area. There are assistive listening devices available for the hearing impaired and 5% of the aisle seats have removable armrests for easy access by a person transferring onto the seat or people who use walkers and canes. In addition, the grass is cut to meet ADAAG guidelines for access - short cut with firm and stable soil foundation to allow a wheelchair to go onto the lawn area.

During the Christmas Season "Caroling at Cloud Gate" is just one of the wonderful weekly events.

For Chicago's Millennium Parks website, visit: 

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