Starting Thursday, Dec. 12, Shedd Aquarium will begin offering low sensory aquatic presentations on Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. and on the last Sunday every month for the last presentation of the day. To our knowledge, Shedd Aquarium is the first aquarium in the U.S. to offer this type of low sensory aquatic presentation on a regular basis – the latest in a suite of growing and evolving accessibility accommodations at Shedd.
Shedd’s low sensory aquatic presentations have reduced volume, dimmed lighting and all flashing lights are removed. It is designed to be a welcoming, inclusive space, where guests can feel comfortable responding to the presentation in their own way and stepping out if needed. Presenters at the aquarium will introduce the low sensory aquatic presentation, setting clear expectations and encouraging silent jazz hands over clapping.
“Shedd’s aquatic presentations are one of the greatest highlights of a visit to the aquarium for many of our guests,” said Lynn Walsh, manager of accessibility and inclusion at Shedd Aquarium. “So, we worked diligently with teams across the aquarium, from marine mammal trainers to presenters, as well as members of the autism community to make the modifications to ensure there’s a comfortable and accepting environment for all our guests to join us for this experience.”
In order to prepare for a visit that could include an aquatic presentation, the aquarium also offers Shedd’s Sensory Friendly App that includes social stories that can help set expectations. The aquatic presentation social story shares how to reserve a ticket, pictures of the seating, details about the length of the presentation and further information about lighting, noises, visuals and more.
Beyond the environmental modifications, Shedd’s low sensory aquatic presentation will include the same unbelievable animals highlighted in the original presentations, including the Pacific white-sided dolphins, beluga whales and a changing lineup of other favorite animals. Experts highlight amazing animal adaptations and guests leave with a greater understanding of animal anatomy and appreciation for aquatic life. The experience is included with general admission, just reserve your free tickets upon arrival at the kiosks in the North Lobby. All guests are welcome to attend a low sensory aquatic presentation and will be notified of the alterations.
In addition, the aquarium offers wheelchair accessible seating and companion chairs in the Abbott Oceanarium, assistive listening devices and sound-reducing headphones that can be picked up at the main information desk for the aquatic presentations. Upon request, arrangements can be made for live audio-described or real-time captioned aquatic presentations.
To learn more about Shedd’s accessibility offerings, please visit: https://www.sheddaquarium.org/plan-a-visit/accessibility.
VISUALS: Available for download: https://personal.filesanywhere.com/fs/v.aspx?v=8e696a885c6373b6a96d.
Photo Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Eva Ho
Video Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Sam Cejtin