Accessibility at Mass Audubon

A Mass Audubon staff member walking with visitors on an accessible trail
A Mass Audubon staff member walking with visitors on an accessible trail

Visiting Wildlife Sanctuaries • Accessible Programs • Partners

We believe nature should be enjoyed by everyone; that’s why we’re creating accessible opportunities at our wildlife sanctuaries for all. 

When I walk by myself on one of Mass Audubon's All Persons trails, I hear more, feel more, and take in more with all of my senses. I go at my own speed, stopping when I want to, standing quietly for as long as I choose, and taking in the beauty of nature in my own unique way.

—Jerry Berrier, Perkins School for the Blind

Visiting Accessible Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuaries

Accessible Nature Centers

All of our nature centers have been renovated to include ADA-compliant parking, entrances, restrooms, admissions areas, educational activity spaces, exhibits, and galleries.  

Two hands holding on to a post-and-rope guide along the All-Persons Trail at Blue Hills © Kent Harnois
© Kent Harnois

You can also access interpretive materials, including audio tours, tactile trail maps, seat canes, hands-free binoculars, and large print field guides at Mass Audubon Nature Centers. Please contact the wildlife sanctuary you plan to visit beforehand to confirm availability.  

All Persons Trails

Mass Audubon has developed and installed All Persons Trails at wildlife sanctuaries across the state, in addition to the network universally accessible ADA compliant trails, with more on the way.  

All Persons Trails are typically .5-.75 miles long with wide, even paths of pavement, crushed gravel, or boardwalk. Frequent seating opportunities provide a space to rest and take in your surroundings.  

All Persons Trails go beyond Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance and include universally accessible interpretive features. You can expect handrails, braille and tactile features, audio tour stops, wildlife viewing boardwalks and platforms, and seating. At select sanctuaries, All Persons Trails are lined with a unique post-and-rope guided system; round beads on the rope indicate an interoperative stop, square beads indicate there is seating nearby. 

Wildlife sanctuaries with accessible All Persons Trails include: 

Interested in creating your own All Persons Trail? We created an open-source manual of guidelines and best practices for developing and operating universally designed interpreted trail experiences. 

Mobility Support

Visitors are welcome to use their own mobility devices at our wildlife sanctuaries.  

Assistive and mobility devices are available for loan at select sites, including Freedom Chairs, 100Laps Navigators, Beach Wheelchairs, and seat canes. Please contact the wildlife sanctuary ahead of your visit to confirm availability.  

We issue day permits for visitors to bring electric or electronic power-driven mobility devices to use on our trails, with conditions on size, speed, weight, and other safety measures.  

Service Animal Policy

Service animals, including those for emotional comfort and support, are welcome at Mass Audubon*. However, resident wildlife, living freely on the sanctuary or residing in display enclosures, and resident livestock used for farming or ecological management, can perceive even well-trained service animals as predators. For the safety and comfort of wildlife and livestock, we ask service-animal handlers to please: 

  • Keep service animals restrained and under control at all times and be aware of the potential risk to our animals on exhibit by their presence. 
  • Contact us before visiting for the first time for more site-specific information and to discuss how best to accommodate your needs along with the site’s wildlife and livestock. 

* At sanctuaries with horses (Drumlin Farm), we cannot allow miniature horses to accompany service animal handlers due to the potential health risk to both the miniature horse and to our animals. 

Accessible Nature Programs

Our staff are trained in connecting people of all abilities to the outdoors so you can enjoy our wildlife sanctuaries in safe, accessible, and rewarding ways.  

Vocational-Transitional Internships

As teens and young adults with intellectual or learning disabilities transition into the next part of their lives and careers, they can get hands-on life experience working with Mass Audubon staff mentors. Work responsibilities can range from property maintenance, visitor services, education, and animal care at Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries.  

Interested in interning with Mass Audubon? Contact your local wildlife sanctuary to learn more. 

Inclusive Volunteer Programs

Seven Hill Foundation, Work Inc., and other partners help bring adults with disabilities to volunteer at our wildlife sanctuaries. Volunteers can help keep the sites in tip-top shape by assisting in gardens, doing property maintenance, and keeping our accessible trails and paths clean and safe. 

Interested in volunteering with Mass Audubon? Contact your local wildlife sanctuary to learn more.  

Sensory Friendly Days

For people on the autism spectrum or with other sensory-sensitive needs, some environments can be overwhelming. On days we host Sensory Friendly Days, wildlife sanctuaries are closed to the general public or are expected to be relatively quiet. Find an upcoming Sensory Friendly Day near you. 

Partners in Access to Nature

Our efforts to foster universally accessible wildlife sanctuaries are the result of working with knowledgeable partners and generous supporters. 

The Massachusetts Cultural Council’s (MCC) UP Inclusive Design Initiative connects us to a network of other local cultural organizations to focus on continually improving accessibility and inclusion at our nature centers, in our programs, and through our visitor services.  

The Alvarium Foundation has helped our organization continually build staff capacity for accessibility, adaptive environmental education, and inclusive customer service. Thanks to Alvarium's support, we have also developed collaborative partnerships with dozens of community organizations supporting individuals with disabilities. 

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funded our initial accessible trails projects. With their support, we’ve been able to update our trail systems and share our learnings with other organizations. 

The Tower Foundation funded our vocational transitional internships, connecting teens and young adults with intellectual and learning disabilities to the outdoors through the aid of Mass Audubon mentors. 

Sensory Friendly Days are supported in part by grants from the Lincoln, Sudbury, Belmont, Arlington, Natick, Sherborn, Framingham, Boston, Topsfield, Norfolk, Wrentham, Plainville, Sharon, Norwood, Walpole, Canton, Milton, Plymouth, Kingston, Attleboro, North Attleboro, Marshfield, Duxbury, Westport, Dartmouth, Millbury, West Boylston, Fitchburg, and Wellfleet Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.