Accessible Projects and Partners
The effort to create universally accessible wildlife sanctuaries was the result of working with partners and generous supporters.
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IMLS-Funded Accessible Trails Project
In 2010, Mass Audubon was awarded a $102,065 grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to add multi-sensory interpretive content on existing ADA-accessible nature trails at eight wildlife sanctuaries across the state. The goal of this project is to create a richer experience for visitors with a wide range of vision, hearing, and mobility levels.
Improvements to the eight trails include:
- Audio tours
- Brailled texts and tactile maps
- Tour scripts and maps designed for high readability for visually impaired and sighted visitors
- New orientation maps and information panels
- Improved signage along trails
- Rope/post guiding systems
- Wider boardwalks
In 2014, IMLS provided additional funding to produce a comprehensive guidelines manual for developing and sustaining an accessible interpreted trail. The goal is to share what we have learned with other organizations. The manual provides ideas for collaborative partnerships, developing and testing trail materials with volunteer expert users and resource professionals, and outreach.
Massachusetts Cultural Council
The MCC's UP Inclusive Design Initiative seeks to inspire organizations to use design to anticipate and accommodate the full spectrum of human ability. UP is Universal Programs, Universal Places. Mass Audubon, along with 26 other cultural organizations, participates in the UP network in order to continually improve accessibility and inclusion at our nature centers, in our programs, and through our visitor services.
Since 2019, Alvarium Foundation has generously supported Mass Audubon's accessibility work. With their funding, our organization is continually building staff capacity for accessibility, adaptive environmental education, and inclusive customer service. This support has enabled us to develop and deliver annual training programs for all staff and volunteers who greet 500,000+ annual visitors, respond to inquiries about accessibility, and provide diverse and inclusive learning experiences.
Thanks to Alvarium's support, we have developed collaborative partnerships with dozens of community organizations supporting individuals with disabilities. With these partners, we are designing, delivering, and evaluating education programs at our wildlife sanctuaries, in community settings, and online. Throughout the Commonwealth, our educators are offering seasonal, introductory, multi-sensory programs for individuals and groups with a range of accessibility and learning needs.