Public spaces, including the Academy, can present challenges for people with disabilities. This webpage provides information that should ease and enhance your visit, whether you have a mobility impairment or a visual impairment. Information about service animals and autism is also presented.
Guests of the Academy should always feel comfortable requesting assistance from the staff.
The Academy will grant free admission to one caregiver or aide accompanying a guest with disabilities, as needed. Please ask at the front desk and a Visitor Services manager will assist you.
For the Mobility Impaired
Because of its age, the building that houses the Academy's museum has a number of barriers to visitors with mobility impairment. The following should help:
- Visitors with wheelchairs are welcome to enter through our barrier-free entrance located on 19th Street.
- A limited number of wheelchairs are available on request.
- The elevator in the rear of the museum (near the 19th Street entrance) provides access to all floors. The elevator at the front of the building provides access to the main level, mezzanine, and second level.
- All restrooms have stalls that can accommodate wheelchairs, and all stalls have railings. Automatic doors are available for the restrooms on the ground level.
For the Visually Impaired
Some exhibits and activities may be of particular interest to the visually impaired:
- Outside In is our children's discovery center. It contains many specimens that can be handled or smelled. It is also a place where all visitors can meet and touch live animals. Outside In is located on the third level.
- The Big Dig is a place where you can dig for dinosaur bones. It is located in the back of the mezzanine in Dinosaur Hall.
- There are a number of dinosaur skulls and other hands-on displays in the front of the mezzanine in Dinosaur Hall.
- Museum specimens that can be touched and handled are frequently featured at Science Live, which is located in front of the Auditorium on the first level.
- Naturalist Presentations often feature live animals and specimens that can be touched.
Service Animals Welcome!
The Academy welcomes Active Service Animals to all our programs and exhibits. (Handlers of in-training service animals, please see below). We ask that handlers consider our museum’s many live animal ambassadors. In some situations, our animals could be startled, frightened, or potentially injured by the presence of service animals. Please understand that we may have to relocate an animal or return an animal to its enclosure for its safety or the handler’s.
If your group will be accompanied by one or more service animals, please inform our Visitor Services Department in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-299-1000. This will help us decide which animals to select for your lessons or programs.
Service Animals In Training (e.g., seeing-eye puppies) are not permitted in the Academy without prior permission from our Visitor Services Department. Animals in training may not have all their vaccinations or be as predictable as fully trained and working service animals. This is for the safety and security of our Live Animal Collection.
Encounters with our live animal ambassadors are most likely to occur in the following exhibits:
- Butterflies!, First Level
- Outside In: Children’s Discovery Center, Third Level
Access to Science Initiative: Opening the Doors to Autism
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University provides families of children with autism the opportunity to experience the museum in a secure and comfortable environment. The museum provides specific tools and tactics, such as museum stories, to help plan your visit.
As you plan your visit to the museum, some of the best times to visit are the afternoons after 1:00 p.m. as the museum is quieter for you and your family. The Academy also offers Access to Science events when the museum is open only for families with children on the spectrum. These are scheduled at different times each year.
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Museum Stories for Exhibits
Museum Stories describe the Academy’s exhibits from a child’s perspective. They are built to help you and your child choose the exhibits you want to see ahead of your visit. The stories, specifically designed for children with developmental disabilities, include visual elements and easy–to-follow narratives. Some of the stories come in two versions, or levels. Level 1 stories are designed for younger children or children considered to be low-functioning, while the Level 2 stories are best for older or high-functioning children. The Museum Stories are appropriate for any child who is interested in knowing about the exhibits.
Stories and maps are available at the admissions desk as well as in the downloadable PDF format below.
This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museums and Library Services.