Museum offers fun for disabled children

March 22, 2009 7:04:04 AM PDT
One of the best places for young children to get hands-on educational experiences in a fun and intimate environment is at Kohl Children's Museum of Greater Chicago.It is also designed to accommodate children with physical, visual, auditory or cognitive disabilities.

The museum is a busy place, and there is something for every child. That's because, when it was built four years ago, the builders created an environment that is exceptionally friendly to guests with varying abilities.

"Part of the design of the building was, we went with the principles of universal design," said Sheridan Turner, the museum's CEO and president.

"We try to think of everything that we could, access of the doors, making them easy to open; nice and wide ramps to the exhibits so that children with in wheelchairs or with walkers can still participate," Turner said. "We thought about a lot of multi-sensory activities for children. So, if they're either hearing-impaired or their sight is impaired, they can learn a lot of tactile interactions with different exhibits."

"Even the maze was designed with nooks and crannies so that a child who can't get in or doesn't want to go in can still participate in that exhibit,' the CEO said.

Nina Aliprandi and her 8-year old daughter Olivia visit the museum often.

"This is a place we can come. It doesn't matter how much noise she makes, you know. Olivia is learning how to walk. So, I have this walker for her, but she fatigues and gets tired. So, I also need to have her wheelchair with us. So, it's a lot of stuff to 'schlep' with you, and they just make it very easy," Aliprandi said.

"There's a lot of places where children, for example with autism, can tuck themselves away in a nook or a cranny and get some quiet time or with their parents," said Turner.

David Allen and his 8-year-old son Jacob son also visit the museum.

"Jacob loves it here," said Allen. "All the things are so great for sensory and all the other great things, and he loves playing with the different exhibits."

Universal designs allow children with disabilities to fully participate in all exhibits offered by the museum.

"This is one of the places where it's very easy for us to come as a family and spend some time," said Aliprandi.

Last year, the museum received a universal design award.

There is something for everyone at the Kohl Children's Museum, regardless of their abilities. It is located at 2100 Patriot Boulevard in Glenview.

For more information, visit www.kohlchildrensmuseum.