We are committed to an Aquarium that is open, accessible, and inclusive to everyone, including those with visual, hearing, physical, or sensory-processing needs. We strive to provide an engaging and interactive experience for everyone, regardless of their ability.
Visitors using wheelchairs and visitors with visual impairments are welcome at the Aquarium free of charge.
The Aquarium has partnered with KultureCity to help people with special sensory-processing needs enjoy their visit. Special kits are available at the Information Desk and our frontline staff has received training designed to raise their awareness of sensory processing needs. Special early-access mornings for people with sensory processing needs and their families have also been scheduled periodically throughout the year.
Visitors with hearing impairments can benefit from description panels throughout the New England Aquarium. These panels include exhibit descriptions, species identification, discussions of conservation issues, and much more. Many of the descriptive panels include photographs or diagrams as well as text.
Many Aquarium exhibits incorporate elements that are helpful to visitors with visual impairments, such as oversized typefaces, bold illustrations, and colorful graphics. Many of the descriptive panels include photographs or diagrams as well as text.
The Aquarium welcomes American with Disabilities Act (ADA) defined service dogs that are working animals trained to perform tasks for the benefit of individuals with physical or mental disabilities–such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, alerting and protecting people prone to seizures, or other tasks directly related to a disability. These dogs must be always under control due to the nature of the facility and the animals under our care. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the American with Disabilities Act. Only ADA-defined service dogs are permitted to enter the Aquarium.
Sensory Inclusive Morning Access
On February 2, 2020, the Aquarium will open at 8 a.m. exclusively for people with special sensory processing needs and their families. Other events are set for April 12, June 7, and November 8. These events allow for early access to the Aquarium and a quieter experience with all your favorite marine animals. Soft lighting, limited use of microphones, and other modifications will ensure a comfortable environment for all participants. The building opens to the public at 9 a.m., but building modifications will remain in place until 10 a.m.
Aquarium admission tickets are required and will be available to purchase online in advance. Attendance is limited to 300 people. Ticketing to future events will be posted here when they are available for purchase online.
Every Day at the Aquarium
The New England Aquarium has partnered with KultureCity to help people with special sensory processing needs enjoy their visit. Kits, which include fidget tools, noise-canceling headphones, and other resources, may be checked out at the Information Desk by leaving a driver’s license or other form of identification. Guests may also use the first aid station for a few minutes of privacy, if needed. The Aquarium’s frontline staff has received training designed to raise their awareness of sensory processing needs to make the Aquarium a more welcoming place for all to visit. Visitors can also download the KultureCity All-Inclusive App to get a social story to further help with your visit.
The Aquarium was officially recognized in September 2019 by the Autism Alliance as an Autism Welcoming Business, recognizing the efforts of our staff to ensure all guests feel welcome. The Aquarium will be added to the Autism Alliance’s online resource directory that recognizes institutions found helpful by families the alliance supports.
- Visitor drop-off and pickup is allowed at the Aquarium’s main entrance.
- There is one automated doorway (enter from the front plaza).
- The Aquarium is 237 yards away from the MBTA Aquarium Station (on the Blue Line)
- An elevator provides wheelchair access to the Aquarium station and platforms.
- For more information about public transportation access, call the MBTA’s Customer Support Line at 617-222-3200/ 617-222-5146 (TYY) or visit the MBTA’s accessible services page
Interpreters for Hearing Impaired
An American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter is available from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the *first Sunday of every month. ASL interpreters can be arranged to enhance the Aquarium experience for visitors who are hearing impaired. Assistive listening devices are also available at the Information Desk and Simons Theatre Box Office.
Groups of 15 or more can arrange a special guided tour by calling 617-973-5206.
For reservations, please call 617-973-5206 at least two weeks in advance. Tours are based on availability.
Text Relay Services
You can dial 711 on your telephone and be connected with a TRS operator. Once connected with an operator, provide the operator with the Aquarium phone number: 617-973-5206. This free service will connect you to the Aquarium where we will be able to answer any of your questions.
- At the Edge of the Sea exhibit on Level 3, visitors are encouraged to gently touch and examine sea stars, periwinkles, horseshoe crabs, and other animals in this exhibit.
- The Temperate Waters Gallery on Level 2 has a textured handrail to help visitors understand evolution, survival in harsh habitats, and the function of fish shape.
- At The Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank on Level 1, visitors can reach out and gently stroke cownose rays, bamboo sharks, and other species of animals as they swim gracefully through the water.
- At the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center, visitors can explore various animal artifacts such as seal flipper bones and skulls as well as various interactives.
The following options are available for selected films
- Assistive listening devices
- Closed captioning devices: Limited numbers of devices and/or reflectors for captioning are available at the theater’s box office 15 minutes before showtime. Please ask the theater director or manager on duty. A form of ID must be provided to borrow equipment. For quicker service, make a request at the Aquarium box office when purchasing or picking up tickets or call 617-975-5206.
- Wheelchair-accessible seating is located at the top of the theater. There is space for up to six wheelchairs. Elevator access will bring you to the top of the theater.
Aurora, Asteria, and Cetacea boats
- One wheelchair-accessible restroom at rear of main deck
- Wheelchair access to main deck only; including exterior bow and stern (decks 2 and 3 accessible by stairway)
- Galley located on main deck and/or rear
Available in the Aquarium lobby, the guide includes a map of the Aquarium.
There are two family/companion restrooms located on the second floor between the elevator and the Harbor View Café. There is also an adult changing table available on Level 1 of the Aquarium. To access to the adult changing table, please inquire at the Information Desk in the main lobby.
The Aquarium supports parents’ right to feed wherever they feel comfortable. To access a private space, please inquire at the Information Desk in the main lobby.
The Aquarium has three wheelchairs that guests may borrow for free. They are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To sign out a wheelchair, please speak to our staff at the Information Desk in the main lobby. A driver’s license is required in order to rent.
Medical and Emergency Assistance
Please contact a staff member at the Information Desk or the closest staff member to you in an emergency.
For allergen information or questions regarding menu items in the Harborview Café, please contact our café managers at 617-590-2540.
Automated External Defibrillators
Two automated external defibrillators (AED) are located throughout the Aquarium and one in the Simons Theatre. First-responder personnel have been trained in their use.
If you have special accessibility needs or questions, please call Central Reservations at 617-973-5206.
Cognitive Special Needs
The Aquarium has affiliated with MagnusCards, a free app to help people with cognitive special needs learn life skills. The Aquarium card decks take a step-by-step approach to help people learn about visiting the Aquarium. Visit the MagnusCards site for more details about the free app.
Wheelchair and Stroller Access
Visitors using wheelchairs are welcome at the Aquarium free of charge. Every part of the Aquarium is open to visitors with wheelchairs or strollers.
Accessibility Features Include
- A lowered wheelchair-accessible ticket window to the far left of the ticket booth
- First-floor elevators for wheelchairs and strollers in the main building located in the Tropical Gallery
- An elevator for strollers and wheelchairs in the West Wing special exhibit area to the right of the entrance
- Accessible restrooms in the lobby on Level 1 and to the left of the elevator just outside the Harbor View Café on Level 2
- Many exhibit tanks that either extend to the floor or feature eye-level viewing
- Ramps for strollers and wheelchairs in the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center
- A stroller check behind the Information Desk in the lobby
- Elevator access to the Harbor View Café on Level 2 of the Aquarium
- Benches conveniently located throughout the building
- Wheelchair and stroller access to the Gift Shop, located on Level 1
- Eight wheelchair spaces in the Simons Theatre; unfortunately, strollers are not admitted to the theater, but are stored in a secure area while you enjoy the film.