Free, Fab, Accessible NYC

AccessibleNYC1_webThe warm weather is well and truly upon us and it’s the perfect time to get outside to enjoy New York’s summer and fall events! Whether you’re seeking a break from the heat or you’re ready for fun in the sun, we’ve got some great suggestions for accessible activities all around the city!

Getting around

First things first; you need to be sure that you can get where you’re headed. New York’s accessible public transit is a work in progress, but with a range of options at hand, most parts of the city can be reached by wheelchair users with a little careful planning.

  • Subway: Manhattan currently has 47 accessible subway stations; Brooklyn 26 stations; the Bronx 11 stations; and Queens 22 stations. See a full list of New York’s subway stations that are wheelchair accessible and where the elevators are located at each station.
  • Accessible Dispatch Taxis: About 800 of New York’s taxis are currently wheelchair accessible. While you might be lucky to hail one on the street, you can ensure that you find an accessible taxi by using the Accessible Dispatch website or phone app.
  • Bus: All NYC buses are accessible for passengers who use wheelchairs, but we know that it can be daunting boarding a bus for the first time. For advice and instructions on how to safely board a bus when you use a wheelchair, visit the MTA website.

What’s On!

All Year Round

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park features a magnificent view of Manhattan as well as fully accessible sports equipment, restrooms and playground equipment! It’s bustling on weekends, so be sure to get there early if you want a picnic table! Get all the details at the Brooklyn Bridge Park website.
  • The Broadway Accessibility Initiative, offered by non-profit Inclusion for the Arts, helps bring the Broadway experience to life for guests with hearing and vision impairments via the use of hand held units that play along with the stage show. The units are free and can be arranged by calling 212-788-2830.
  • If you’re a sports lover or you’re feeling the need to get physical, take a look at the adaptive sport and recreation options run by the NYC Sports Commission. The guide lists accessible sports facilities in each of the boroughs; organizations that run adaptive sporting events (such as the Adaptive Sports Foundation and; and organizations offering special services around NYC (such as the Big Apple Greeter program, which is seeking New Yorkers with disabilities who would like to give tours to city visitors).

Special Events This Summer

  • Enjoy the Free Summer Movie Series in parks throughout the boroughs! Many outdoor movie locations are accessible by wheelchair, including Owl’s Head Park and Valentino Pier in Brooklyn; Astoria Park in Queens; Target Bronx Community Garden in the Bronx; and Pier 63 in Manhattan. Click here for a list of what’s showing and look for the wheelchair accessible symbol to see which events are best for you.
  • During the annual Summer Streets event, Manhattan streets are closed to the traffic and opened up to the people! Mosey along, bring your pet, stop and listen to musicians, and enjoy the sunshine!
  • Spend a night star-gazing at the Intrepid Museum or watch a free movie on board the Flight Deck!
  • Until the end of September, Bryant Park offers free board games to visitors everyday. Sit beneath the shady trees and enjoy a game of Mah Jong or Scrabble!
  • Looking for something a little different? Check out the New York City Unicycle Festival (yes, you read correctly), which takes place on Governor’s Island at the end of August. Watch performers take part in races, competitions as well as unicycle basketball and hockey. The ferry to Governor’s Island is accessible as are all of the outdoor spaces.

Summer is all too fleeting, so get out there and enjoy it! If you know of any fun and accessible events taking place in New York this summer and fall, spread the word and share details in the comments section below.

And for more general information about traveling with a disability in New York City, click here and here.

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