770 Don Mills Rd, Toronto, ON M3C 1T3
Phone: (416) 696-1000
Many people will already think of the Ontario Science Centre as a family-friendly facility with fun for all ages, but over time the space has also evolved into a model of accessibility. Just in time for the new year, the Science Centre is in the process of reviewing their own accessibility, and welcomed AccessTO in to have a poke around.
The front entrance to the Science Centre has no steps and features an automatic door opener for the double doors, each measuring 34 inches wide. To ensure the most barrier-free experience, I would highly recommend taking a guide map once inside. The map highlights all 6 floors and indicates where the washrooms and exhibits are located.
Surprising to many, is that the main floor where you enter from the parking lot is actually Level 2. Levels 3 to 6 are located below. Level 1 is above and is only used for private events and for mobility device users to access the Shoppers Drug Mart OMNIMAX Theatre. Level 3 is an outdoor walkout terrace that provides views of the Flemingdon Park ravine; however, it is currently awaiting renovations so we won’t be touching on it since it’s likely to change. All doors between exhibits are kept open for easy access and pathways are kept clear of obstructions.
A few features worth noting before diving into all the exhibition spaces are: there are large print maps available as well as wheelchairs and strollers on-hand for all visitors to use on Level 2. Accessible, Family and Gender-Free washrooms are available throughout all levels, and all levels are accessible by elevator. For very large groups or peak times during March break, a freight elevator is often used to decrease congestion. Signage, as well as labels do not have braille and lighting was kept quite low throughout all exhibits during my visit. All washrooms contain clean, accessible stalls with automatic sinks, dryers and toilets. Toilets throughout, are bolted against the wall, however the accessible stall on the Level 4 has a toilet bolted to the ground for bariatric individuals. Service animals are welcome, and all front line staff are trained to engage with, and assist in accommodating, people with disabilities, so don’t be afraid to ask questions!
The beautiful OMNIMAX Theatre is located on Level 2 but there are stairs going down to access the front door. To avoid this, a staff member will be happy to lead you to an entrance on Level 1 where you will find six designated spots for mobility devices. For details on movie showings and times, check here: https://www.ontariosciencecentre.ca/imax/
The majority of the exhibits are on Levels 4 and 6. With Level 5 hosting several student labs and learning centres. The featured exhibits on Level 4 are Space and KidSpark with several spaces designated with different age groups in mind. There are wet and dry play areas, a seating area to relax or eat, and stroller parking! The whole floor is one level with very wide pathways. There is also a baby care room and family/accessible washrooms.
Level 6 contains the impressive Weston Family Innovation Centre, the Science Arcade and the live rainforest within the Living Earth exhibit. When approaching the Living Earth you will see a flight a stairs, but there is a ramp to the right which can be used to enter. The trails in the rainforest are few and uneven, but I would recommend entering to simply experience the waterfall! Some interesting barrier-free activities are the ‘Making Faces’ and ‘Create, Compare & Recreate Together’ which both allow for easy access if using a wheelchair. The AstraZeneca Human Edge exhibit on the 6th floor also includes the ‘Single Breath’ room which features a spot for mobility devices.
If you are attending on a school, or educational visit that will be heading to Level 5, please note that I felt the accessibility of this floor was a bit challenging. There is a separate elevator to use to gain access to the floor which is lacking clear signage, and the interactive activities were on tables with obstructive legs below.
Looking to host a private event or conference? The Science Centre offers a variety of spaces that are accessible and have access to barrier-free and/or family friendly washrooms. A representative from the Ontario Science Centre is happy to assist with anything from corporate events to weddings! If you’re interested please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (416) 696-3150.
The Science Centre is not on the subway line but you can take the 25 bus North from Pape station, or the 34 bus East from Eglinton. For those, travelling by car, there are several designated accessible parking spaces available within the on-site parking lot; however, there is a fee of $10.
Visiting the Ontario Science Centre? Let us know what you think! Or feel free to let the staff at the Science Centre know first-hand how things went. They’re always looking for new ways to increase the accessibility of their fantastic space and appreciate the feedback.