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Hearing accessible summer activities in the Big Apple

Sound Advice by Ruth D. Bernstein

Although New York is alive with activities for people with hearing loss all year round, it seems to me there are always a lot more activities in the summer. Perhaps it’s because many outdoor venues have CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation). 

In what’s become a tradition, I’m delighted to share the hearing accessible activities I’m most looking forward to this summer, along with some I’ve experienced already.


This year, Mostly Mozart is presenting a Japanese version of Macbeth with English subtitles. offers information about theater access in New York City, including audio loops, Theatre Development Fund has listings for captioned theater. I’m looking forward to seeing My Fair Lady and Dear Evan Hansen captioned on screens.

Gala Pro offers captions on hand held devices. For a list of the available shows, go to and click on featured shows, which include Come From AwayCarousel and Three Tall Women, amongst others.


Free movies are listed on Check to make sure the movies will be captioned. I’m looking forward to seeing When Harry Met Sally and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Bryant Park Movie Festival. offers a list of captioned movies at AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas in the New York area. Independent movie houses are not usually listed on, so google your favorite theater. The Landmark Theatre is a new hearing accessible theater that recently opened in my neighborhood. They are  showing RBG, the biopic about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which I recommend.


My vote for favorite museum exhibition goes to

Rockwell, Roosevelt and The Four Freedoms at the New York Historical Society. The exhibit is a trip back to my growing-up years and a reminder of what this country is supposed to be about. Be sure to watch the captioned video playing in the small living room at the right of the entrance.

One of the surprising things I learned was that Rockwell’s iconic Rosie the Riveter, was based on Michelangelo’s painting of the Prophet Isaiah on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. If you look closely, you will see Rosie has her foot on Mein Kampf.

To see part of the Met’s blockbuster Heavenly Bodies exhibition, go to the Cloisters, where you can enjoy the show in an appropriate and beautiful setting and avoid the huge crowds at the Fifth Avenue building.

Both museums offer audio tours on hearing accessible devices with headphones and neck loops. If you have a cochlear implant, bring the necessary accessory. They also have attractive cafes where you can get a snack or a meal.

Boat rides

I love being on the water in the summer.  The views are always special and my ears can take a time out during the ride. Here are a few of my favorites ferry rides:

On a nice evening, take the free Staten Island Ferry at sunset. You can enjoy the view as the sun sinks over the New Jersey waterfront. On the way home in the dark, the Statue of Liberty is lit up and the twinkling lights of the New York City skyline are a really impressive sight.

No need to go to China! The Chinese Scholar’s Garden on Staten Island is a ferry boat and bus ride away. The beautiful buildings and landscaped gardens are a treat to visit, especially if you enjoy the peace and tranquility of a Chinese garden, as I do. The garden is part of Snug Harbor, which was a home built for retired sailors. The buildings have been repurposed as a museum and art gallery as well as for other practical uses. There is also a small botanical garden.

Go to Governor’s Island to hike on trails surrounded by native plants, climb on rocks or find a quiet place to picnic with a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Bridge. There are historic buildings to explore, art galleries and activities galore on weekends. Food is available. You can rent bikes to ride on the path that runs around the periphery of the island and go ice skating on the newly opened outdoor rink!

Last summer I went on a tour of the Brooklyn shipyards with

Working Harbor Tours. I was taken aback at the size of the container ships, fascinated by the way the ships are loaded and unloaded and intrigued by the idea a lot of the merchandise we buy in our stores is delivered by ship. The tour is narrated. Ask the guides to wear your assistive listening system mike.

How about a speed boat ride in New York Harbor? The Beast is a thrilling adventure, especially for kids and their adventurous grandmother.

On Labor Day, you will find me at the 70th Street dock on the Hudson, surrounded by an enthusiastic crowd, waiting for the beginning of the annual

New York Tugboat Race. The boats come up the river from 42nd Street, turn at the dock and jostle each other for a good spot at the starting line with lots of toots and blowing steam. The starter blows a whistle, we onlookers cheer, and the tugs are off, creating waves in their wakes, their flags whipping in the wind. A New York City fireboat sprays water to encourage the competitors. Although we can’t see the finish line on 42nd Street, the sight of the tugs steaming down the river is an exciting way to bring my summer on the water to a close.

More ideas

If  you want more ideas for all-year-round, hearing accessible activities, check out the HLAA-NYC web site. Visit, click on Resource Guide at the top-right side of the page and choose the category you want from the list.

One of the most important things to do during the hot, humid months is to make sure you take good care of your hearing aids. Read my 2017 blog post on how to do this:

We welcome your ideas and feedback about hearing accessible sites you want to share.

Have a delightful summer!

Ruth D. Bernstein Consumer Advocate

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