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People with color blindness can experience the Springfield Art Museum in a new way thanks to the recent addition of EnChroma glasses patrons can borrow, making the museum another memorable entertainment and recreation option for people with special needs in the city.

Using the special glasses, those with the most common form of color blindness, anomalous trichromacy, can see the museum’s collection of paintings, prints, pottery, sculptures, and other art as their creators intended. With EnChroma glasses, colors are more vibrant and contrast sharper, making the art museum experience more spectacular for those who typically can see only 10 percent of the more than 1 million hues visible to others. 

The Springfield Art Museum is the third museum in Missouri to offer EnChroma glasses for patrons and is among many other businesses in the Ozarks offering unique experiences for people with disabilities. 

Learning about the area’s history is a breeze with Sensory Friendly Mornings available from 10 a.m.- noon the second Saturday of each month at the History Museum on the Square. The program is for those who need dimmer lights and quieter sounds. Sensory maps and signage point out locations that are more stimulating so they can be avoided if necessary. 

A similar program is offered by Alamo Drafthouse for families with children and guests with special needs. During Alamo for All, lights are up and sound is down, talking and noise are allowed and guests can move around. Alamo for All is offered during shows starting before 2 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday and during select shows on Saturday and Sunday morning.

Springfield Incredible Pizza’s Incredible Buddies is a sensory-friendly program from 8:30-10 a.m. on the first Saturday of the month. During those hours, noise and flashing lights are reduced in the game room that’s packed full of arcade games, go-karts and other fun activities. During those hours, unlimited gameplay is available at a reduced price. After 10 a.m., “buddies” are encouraged to enjoy G-rated movies in the Starlight Theater until the buffet is available at 11 a.m., also for a reduced price.

While those programs are for those who may need to reduce sensory input, the Sensory Garden under development at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park offers opportunities to stimulate all five senses. It features mixed containers and raised beds with strawberries to eat, lamb’s ear to touch, love in the mist seed pods that make noise, fragrant alyssum, and other plants that can be enjoyed by a variety of senses, making it a favorite for people with vision limitations. 

The Sensory Garden is one of several recreation opportunities for people with disabilities offered by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. Other park programs for people with disabilities include Aquabilities, bowling, Discovering the Ozarks Trips, crafts and many others. Among them is the Betty and Bobby Allison Miracle League Ball Field. Thanks to the field’s cushioned synthetic surface, players using assistive devices can participate in America’s favorite pastime with a reduced risk of injury. The Park Board also loans accessible bikes - two tandem bikes and an adult-sized tricycle - at Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park. The Duet has an electric pedal assist and, with a wheelchair in front, is designed to be ridden by two people. The Buddy Bike is similar but has two handlebars, seats, and sets of pedals. The tricycle is for larger kids or adults who can pedal and steer.

Another opportunity people with limited mobility can experience in the Springfield area is spelunking. At Fantastic Caverns, the Jeep-drawn trams that take guests through the cave filled with beautiful formations can accommodate most wheelchairs. At Smallin Civil War Cave, a paved path provides a navigable trail to and through the cave. The path is hilly outside the cave but once inside, it’s level throughout the tour that highlights local history, geology, wildlife and formations. Patrons should be prepared for an uphill return to the visitor center and gift shop before departure. 

After exploring the underground, visitors with hearing disabilities can enjoy live performances thanks to assistive listening devices and other programs available at performance venues and theatres such as Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts and the Landers Theatre. 

Before the show, folks also can get pampered in style at Extra Care Hair Co., an accessible and sensory-friendly salon.

For those who will be in the area a while, classes in creative arts; acting, movement and theatre; and music enrichment are offered by Art Inspired Academy. Dance classes are available from Superstars of POINT Performing Arts and martial arts programs for people with special needs (especially those on the autism spectrum) are offered at Unified Martial Arts.

While every business in the Ozarks is practicing safety protocols due to the pandemic, those with immune disorders can enjoy the Discovery Center every Sunday through Sept. 26 thanks to heightened health and hygiene protocols. Science For All Sundays includes requiring masking for all guests allowing all to enjoy the Discovery Center with reduced risk of contracting the virus causing the pandemic. Check the website for the program’s status after Sept. 26.

Learn more about Springfield at www.SpringfieldMO.org or call the Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-678-8767.

How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills


So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

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