Paul and Matthew Castle with guide dog Maple at the Amazon Spheres Jordan Nicholson

Exploring Seattle with a Vision Impairment

Visitors who are blind or who have limited vision can enjoy a rich, vibrant experience in Seattle thanks to the city’s accessible attractions and welcoming community. Take it from Paul Castle, a local artist who is legally blind and shares snippets of life in Seattle with his sighted husband, violinist Matthew Castle, on social media (@matthewandpaul).

A photo of two people walking next to the Seattle Spheres. The person on the left has a short sleeve green polo and khaki pants on. The person on the right has a green long sleeve button up with a white t-shirt and khaki pants on. The person on the right holds the harness for a yellow colored guide dog.

Paul and Matthew Castle with guide dog Maple at the Amazon Spheres Jordan Nicholson

“It’s an extremely accessible city in that it’s so walkable,” Castle says, adding that his guide dog, Maple, is welcomed everywhere. Sound Transit bus stops and light rail stations have braille signs and text-to-audio ticketing booths for those taking public transit.

Some of Castle’s favorite spots include the Seattle Spheres (2111 Seventh Ave), a lush, tranquil space that’s easy for Maple to navigate, and Olympic Sculpture Park (2901 Western Ave, where art can be enjoyed up close and by sound or touch. Blind visitors at Woodland Park Zoo (5500 Phinney Ave N) can request sighted guides in advance to get assistance with tactile experiences and to hear descriptions of the exhibits and animals.

Even scenery-focused attractions are great for blind visitors. The Seattle Great Wheel (1301 Alaskan Way) provides a fun sensation to those with limited vision, as does the rotating glass floor at the Space Needle (400 Broad St). When Castle, who has about 10 percent of his vision left, visits Chihuly Garden and Glass (305 Harrison St), he says the dark gallery rooms illuminate the works even more. “It looks lit from within and is really quite dazzling.”

Live music experiences at many venues cater to low-vision and blind patrons as well. The 5th Avenue Theatre (1308 Fifth Ave) offers audio-described performances, while Climate Pledge Arena (305 Harrison St) has a separate accessibility entrance and delivers an enveloping “sound bath” experience, Castle says. Overall, the Castles say locals are just incredibly kind. “They make way for a blind person—we’ve never once had an issue.”

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