The FRIENDS™ Experience attractions in New York City and Chicago have earned the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) designation, which is granted by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to organizations who complete a training and certification process to better serve autistic visitors and other individuals with sensory needs.
“It has always been a priority for our team to create a safe and welcoming environment for all of our visitors,” said Chief Projects Officer Steve Feener. “Our partnership with IBCCES helps ensure that The FRIENDS Experience can create an entertaining and joyful experience for autistic individuals and their families and friends.”
Prior to arrival to The FRIENDS Experience, visitors can access sensory guides that outline the degree to which each room in the Experience may impact the 5 senses. The guide allows guests to understand what to expect and better prepare for their visit. During the Experience, private on-site low sensory areas are also available to allow guests with sensory sensitivities to take a break if needed.
The CACTM designation from IBCCES requires that at least 80% of visitor-facing staff complete position-specific autism training as well as complete an onsite review that focuses on ways to enhance and improve pre-visit communication and the onsite experience. The CACTM designation requires renewal every 2 years which requires organizations to stay current with training and other items.
“We’re thrilled that The FRIENDS™ Experience staff are continuing to work toward being as inclusive as possible – the unique experience visitors can have onsite will now be enhanced even further with the CAC designation and we’re here to support the team as they continue forward,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman.
For more than 20 years, IBCCES has been the leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for healthcare, education, and corporate professionals around the globe. IBCCES recognized that many autistic adults and families with autistic children have limited travel and recreation options where they feel safe and welcomed. In response to this need, IBCCES created training and certification programs specifically for attractions, hotels, zoos, aquariums, and other recreational locations. IBCCES is the only credentialing organization providing this type of certification, which includes evidence-based training from experts as well as the perspectives of autistic individuals, alongside other tools and resources such as onsite reviews and customized recommendations, and renewal requirements to ensure the program is a long-term commitment that has a lasting impact.
IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, a free online resource for families that lists certified attractions and destinations and connects them to other resources. Each organization listed on the site has met the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) requirements.