Georgia Aquarium, named the first aquarium to earn Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) designation in 2018, has extended their efforts to welcome all visitors, including those with sensory needs.
The CAC designation, granted by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), must be renewed every two years to ensure staff are current on training and best practices. In addition to training additional staff members through IBCCES, the Aquarium will host Sensory Friendly hours from 8-10 a.m. on the last Sunday of every month. During this time, the Aquarium will allow guests to navigate exhibits within an altered setting for optimal guest experience. During this special entry, all audio and visual screens will be turned off and lighting lowered. Guests can also take advantage of the Aquarium’s sensory bags and social story to assist guests during their visit at any time during the day or year.
“Georgia Aquarium is dedicated to providing our guests with an exceptional experience that allows them to connect with the wonders of the aquatic world. We are thrilled to be leading the zoo and aquarium industry through our commitment to making our facility friendly for families with children on the spectrum. We are happy to have received reaccreditation and look forward to applying this training in a way that will allow us to continue to provide the best possible experience for all of our guests with the ultimate goal of inspiring awareness and preservation of our ocean and aquatic animals worldwide,” said Anthony Rivera, Vice President of Guest Experience and Hospitality at Georgia Aquarium.
For more than 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in autism certification for healthcare, education and corporate professionals around the globe. IBCCES recognized that many families with children who have special needs have limited options. In response to this need, IBCCES created training and certification programs specifically for the hospitality and attractions industry. IBCCES is the only credentialing organization providing this type of certification, which includes evidence-based information as well as the perspectives of individuals with autism, alongside other tools and resources such as onsite reviews and customized recommendations to ensure the program is a long-term commitment and has a lasting impact.
“We are excited to continue our partnership with Georgia Aquarium to serve ALL guests, including those with autism and sensory needs who are currently underserved but are such an important part of our community,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman.
IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, a free online resource for parents that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) requirements.
Delivering The Global Standard For Training and Certification in The Field of Cognitive Disorders – IBCCES provides a series of certifications that empower professionals to be leaders in their field and improve the outcomes for the individuals they serve. These programs are the only training and certification programs endorsed by the largest grassroots autism organization in the world, The Autism Society of America, and recognized around the world as the leading benchmark for training and certification in the areas of autism and other cognitive disorders.
About Georgia Aquarium
Georgia Aquarium is a leading 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Atlanta, Georgia, that is Humane Certified by American Humane and accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Georgia Aquarium is committed to working on behalf of all marine life through education, preservation, exceptional animal care and research across the globe. Georgia Aquarium continues its mission each day to inspire, educate and entertain its millions of guests about the aquatic biodiversity throughout the world through its hundreds of exhibits and tens of thousands of animals across its seven major galleries. For more information, visit georgiaaquarium.org.
Paige Hale, Senior Manager of Communications at Georgia Aquarium
Meredith Tekin, President of IBCCES
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