Many autistic and sensory-sensitive individuals may find it challenging to visit new places or plan family trips due to a lack of staff training and understanding, the potential for sensory overload, or the need for flexible options or accommodations. With 1 in 6 people having a sensory need or sensitivity and 1 in 36 children diagnosed with autism in the United States, the demand for more trained and certified options is at an all-time high.
Meow Wolf has completed a company-wide accreditation to enhance the guest experience for autistic and sensory-sensitive visitors. With locations in Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Denver, and soon Dallas, our arts and entertainment organization partnered with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to complete the Certified Autism Center™ certification.
The IBCCES Autism Certifications’ goals are to provide a well-rounded, multidisciplinary training program and specialized credential to supplement professionals’ existing knowledge and ensure they are up to date on best practices, research, and incorporate updated knowledge into professional practice. The process also includes a site visit by IBCCES to understand how to tailor the immersive art experience for those with sensory sensitivities.
"IBCCES is honored to partner with all Meow Wolf locations to help ensure autistic and sensory-sensitive guests and their families make treasured memories and enjoy all the amazing experiences Meow Wolf art spaces have to offer," said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman. "This is a huge need globally and we're proud to provide comprehensive support and certification to work with our industry partners leading the way for accessibility."
Meow Wolf initiated this training and certification as part of their ongoing commitment to providing accessible experiences for all guests.
“Meow Wolf believes that art and creativity should be accessible to all, and that's why we're so proud to be a Certified Autism Center™,” says Brian Loo, VP of Operations Development and Exhibition Engineering at Meow Wolf. He and Megan Sada, Assistant Manager of Operations Development at Meow Wolf, spearheaded the program. “By prioritizing inclusivity and accessibility, Meow Wolf creates a better experience for everyone, taking into account their individual needs and abilities. We want everyone who visits Meow Wolf to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered to explore our immersive installations.”
Employees at all three existing locations in Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Denver completed the certification, with the new locations to open in Dallas and Houston joining as Certified Autism Centers™ from the start of grand opening in Summer 2023 and 2024 respectively.
“True accessibility means creating a space where everyone, regardless of their abilities, can feel welcomed and valued,” says Sada. “By becoming Certified Autism Centers™, Meow Wolf is not only making a commitment to inclusivity, but also to unlocking the potential of creativity and imagination for every visitor.”
In addition to the specialized training that led to the Certified Autism Center™ designation, Meow Wolf has implemented a number of measures to ensure an inclusive and accessible experience for all visitors. These include:
Sensory Items and Bags: Provided as complementary to support visitors who may be overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of the installations. Guests have access to noise reduction headphones, sunglasses, and sensory toys.
Accessibility Consultants: Meow Wolf partners with local accessibility consultants during the design and development of new locations, ensuring that their exhibitions go above and beyond the ADA by being as accessible and inclusive as possible.
Staff training: Meow Wolf staff have received training on how to interact with autistic visitors and those with other disabilities, and are equipped with the knowledge and skills to provide a welcoming and supportive environment.
Audio Description Tour: Meow Wolf Denver designed an audio experience specifically for audience members who are blind or have low vision, allowing for a more inclusive experience of the exhibition by means of storytelling, touch exploration and play.
Visual Description: Coming later this year, every Meow Wolf location will offer a visual description of key spaces for blind and low vision guests
Meow Wolf is proud to be the only certified B-Corporation in the themed entertainment industry, with a team dedicated to social impact building a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
Learn more about the IBCCES Autism Certifications at ibcces.org.