New Orleans aquarium becomes first in US to be recognised as 'sensory inclusive'
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New Orleans aquarium becomes first in US to be recognised as 'sensory inclusive'

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An aquarium in New Orleans, Louisiana, has become the first in the US to be certified as sensory inclusive, with specific programming and training aimed at people with sensory processing needs.

Awarded to the Audubon Nature Institute – a not for profit operating a family of ten museums and parks dedicated to nature – the certification recognises its efforts to provide an inclusive and seamless visitor experience for guests of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities.

Under the Institute’s umbrella, the certification has been awarded to the Aquarium of the Americas, as well as the Audubon zoo, and the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. The certification has been given by KultureCity – a non-profit which has certified nearly 50 attractions across the US as sensory inclusive, including six NBA arenas, two NFL stadiums and several science museums.

“We want to make Audubon accessible to everyone,” said Ron Forman, Audubon Nature Institute president and CEO.

“By partnering with KultureCity, we are able to provide an inclusive and seamless experience for guests of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.”

The programme includes the training of staff and volunteers to recognise the needs of people with sensory processing issues, with quiet spaces also set up within the attractions. “Sensory bags” are also made available, which include noise-canceling headphones, "fidget toys" and other items to create an enjoyable experience for special needs visitors. Audubon is also presenting free “Sensory Sunday” events, each with a different theme so families can attend through the year and enjoy a unique experience each time.

“KultureCity is honored to partner with Audubon Aquarium on the sensory inclusion initiative,” said Tiki Barber, a former professional football player in the NFL who now sits on the KultureCity board.

“By becoming sensory inclusive, Audubon Nature Institute is helping to create acceptance and inclusion for so many individuals that feel isolated from the community and have been afraid to venture out to aquariums and zoos.”

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An aquarium in New Orleans, Louisiana, has become the first in the US to be certified as sensory inclusive, with specific programming and training aimed at people with sensory processing needs.
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