The Living Desert Partners with KultureCity to Launch a Sensory Inclusive™ Program.Kathy Lambert, Senior Manager Guest Relations April 12, 2021
Kathy Lambert is the Senior Manager of Guest Services at The Living Desert. Her team is responsible for Admissions, Membership, Attractions and all Guest Services, including the launch of many accessibility initiatives such as the partnership with KultureCity. Their goal is to provide a Wonderfully Wild experience for all guests during their visit to the Zoo and Gardens.
The Living Desert strives to provide a safe, welcoming environment where guests of all ages and abilities can enjoy nature. This is a pledge made by all of us at The Living Desert. To that end, we are proud to share that we are now a certified Sensory Inclusive™ facility through a partnership with the non-profit, KultureCity. This new initiative promotes an accommodating and positive experience for all guests with sensory needs and/or sensory processing issues.
Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by people with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions. A sensory need/sensory processing issue is one where the affected guest finds noises, smells, lights and even crowds not only overwhelming from the sensory perspective, but also sometimes physically painful. Because of this, these guests often find themselves isolated from the community. One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to overstimulation and noise, which can be part of the environment here at the Zoo.
The KultureCity certification process included training for The Living Desert’s staff on how to recognize guests with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation. “Headphone Zone” signs have been placed in select areas to prepare our guests for noisy areas and “Quiet Zone” signs are posted to identify quiet and calm areas. A Sensory Map is also available at the Guest Services Office that identifies these areas. Additionally, sensory bags that are available for check out for no fee. Each bag contains noise canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads.
The end result of these initiatives is it helps all guests feel welcome and included. It also helps us reach a portion of our community that has long been isolated. The Living Desert, in partnership with KultureCity, looks forward to welcoming and assisting our sensory needs guests to the zoo.
Did You Know...
- 1 in 5 people have a disability in the United States. 16% of those people have visible disabilities and the remaining 84% have invisible disabilities like PTSD, autism, dementia, strokes, etc. The common denominator for invisible disabilities are sensory issues.
- KultureCity is a worldwide, leading non-profit recognized for using their resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs. Since the program’s inception, KultureCity has created over 550 sensory-inclusive venues.
- COMING SOON The free KultureCity App will be available to help identify certified venues, as well as learn what sensory features are available and where they can be accessed. App users can also view the Social Story, which will provide a preview of what to expect while enjoying the zoo.