The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) has named The Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) a Certified Autism Center™ (CAC). The CAC designation is granted to organizations that have completed training and certification to better serve autistic and sensory-sensitive visitors. The training program covers various topics, including sensory awareness, environment, communication, motor, and social skills, program development, and emotional awareness. TMA is the first museum in the Toledo area to earn the designation. IBCCES also conducted an onsite review to provide additional ways the Museum can accommodate visitors and create detailed sensory guides for each exhibition as part of the certification process.
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. In response to this need, IBCCES created training and certification programs for museums, hotels, zoos, aquariums and other attractions to ensure all families and individuals can have fun and create memories. IBCCES is the only credentialing board offering these types of programs, which include training from subject matter experts and autistic self-advocates, long-term support, continuous learning, onsite reviews and more.
“Earning this certification from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards helps provide our team the tools to cultivate a greater sense of belonging and moves us toward our commitment to making the Toledo Museum of Art a space for everyone,” said Adam Levine, TMA’s Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey director.
TMA offers designated low-sensory areas at major events such as the annual Block Party and Great Art Escape to provide respite from the crowds and noise. Sensory kits for visitors include earplugs, whiteboards for communication and various fidgets. Noise-canceling headphones are available during some special events, and TMA is working to have these headphones available at all times at the visitor experience desks. Weighted lap pads are available in the Museum’s Family Center.
“The Toledo Museum of Art values diversity, community, innovation and trust. Those values are central to all we do. By having our staff trained through IBCCES, our team is now better equipped to assist our guests and visitors who are autistic or have sensory sensitivities,” said Jennifer McCary, TMA’s chief people and culture officer. “This certification was an important effort staff embraced so that we can help each person have an enjoyable experience while visiting TMA.”
The Museum’s CAC designation is part of a larger effort by Destination Toledo to attract more travelers to the city by achieving the Certified Autism Destination™ (CAD) designation awarded by IBCCES to communities with many trained and certified lodging, recreation and entertainment options. Other Toledo-based organizations that have completed the CAC program include the Valentine Theatre, Sylvania Chamber, Avenues for Autism and Wingate by Wyndham Sylvania/Toledo. Additional organizations in the area are in the process of completing the program.
“We’re excited to work with the Toledo Museum of Art team, who joins Destination Toledo’s movement to help serve the millions of autistic and sensory-sensitive travelers and their families who are looking for more welcoming and accessible spaces,” said Myron Pincomb, board chairman of IBCCES. “Beyond the foundational training, IBCCES provides comprehensive, ongoing support and resources that equip our partners to excel as industry leaders.”
This summer, the Toledo Museum of Art will introduce the Sensory-Friendly Art Adventure Camp (recommended for ages 6-7) to provide art experiences for children on the autism spectrum or with sensory sensitivities. In this class, students will create flexible, choice-based projects led by an instructor experienced in inclusive education. Students will be welcome to take classroom breaks as needed. Fidgets, headphones and some alternative seating will be available. The class will also have a private escort to view the galleries before the Museum is open to the public.
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 recognized around the world as the leading benchmark for training and certification in the areas of autism and other cognitive disorders.
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 created programs specifically for hospitality and recreational organizations such as hotels, theme parks and other attractions so staff would be more knowledgeable of accommodations offered to this growing but underserved part of the community.
IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, a free online resource for families that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) requirements.
About Toledo Museum of Art
The Toledo Museum of Art is a nonprofit arts institution funded through individual donations, foundation grants, corporate sponsorships and investments.
Admission to the Museum is always free, but visitors are required to register at the Information Desks upon arrival. The Museum is open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The Museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and on certain holidays.
The Museum is located at 2445 Monroe St. at Scottwood Avenue, just west of the downtown business district and one block off I-75, with exit designations posted. For general information, visitors can call 419-255-8000 or 800-644-6862 or visit toledomuseum.org.
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