The Houston Museum of Natural Science was recently designated a Certified Autism Center™, which is awarded by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to organizations committed to serving individuals with autism and other sensory needs through a formal certification process. The certification requires at least 80% of guest-facing staff complete evidence-based training, including more in-depth training and certification for managers and education staff, as well as an on-site review which will allow the Museum to provide sensory guides for all exhibits as well as enhance other aspects of the museum experience for guests with sensory sensitivities.
“The Houston Museum of Natural Science is thrilled to receive the status of Certified Autism Center™ through IBCCES. Access to science and the arts is so important for everyone, and we are proud to have gone through staff training and evaluations in order to better serve people with autism and sensory sensitivities. We are excited to continue moving forward in an inclusive direction and hope to offer more resources, staff training, and programming that will provide a welcoming environment for all at HMNS,” said Matti Hammett, Accessibility Programs Manager.
For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in cognitive disorder and autism certification for healthcare, education and corporate professionals around the globe. IBCCES recognized that many families with children who have special needs have limited travel and recreation options. In response to this need, IBCCES created training and certification programs specifically for the hospitality and travel industry. While many destinations tout “autism-friendly” options, this phrase means something different to everyone and does not necessarily indicate a true understanding or commitment to serving these guests.
“Part of the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s mission is to enhance in individuals the knowledge of and delight in natural science and related subjects, and what better way to accomplish that than to foster a welcoming and accessible environment for all audiences to enjoy our exhibitions. I am proud to be a part of an organization that is dedicated to making access and inclusion a priority and know that we’re only moving forward from here,” said Joel Bartsch, Houston Museum of Natural Science President.
More families and individuals are seeking out destinations and organizations that have completed a certification program through an accredited source. 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 on-site reviews and customized recommendations to ensure the program is a long-term commitment and has a lasting impact.
“The team at the Houston Museum of Natural Science is very dedicated to this process and we’re proud to work with an organization that is committed to long-term changes and provides such a valuable resource to the Houston community and its visitors,” 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.