The certification through IBCCES will enhance the immersive art experience for autistic and sensory-sensitive guests
Meow Wolf has completed a company-wide accreditation to enhance the guest experience for autistic and sensory-sensitive visitors. The Santa Fe-based arts and entertainment company with locations in Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Denver, and soon Dallas, 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. 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 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 the 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
Learn more about the IBCCES Autism Certifications at ibcces.org.
About Meow Wolf
Recognized in Fast Company’s World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies (2022 and 2020), Meow Wolf is a Santa Fe-based arts and entertainment company that creates immersive, interactive experiences to transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms of story and exploration. The company’s first location in Santa Fe opened in 2016 and showcases the THEA Award-winning, international sensation, House Of Eternal Return, where two million visitors have now discovered a multidimensional mystery house with secret passages, portals to magical worlds, and surreal, maximalist and mesmerizing art exhibits.
In 2019, Meow Wolf expanded beyond Santa Fe and opened Kaleidoscope, the world’s first artist-driven ride at Elitch Gardens in Denver. Meow Wolf opened their second permanent installation, Omega Mart, at AREA15 in Las Vegas and their third permanent installation in Denver, Convergence Station, in 2021. Meow Wolf recently announced their next upcoming exhibitions, opening in Grapevine in the summer of 2023, and Houston in 2024. Meow Wolf is proud to be the first certified B-Corporation in the themed entertainment industry, with a team dedicated to social impact and building a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
For over 20 years, IBCCES has been the leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for healthcare, education, and corporate professionals worldwide. IBCCES is the only credentialing organization providing this type of certification, which includes evidence-based training as well as the perspectives of autistic individuals, alongside other tools and resources such as onsite reviews and customized recommendations, and renewal requirements to ensure the program is a long-term commitment that has a lasting impact.
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 the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) requirements.