The Utica Zoo Sensory Inclusive Program provides considerations for those visitors living with a sensory disorder, such as Autism, ADHD, Down’s Syndrome, PTSD, and others. We have teamed up with KultureCity, a non-profit organization who helps public venues become sensory inclusive so that those visitors with a sensory disorder can enjoy all that the venue has to offer. Over 650 million people live with a disability or disorder, and our aim is to provide an enjoyable and comfortable experience for every person who walks through our gates.
What does the Sensory Inclusive Program include?
The Utica Zoo will offer Sensory Bags, specifically designed packages with noise-canceling headphones, a non-verbal communication cue card, fidget toy, and lanyard to indicate participation in the Sensory Inclusive program to make their visit more comfortable and enjoyable. In addition, the Utica Zoo has designated specific ‘headphone’ areas which may be uncomfortable for visitors with a sensory disorder, as well as ‘quiet’ areas to help visitors calm any instances of discomfort.
The Utica Zoo staff has also undergone training to help understand the way sensory disorders affect people, how to effectively communicate and assist, and what they can do to help in the event help is needed.
How can I take advantage of the Sensory Inclusive Program?
Visitors simply need to ask for a Sensory Bag at the entrance gate. Visitors may rent the bags free of charge and will also be permitted to leave Zoo grounds and re-enter in order to ensure comfort and the most enjoyable experience possible. We simply ask that all items from the Sensory Bag are returned at the end of your visit.
What is the difference between sensory friendly and Sensory Inclusive? Sensory friendly limits accessibility to a time or location. Often times, sensory friendly considerations are made for a specific event at a specific time. Sensory Inclusive does not limit accessibility to a specific time or location, but rather creates an environment of acceptance and inclusion. With staff training and simple yet impactful modifications, the venue will become Sensory Inclusive at all times.