I’m not sure how many of you that read the Sharevision Blog follow us on social media, but a few weeks ago – around the time when the Sedin twins played their last game in Vancouver (a memorable time for us hockey fans!) – I shared a news story on Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC, where Managing Director of the group that owns the arena, Paulo Aquilini, spoke in this video about the venue being the first designated ‘autism aware’ arena in Canada.
According to this press release from Rogers Arena, on offer to fans of Canucks games, concerts and other events are these 5 ideas to being Autism Aware, that they have made a reality as of this year:
- Sensory Kits at each Guest Services location to assist individuals with sensory sensitivities. Each kit contains noise-blocking earphones generously donated by Honeywell for loan, a sensory toy, ID bracelet, a Visual Storybook, arena map and game-night timeline.
- Approximately 55 Rogers Arena Event Staff have received Canucks Autism Network training on how to recognize autism and how to best interact and communicate with those on the spectrum.
- The existing Fan Text Service is now set up to dispatch trained staff to provide support where needed to fans with autism.
- A Quiet Room is available for fans with sensory sensitivities, based on availability and by request.
- Visual and Video Storybooks for fans to better prepare themselves for
what to expect while attending Canucks games.
This is such good news for families and fans who live and visit beautiful BC and seek inclusive entertainment opportunities.
Awesomely, Rogers Arena is not the only venue that is putting tools in place for its fans with sensory challenges. It is happening all over.
And where a venue doesn’t (yet) have the above named tools or designated quiet spaces for being more inclusive, there are still many venues who try to make resources available for those on on the spectrum. An example of this is Science World in Vancouver who have this guide to prepare for your visit. Its goal for the storybook is to help make a visit to the science centre more accommodating for families living with autism.
Another handy guide, titled ‘Autism Friendly Attractions For Toronto Families’ lists these attractions amongst the highlights:
- Cineplex - offering sensory friendly screenings every 4-6 weeks
- Ripley's Aquarium - has a sensory friendly evening
- Royal Ontario Museum - their free app breaks down the museum experience into manageable chunks
- Sky Zone - once a month the trampoline park dims the lights and dials down the music "for the comfort of our extra special jumpers"
- Young People’s Theatre - offers what they call "relaxed" performances specifically tailored for kids on the spectrum.
If your destination is friendly, so too should your travel to get there, and Toronto Pearson International Airport is a great example of that. In 2017, they launched innovative technology to support accessibility at their facility for those with autism and other special cognitive needs.
Pearson is the first airport to participate in a program that utilizes MagnusCards – a fun digital life skills guide that users download, and it’s free. The Toronto Pearson Card Decks feature step-by-step instructions with picture, audio and text that users can work through at their own pace. All of which make navigating easier for those with special needs.
Whether you need to fly to your destination or not, these advances in awareness, of spaces, and technology for those who are on the spectrum, their families, and caregivers alike is great news. While there is much more to do, the examples here help people with autism accomplish life skills independently and can lead to a successful and less stressful social encounter at venues all over.
I’d say that’s a SCORE!