Monday, December 6, 2021

More than 35,000 families enroll in IBCCES Accessibility Card program for attractions

A new option is available for attractions looking to streamline their accommodations processes and make it more efficient for guests who need those accommodations. The Accessibility Card (IAC), created by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), was designed to help amusement parks and attractions better serve their guests who may need additional supports while discouraging abuse, alleviating staffing demands, and helping ease the onsite experience for visitors. IBCCES is also launching an accompanying app on Google and Apple app stores on February 1, 2022.

“We worked closely with industry leaders and disability experts to design a tool that will enhance the overall guest experience for people with disabilities and also make the check in process more efficient at the attraction. The feedback from both the attractions and the guests has been really positive,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman.

According to industry sources, 375 million people visit attractions and amusement parks in the US and Canada alone, and the CDC estimates that 26% of adults have a disability. This means more than 97 million visitors with disabilities and their families are looking to visit attractions and theme parks every year. Visitors with disabilities, sensory sensitivities, and other needs are one of the fastest growing segments in the market. Many individuals and families with these needs are looking to travel and visit new attractions but want to ensure the process for requesting accommodations and the onsite experience are as smooth as possible.

“It’s allowed my son who has some other issues related to autism to enjoy the parks in a manner in which he would otherwise be unable to,” said Tim, a parent and IAC user.

The IAC is a free online portal where individuals who need support or assistance while visiting attractions can register, resulting in a digital card they can present at participating attractions to communicate their needs to staff. This helps protect visitor privacy and help avoid uncomfortable conversations, as well as expedite the process for staff onsite. Staff can then help those visitors with whatever supports or options are available at that specific location. IBCCES reviews submitted cardholder information to ensure completion and cards must be renewed annually with updated information (if needs change). The IAC does not guarantee specific accommodations since those may vary by location, but it does ease the preparation for trips and the onsite communication of those needs, as well as discourages abuse and delays onsite.

“As the first theme park in the world to become a Certified Autism Center, it was important to us to continue to evolve our offerings and support the needs of our guests. The IBCCES Accessibility card has allowed us to better manage the registration and identification of our guests with special needs, making the process more streamlined and efficient,” says Cathy Valeriano, park president at Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.

The IAC is already in use in 27 parks including all US Six Flags locations, as well as Sesame Place in Pennsylvania, and will be available at other parks soon. Currently, more than 35,000 individuals and families have started or completed the registration process for the IAC, with more signing up every day. The IAC is currently implemented at locations that are also Certified Autism Centers™ through IBCCES, which means they have had additional training and support on how to welcome visitors with autism and sensory needs, but this is not a requirement to implement the IAC at an attraction.

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