Archive: Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center Certified Sensory Inclusive

Guests with sensory issues offered a more accommodating experience

December 3, 2019

ROYAL OAK, Mich., 

The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) and KultureCity have joined forces to make the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center, as well as all programs and events, more sensory inclusive. KultureCity’s certification process entailed staff and volunteers at both DZS facilities being trained on how to recognize guests with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory-overload situation.

Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD and similar conditions. One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to over-stimulation and noise, which is a significant part of the environment in a public venue like a zoo.

“With this training and certification, we are now better prepared to assist our guests with sensory sensitivities to ensure the most comfortable and accommodating experience,” said DZS Executive Director and CEO Ron Kagan.

Sensory bags equipped with noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads are available to guests who may feel overwhelmed by the environment. A dedicated sensory room is also available for those who may need a quieter and more secure environment.

Prior to attending either venue, families can download the free KultureCity app where they can view what sensory features are available at the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center and where to access them. Included on the app is a social story, which provides a preview of what to expect during a visit.

“We applaud the Detroit Zoological Society for being willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is able to enjoy the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center with their families,” said KultureCity Co-Founder Dr. Julian Maha.

KultureCity is a nonprofit organization recognized nationwide for using its resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for all people with sensory needs, not just those with autism. Since the program’s inception, KultureCity has helped facilitate more than 200 sensory-inclusive venues in three countries, including special events such as the NFL Pro-Bowl, NFL Super Bowl and MLB All-Star Weekend.