Making Toledo a sensitive destination for neurodivergent visitors
Toledo is getting a whole lot more welcoming for people living with autism.
Several area businesses and organizations are being recognized as Certified Autism Centers, a designation bestowed by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards to entities that have completed autism-specific training.
“I am a certified autism travel professional,” said Jayme Mazur, relationship manager for Destination Toledo, the first marketing firm in the Toledo region to be granted CAC status. “We have gone through training to help us to give service and support to neurodivergent people.”
Mazur said the certification process provided by the IBCCES is approximately four hours and covers ways to make specific businesses sensory-friendly to people with autism. Each business that has more than 80 percent of its employees take the sensory-friendly educational course earns the title of Certified Autism Center.
Several area businesses have earned or are in the process of earning CAC status, including the Wingate Hotel, Toledo Museum of Art, the Valentine Theater (which was the first Toledo business to earn the certification), Huntington Arena, Glass City Center, Sylvania Chamber of Commerce and the National Museum of the Great Lakes.
“Huge shout out to the Valentine Theatre,” said Mazur. “They were the first Toledo business to become a CAC. They saw the need and they pursued it on their own.”
Mazur said that Toledo is currently on track to becoming a Certified Autism Destination, which is aimed to attract new visitors to the area and expand accessibility offerings.
“The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards autism certification is an important step in Toledo’s pursuit to becoming an inclusive and welcoming destination for all,” said Lance Woodworth, president and CEO of Destination Toledo. “Visitors should feel confident planning a trip to a certified destination knowing their specific needs will be addressed and the barriers to traveling will be eased.”
As more Toledo businesses become CACs, the city is on track to become the second Certified Autism Destination in the nation, according to Mazur. The first was the California city of Visalia, which received its CAD status last month.
“We are well on our way to becoming the second CAD in the country,” said Mazur. “Between 20 and 28 businesses must become CACs in order to become internationally recognized as a CAD.”
For more information on business sensory training, visit ibcces.org.