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Indy Airport Is Now a Certified Sensory Inclusive Venue

Sensory rooms, trained staff, free app all help travelers navigate sensory challenges

INDIANAPOLIS (May 16, 2023) – The Indianapolis International Airport (IND) is the Best Airport in North America because of its unrelenting focus on customer experience – and that extends to people with disabilities and sensory challenges, like autism, dementia, PTSD and other sensory conditions that affect one in six people in the United States. Recently, the Indy airport became a KultureCity certified venue because of its many features and efforts to be sensory inclusive to the traveling public.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to experience the world as fully as possible, and travel is one way that we do that,” said Mario Rodriguez, IAA executive director. “Our community partnership programs like KultureCity, Soaring for Autism and other dedicated efforts are opportunities to provide excellent customer service to everyone, including those with disabilities and sensory conditions.”

As part of the KultureCity certification, Indy airport staff are trained to recognize airport guests with sensory needs as well as how to handle a sensory overload situation. Two quiet Sensory Rooms located post-security feature calm, soothing environments with a variety of seating options, private space to relax with variable lighting, and a rotating IU Health CompleteLife art gallery. Available inside the rooms, the Indy airport also provides noise cancelling headphones and blankets, along with sensory bags, equipped with various fidget tools and an airplane-shaped stress ball, to help airport guests who may feel overwhelmed with the busy and stimulating environment of an airport terminal.

“With its new certification, the Indy airport is now better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities in having the most comfortable and accommodating experience possible when traveling through Indianapolis,” said Maria Wiley, IAA’s ADA coordinator and senior director of audit, risk management and procurement.

Wiley has been instrumental in the design of the sensory rooms, which include passenger-requested features like an adult changing table.

Additionally, the Indy airport is listed now on the free KultureCity app, which families can download to see what sensory features are available at IND and where they can access them. The app shares a preview of what to expect when families arrive at the Indy airport. This information also is available on the KultureCity website.

“Achieving this certification demonstrates the Indy airport’s commitment to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community,” said Uma Srivastava, executive director of KultureCity. “We’re honored to partner with IND to provide a truly inclusive experience for all of their airport guests.”

The Indy airport partners with the Autism Society of Indiana to host Soaring for Autism events twice a year. These events bring individuals of all ages with autism and their companions (families, caregivers and friends) together to experience travel through the airport. Now they will have the added benefit of the KultureCity certification through these new sensory inclusive features.

Also, visitors flying into the Indy airport, the only KultureCity-certified Indiana airport, can continue their inclusive experience at other certified sensory inclusive venues in Indianapolis, including Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Lucas Oil Stadium and Victory Field. In total, Indiana has 14 certified venues: 10 are located in Central Indiana, three are in the northern part of the state – the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Riverfront Fort Wayne and Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend – and one in the southern part of the state – Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden in Evansville.

The Indianapolis International Airport joins four other domestic airports with this certification, including Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, Portland International Airport, Akron-Canton Airport, and Missoula Montana Airport.

KultureCity is a leading non-profit recognized nationwide for using its resources to create over 1,500 sensory-inclusive venues in six countries and at special events such as the NFL Super Bowl and MLB World Series. KultureCity has been recognized nationally for its social good and humanitarian efforts.