City Is Nation’s First To Be Autism Certified
Mesa is officially the first Autism Certified City in the country with close to 4,000 stakeholders in health care, education, hospitality and government trained to better serve people with the sensory disorder. The city was recently certified by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards and is now able to tap into a new source of visitor dollars to the region. More than 32 million individuals with autism and their families travel each year, according to IBCCES data, while close to $262 billion is spent on autism-related services in the U.S. each year. For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been spearheading autism training for licensed health care professionals and educators around the globe. In order for an entire city to become certified, it must first certify at least 60 businesses, as well as schools and other city departments. For a company or organization to become certified, 80 percent or more of its guest-facing staff must undergo position-specific training. The nearly year-long effort behind the autism certification was launched by the city’s destination marketing organization Visit Mesa, which encouraged businesses to participate in the training in order to meet the needs of travelers with autism. Visit Mesa championed the idea of servicing those living with autism as well as their families from the very beginning stages of planning a vacation, to when they arrive and throughout their stay. Almost 60 businesses and organizations in Mesa and the surrounding area completed autism certification training — including Jake’s Unlimited, AZ Goat Yoga, i.d.e.a. Museum, Arizona Museum of Natural History, Mesa Arts Center, Main Street Bar and Grill and Escape Rooms Mesa.