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Visit Visalia Becomes Autism Certified Center

In September, Visit Visalia announced it is the first California DMO designated a “Certified Autism Center” by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). This new distinction is a result of the organization’s staff and governing board of directors completing specialized training in common behaviors and sensory considerations associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD.) This training expands the team’s readiness to assist families and individuals with special needs to prepare for and to enjoy inclusive and accessible travel to Visalia and the nearby Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. The parks recently released an accessibility video series demonstrating how travelers with special needs can experience the parks.

“As the first destination marketing organization in California to complete the IBCCES training and be designated a Certified Autism Center, Visit Visalia is proud to provide memorable experiences to all families visiting Visalia and our adjacent National Parks,” said Visit Visalia Executive Director Nellie Freeborn.

Visit Visalia is also initiating a movement with the help of IBCCES to become a Certified Autism Destination (CAD.) The CAD designation is awarded to destinations where key community areas, including hotels, museums, attractions, entertainment venues, and other tourism organizations are trained and certified to better serve autistic individuals and those with other sensory disorders. Visit Visalia’s team is taking the first steps to help build a more inclusive community.

In addition, Visit Visalia is the first California destination marketing organization to adopt the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, a program lauded for supporting travelers with various needs to obtain additional support they may require while traveling. With this program, Visit Visalia is working to raise awareness, with the goal of making travel easier and safer for our visitors with autism.

Developed and launched in the United Kingdom, the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is now a recognized icon that travelers with accessibility needs can utilize to discreetly be identified as having a disability. Visit Visalia offers the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyards and bracelets complimentary to those that request them when traveling to our city. When worn, the sunflower serves as a visual cue to trained visitor industry staff throughout Visalia that a traveler may need additional support during their visit.  

For more information on inclusive and accessible travel to Visalia and including the nearby Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, go to visitvisalia.com/accessible-travel