This new initiative will promote an accommodating and positive experience for all library visitors with sensory issues, according to the news release from the town of Flower Mound. To earn this certification, library staff attended training designed by leading medical professionals on how to recognize those visitors with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation. Sensory bags, equipped with noise-canceling headphones (provided by Puro Sound Labs), fidget tools, verbal cue cards (produced in conjunction with Boardmaker), and weighted lap pads will also be available to all visitors at the library who may feel overwhelmed by the environment, according to the town. The library also added signage designating quiet areas, as well as areas that are not typically quiet and may require the use of headphones or other strategies to be enjoyed by visitors with sensory issues.
Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions. One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to overstimulation and noise, which can sometimes be part of the environment in public libraries. With its new certification, the Flower Mound Public Library says it is now better prepared to assist visitors with sensory sensitivities in having the most comfortable and accommodating experience possible when visiting the library.
Prior to visiting the library, as well as other sensory-certified public venues, families can download the free KultureCity App to view what sensory features are available and where they can access them. The app provides a “Social Story” for each venue, which will provide a preview of what to expect while visiting that venue.
“Part of the Library’s mission is to contribute to the quality of life in Flower Mound by stimulating imagination, celebrating diversity, and encouraging creativity in a space that meets the needs of the community,” said Sue Ridnour, Director of Library Services. “With KultureCity’s certification, we are able to meet the needs of individuals with sensory processing issues in Flower Mound and the surrounding area.”
KultureCity is a leading non-profit recognized nationwide for using its resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs. Since the program’s inception, KultureCity has created more than 350 sensory-inclusive venues in four countries. This includes special events such as the NFL Pro-Bowl, NFL Super Bowl, and MLB All-Star Weekend, as well as libraries, museums, and other types of public facilities. KultureCity has won many awards for its efforts, including the NASCAR Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award in 2017 and the 2018 Clio Sports Silver for social good in partnership with Cleveland Cavaliers/Quicken Loans Arena. KultureCity was named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2019 by FastCompany.
“To know that families can visit the Library, a true community binding experience, with their loved ones who have a sensory challenge and who were not able to previously attend, is truly a heartwarming moment,” said Dr. Julian Maha, Co-Founder, KultureCity. “Our communities are what shapes our lives and to know that the Flower Mound Public Library is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing.”